WITH Eblex reporting beef prices strengthening week on week, it was no surprise that the commercial beef classes at the Northumberland County Show were packed out again this year, with a new class attracting even more exhibitors.
Typically the commercial beef classes are a shop window for large continental breeds such as the British Blue and Limousin but this year a commercial class dedicated to native breeds was launched at Bank Holiday Monday’s show.
Increasing awareness from large retailers has meant brands such as Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn cattle are being sold to supermarkets at a premium price, representing a niche market for many producers.
Richard Phelps, managing director for Blade Farming, which sources native breed cattle throughout the UK, said: “Over the last 10 years Blade Farming has seen the benefits of using native breeds in their production chain as not only do the breeds offer benefits in beef quality but also key benefits in the cattle production systems.
“We have used South Devons, Herefords and Angus in very large volumes over the years.”
Show day saw some excellent cattle exhibited and Haughton Laura, a fine Aberdeen Angus heifer, was Female Champion of the Any Other Pedigree Native Breed class. She is an excellent commercial animal ideal for breeding today’s native commercial type cattle and is owned by Whittaker & Co Farms, Cornhill on Tweed.
Another pedigree Aberdeen Angus was put in Reserve place, this one from Marsden Farms Ltd from the Sheffield area. In the commercial classes, a tremendous steer from Tom and Di Harrison of Mickley, Prudhoe, led the way in the native class, weighing in at 485 kilograms and taking first place.
It’s certainly clear from the excellent line-up of beasts that native breeds are making a comeback.
Mr Phelps added: “We are seeing a strong demand now for traditional breeds as customers find the benefits of a real point of difference. However, the supply chain needs to be well managed and all participants need to be profitable which is why traditional breeds are so popular.”