22 December 2000
‘Insulting’ 75 for Smithfield champion
By Jeremy Hunt
A WELL-known midlands sheep exhibitor has spoken of his disgust after being paid just 75 for his champion lamb carcass at the Royal Smithfield Show in November.
David Gardiner said he felt “insulted” by the payment when a few days later 1500 was paid for the champion lamb carcass at the Festival of Meat in London.
Mr Gardiner said he wants to know why the Royal Smithfield Club allowed Guildford-based wholesalers Chittys to buy the carcass for the knock-down price.
Health and Safety regulations prevented the staging of the main lamb carcass competition at the Smithfield Show at Earls Court last month.
But a freezer cabinet was provided to cater for the slaughtered lambs entered in the butchers weight live-dead section of the show.
Mr Gardiners Beltex lambs won the butchers weight championship. Two of them scored 58 points out of 60 during live judging, putting him in first place.
But it was the third lamb from the pen that scored a record-breaking number of points to top the carcasses and give Mr Gardiner the overall section title.
The slaughtered lamb achieved a 59% killing-out percentage – the highest ever recorded in Smithfields 200-year history.
The lamb, which weighed 21kg deadweight and classified E3L, also achieved maximum points of 40 for its carcass quality.
But Mr Gardiner said he was “stunned” when he received an invoice informing him that the carcass had been sold for just 75.
The champion carcass has been hugely undervalued and sheep farmers denied the opportunity of demonstrating the outstanding quality of British lamb, he said.
“Its a tragedy that the industry has not been able to capitalise on this achievement and that such a superb carcass has been lost in a mass purchase.”
Mr Gardiner said the show organisers should have insisted on a minimum price/kg for the champion, say 5/kg.
Previous lamb carcass champions exhibited by Mr Gardiner at the Smithfield Show have been sold for over 300 each.
“What makes matters worse is the champion lamb carcass at the Festival of Meat sold for 1500 a few days after Smithfield,” he added.
Geoffrey Burgess, chief executive of the Royal Smithfield Club, said he understood Mr Gardiners concern.
“The matter will be discussed at our trustees meeting in January,” he said.