TRADITIONAL methods of preparing and showing finished cattle and sheep will be set aside in favour of a strictly commercial pre-Christmas event organised by the Royal Smithfield Club.
The aim is to offer a no-nonsense opportunity for any commercial finished beef or lamb producer to demonstrate his or her skills in supplying the demands of the modern market. It will also offer a unique meeting place for all who are committed to the future profitability of cattle and sheep production.
"We welcome entries from all commercial producers, whether or not they are Club members, and from producer groups," says Geoffrey Burgess, RSC chief executive and secretary.
"The Club had for some time been considering how its activities could be made more attractive to commercial producers as well as its more traditional show specialists. This has led to the introduction, this year, of a live/dead event for finished cattle and sheep, with a carcass-only competition for pig producers."
Staging the Royal Smithfield Show every two years posed a real dilemma for the Club, whose founding purpose had been to stage an annual primestock event to coincide with the traditional Christmas market.
A 1997 carcass exhibition, sponsored by Marks and Spencer, at Dawkins Internationals Congerstone abattoir near Nuneaton was highly acclaimed. It led Club members and sections of the trade to press for this first gap year event to be widened to include livestock judging.
"This will be a real opportunity for leading finished cattle and lamb producers to show the world how well they are measuring up to the needs of todays demanding meat buyers," says Mr Burgess.
Choosing Lichfield Auction Centre as the venue of this years Winter Fair offers a central location convenient for traditional Royal Smithfield Show exhibitors, who come from all over the UK. It is also the focus of an important beef production area and is sited just a few miles from Dawkins Abattoir.
Cattle and sheep will be judged live, sponsored by Schering-Plough Animal Health and supported by FW, on Thurs Dec 2. There will be no show trimming, and cattle will be penned without halter training.
On the same day, there will be a suckled calf competition and sale and two FW Farmer Forum sessions open to all visitors.
There will be a limited number of trade exhibits, and the event is expected to attract leading figures in UK beef and lamb production and marketing.
The following day the livestock will be slaughtered at Dawkins Abattoir and the carcasses will be judged on Saturday. The next day, Sun Dec 5, carcasses will be displayed and the winners announced.
For environmental health reasons, the carcass show and exhibition can be opened only to an invited audience which will include all exhibitors. They will attend a lunch and the prize presentations, which, along with the carcass exhibition, will be sponsored by Marks and Spencer.
Applications for livestock and carcass entry forms are available from The Royal Smithfield Club, Brierley House, Summer Lane, Combe Down, Bath BA2 5LE. Tel: 01225 837904 Fax: 834741.