Preparations are under way for the annual Borderway Agri Expo, due to be held in Carlisle on October 31.
The flagship event, now in its eighth year, brings together the best of pedigree and commercial showing classes, while giving farmers the opportunity to find out more about key developments in the livestock industry.
Considered a highlight of the autumn and winter farming calendar, the expo is being organised Harrison & Hetherington, which is currently marking 40 years at its Borderway centre. This time round, a record of 880 head of livestock has been entered.
Event organiser David Pritchard, said: “Agri Expo has grown phenomenally in size and reputation in the eight years we have been running the event, just like our Borderway centre. This year, we are developing extra parking space.
“Forty years ago, Borderway would not have been able to stage a showcase of this size but in that time, the centre has evolved to meet the changing needs of this sector.
“Not only has it almost doubled in size, but all the pens have been brought under cover and we have also embraced new technology.”
Key highlights at this year’s event include a machinery show with demonstrations and Young Farmers Club competitions, including the Young Farmer Stockman of the year award.
Trade stands and educational exhibits will also be included at the event, which sponsored by Carrs Billington, Cogent, Lloyds Bank, Morrisons, Norbrook and Farmers Guardian,
As always, however, the sheep and cattle classes will be at the heart of the expo, with the total prize fund standing at £14,000.
Among the extensive schedule of pedigree and commercial classes, there will be a number of major breed society shows, including:
- The Aberdeen Angus Winter National Show, incorporating the Walkers Shortbread Aberdeen Angus Show Herd of the Year Competition 2014
- The Border British Blue Calf Show
- The Beef Shorthorn National Calf Show
- The Hereford National Calf Show and
- The Simmental Regional Calf Show
The Lincoln Red Cattle Society - representing one of the oldest of the UK’s native breeds - will also be making its first appearance at the Carlisle event.
Other highlights include a special class for Best Charolais Sired Heifer, sponsored by the British Charolais Cattle Society, for animals that have been shown in one of the preview classes on the schedule.
In the sheep section, meanwhile, the Beltex Sheep Society will present £200 if the overall Champion pair of lambs are sired by a registered Beltex Ram and £100 if this applies to the Reserve Overall Champion pair.
The British Texel Sheep Society will likewise present £250 if the Overall Champion pair of lambs are sired by a registered Texel Ram, and £125 if this is the case for the Reserve Overall Champion pair.
The winner of the Best pair of Cheviot Hill Lambs will receive an engraved tankard from the Cheviot Hill Sheep Society, while the overall Champion pair of lambs will earn the Borderway Agri-Expo Perpetual Challenge Trophy.
Young farmers have also been invited to enter heifers, steers or pairs of lambs of any breed and weight.
Jim Mulholland, from Cumbria, will be judging the main sheep classes, with Colin Phillips from Herefordshire appraising the commercial cattle. Anita Padfield from Norfolk will officiate in the baby beef classes, while Ken James, also from Cumbria, will be judging the Mule ewe lamb class.
The owner of the Overall Champion Animal will receive £500 and the Robert Scott Memorial Perpetual Challenge Trophy.
There is also a Special H&H Award for the champion exhibitor who either purchased their winning animal through the sale ring at one of the H&H auction marts, or home-bred it and subsequently sold it through an H&H centre.
The champion’s award will be presented to the best animal from the cattle classes, which include Baby Beef, Continental and Native Bred cattle.
Mr Pritchard said: “There are now 26 cattle classes and 20 sheep classes, plus championships, where we confidently expect to see some of the UK’s top quality animals on display.”
Showcasing the very best of British livestock is at the heart of Borderway Agri Expo and visitors will have the opportunity to find out more about native breeds as well as seeing show animals in the ring.
The Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association, which promotes the hardy Lake District hill breed, have been regular exhibitors at the show and, in association with Wools of Cumbria Carpets, students from Newton Rigg will be showing Herdwick cross-bred lambs from Herdwick draft ewes.
Association secretary Amanda Carson said: “Agri Expo is recognised as one of the key events in the livestock calendar; it is very well organised and attracts farming businesses from across the country.
“It also provides us as an association with an opportunity to showcase the Herdwick draft ewes and the potential to produce cross bred lambs.
“We are sponsoring a class where anyone can bring a cross-bred lamb from a Herdwick ewe.”
Among those attending the event will be Brenda Wear of Windover, Bristol, who has shown livestock in the cattle section since the first Beef Shorthorn National Calf Show was initiated.
She said: “I feel that the 600 mile round trip is time and money well spent; the friendly, electric business-like atmosphere from the time we arrive until the time we leave gives a positive attitude to both exhibitors of stock and trade stands.
“It is an extremely well organised action packed day; visitors are engaged as soon as they enter the event business is to be done we have sold stock both at the event and from home through contacts made at Borderway.”
“Harrison and Hetherington are to be congratulated on organising this event.”
In addition to the livestock, the indoor and outdoor exhibition areas will almost full to capacity, with around 200 trade stands, ranging from animal feed to renewable energy companies. Covering a broad cross section of subjects, this section of the show which has grown significantly since the first Agri Expo was staged.
Regular exhibitor Jonathan Guy, of specialist livestock mineral supplement company JG Animal Health, said: “Farmers have had a very tough few years with hard winters and the subsequent effects on livestock prices, but as a business we are seeing continued growth because we pride ourselves in offering a very personal service.
“I have been attending Borderway Agri Expo since the outset. It attracts extremely high quality livestock exhibitors. These are the people I am working with, and it gives me the opportunity to meet them on a one-to-one face basis.”
Admission to the event is free and free parking will be provided.