UK’s best livestock farmers to go head to head at English Winter Fair

UK - Just three weeks remain for livestock farmers to submit their entries to the 2018 English Winter Fair
calendar icon 10 October 2018
clock icon 4 minute read

The November event is renowned for attracting the best livestock farmers and butchers from around the UK to the Staffordshire Showground.

Around 6,000 visitors attend including leading beef, sheep and pig farmers from across England, Wales and Scotland.

This year’s show is being held on 17 and 18 November but livestock entries close at the end of October.

“Being one of three national shows like this, we are hoping for the very best of British livestock,” said Richard Williams, English Winter Fair CEO of the Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society which organises the event.

The show will include livestock classes, carcass judging, meat product competitions, farm machinery and a Christmas Fair. Carcasses on display will be sold off and some of top livestock will go on sale in a live auction.

The event is famed for its carcase hall which will again host the Royal Smithfield Club competitions

The fair’s specialist nature provides livestock farmers, butchers and industry experts a place to meet, network and learn from each other, said Mr Williams.

“In the farming community we have seen social meeting places like pubs and livestock markets disappear - so these sorts of events become more important.

“It’s a chance for farmers to talk business, compare notes and have discussions with industry experts such as AHDB on a bale of straw over a whisky - and for butchers across the country to compete and exchange ideas.”

The show is known for its livestock competitions and expects to attract around 300 cattle entries, 150 calves, 200 sheep and 100 live pigs.

Last year, a Ledbury farming family - Simon, Willliam, Joseph and Peter Blandford - completed an impressive double by retaining the lamb carcass championship. Competitors will no doubt be waiting to see if the family retain their title this year.

Butchery events will include carcass competitions for beef, pork, lamb and turkey, plus product competitions for pies, bacon, sausages and more.

A walk-in refrigerator makes the judging of the carcass competition a cut above the rest, said Mr Williams. “It means we can have a really meaningful carcass-judging competition,” he said.

Top prizes last year went to Allan Bennett Butchers, based in Codsall, Wolverhampton. Judges awarded the business the coveted title of Supreme Sausage Champion for the company’s traditional pork sausage, as well as the overall best-in-show.

The show is expected to be a big draw for young farmers since it will host the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) stock judging competition, which moved from the Great Yorkshire Show five years ago.

Around 200 NFYFC members are expected to attend, say organisers.

The show is of high importance for the next generation of farmers, said Mr Williams, not just because of its links with NFYFC, but because many of the young farmers competing do not come from farming backgrounds.

“If you look at the YFC membership coming on the day, those from non-agricultural backgrounds outweigh those from farming,” said Mr Williams. “It is bringing new people into the industry.”

Encouraging young people is a big part of the show, said Mr Williams and vitally important. “They are the future, so we are delighted to provide this vehicle for them.

There will be a sheep competition open to schools and a children’s sausage competition. “The live sheep competition, which schools compete in, had a huge entry last year and was tremendously popular,” he said.

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Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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