CHRISTMAS primestock shows are in full swing, offering farmers a few bumper prices and some much needed light relief.
At Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks, the championship was scooped by Angela Tarry-Smith with her 580kg Limousin cross Belgian Blue heifer. It made the days top price of 160p/kg and marked her first cattle champion. "Ive been knocking on the door – but never quite got there before," she says.
Mrs Tarry-Smith also collected reserve champion with another heifer which made 135p/kg. "Getting the animals in condition is quite time consuming – but it was all worthwhile in the end."
At Market Drayton, Shrops, there were more than 100 head in the show section, taking the days total beef cattle number to nearly 300. "A remarkable entry," says auctioneer David Brettell.
Often farmers prefer not to sell commercial cattle on the same day as the primestock show because they fear these animals will look poor in comparison with the show sorts. But people were wise to sell stock to take advantage of the pre-Christmas demand, as values could fall when supplies have been sourced, says Mr Brettell.
Market Draytons champion, a 470kg Limousin heifer from Will and Jackie Forrester from Whitchurch, made £3.70/kg.
At Uppingham, Leics, the Fatstock Show has the unusual distinction of being the countrys only one to take place in temporary penning in the market square.
The towns market closed in 1954 – but the show is now in its 94th year. Its also unusual as farmers dont sell their cattle and sheep there, instead often treating it as a "run-out" prior to entering other shows in the area.
Entries were higher than last year. "Given the present agricultural climate, I was very pleased," says show secretary Charlie Mason.
Some auctioneers are reporting lower entries than in previous years, with farmers having less time to prepare stock. As David Russell at Chelford, Cheshire, says: "Its an expensive hobby at the best of times."
• For picture round-up of one big Christmas show and sale, see page 30. *