Top-quality judges will be assessing the merits of hundreds of livestock entries to Borderway Agri Expo.
Now its eighth year, the event features classes for pedigree and commercial sheep and cattle and is expected to attract more than 750 entries to Harrison & Hetherington’s Borderway centre in Carlisle on October 31.
This year’s judges are Colin Phillips from Herefordshire, Anita Padfield from Norfolk and Ken James and Jim Mulholland, both from Cumbria.
Sheep breeder Mr James, from Roadhead near Brampton, will be officiating in the Mule Sheep classes. He has around 600 Swaledale Ewes and breeds mule lambs from Bluefaced Leicesters at the family farm. The mule lambs are sold at Borderway Mart. He said: “I have judged at the Great Yorkshire and local shows but this is my first time judging at Agri Expo.
“The show is on my doorstep and I’m pleased to have been invited. I’ll be looking for sheep with good leg cover that are clean white and have good skins and good conformations.”
Butcher Jim Mullholland will also be judging in the sheep classes. He runs the traditional family firm, Mullholland Butchers in Great Orton, Carlisle, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
He said: “My father started buying cattle when he first opened the shop and I have followed in his footsteps.
“I’ve been a butcher for more than 30 years and we have always purchased our own cattle and sheep live for the shop. We buy around five or six lambs a week and we are a beef buyer for Pioneer.
“At Agri Expo, I’ll be looking for well-balanced sheep, with a good loin and a full gigot. These are the two leading criteria along with meat on a lamb.”
Mr Mullholland has judged at a number of winter cattle fairs in England and Scotland, and was a cattle judge at the very first Borderway Agri Expo.
“I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to judge the sheep classes,” he added.
Colin Phillips will be in charge of assessing the commercial cattle classes and choosing the overall champion.
A commercial stocksman who has 70 pedigree Limousin and cross-bred cows, and a herd of 300 pedigree Beltex and cross-pedigree Texel sheep on his 270-acre farm near Hereford, he has judged at the Royal Show, Great Yorkshire and the English Winter Fair.
He said: “This is the most northerly that I have come to judge, and it’s an honour and a privilege to be asked. I’ll be looking for plenty of meat on the beast combined with style and showiness.
“The British beef industry is challenging at the moment, and we need events like Agri Expo to showcase our livestock. I visited two years ago and thought it was an excellent event. I’m looking forward to coming back this time to judge what I know will be a tremendous showcase of cattle.”
Mr Phillips is no stranger to exhibiting and has shown at the highest levels, with a string of successes at the Welsh Winter Fair.
He bred the pedigree Limousin heifer that was supreme champion at last year’s event and in 2012 bred and exhibited the champion beef animal. He won the overall championship at the 2005 show with a Blonde cross Blue steer, the champion pairs in 2006 and in 2001 bred the event’s reserve champion steer.
He also won the championship at the 2008 English Winter Fair with a British Blue cross Limousin heifer. Mr Phillips has recently sold one of his homebred bulls by Objat to Cogent.
Anita Padfield, who farms near Great Yarmouth, will be judging the Baby Beef classes. Ms Padfield, who has a small suckler herd of 40 pedigree Limousins and pedigree British Blue cattle, plus a small flock of Blue Texels she bought at Carlisle, is both an experienced judge and exhibitor.
She said: “I was very surprised to be asked to judge at Agri Expo. It’s a real pleasure.
“We come up to Carlisle to the suckler calf sales in the autumn and quite a lot of my own previous show winners have been purchased at Carlisle Mart. In judging the Baby Beef, I want to be wowed, and have my eye caught as soon as the animal comes into the ring – something with showring presence that carries itself well, grabs people’s attention and stands out from the crowd as being special.”
Ms Padfield’s credentials include judging at the Spectacular in Aberdeen, and the Baby Beef, Commercial Beef and young handlers’ classes at the Welsh Winter Fair. She has also had show success at this year’s Royal Norfolk, earning reserve breed champion with pedigree Limousin bull, Plumtree Fallon purchased at Carlisle as a two-year-old.
This year’s event will include more than 45 livestock classes and visitors are guaranteed to see some of the finest livestock from across the UK.
The Agri Expo organiser, Harrison & Hetherington’s operations director David Pritchard, said: “The classes have been finalised, and entries have just opened.
“We are delighted our judges have accepted their invitations. Judging is a big commitment – it takes time and effort and I would like to thank them all for their support.
“This year we are looking forward to building on the success of previous years and seeing the usual high-quality turnout of livestock.”
In addition to the sheep and cattle classes, Borderway Agri Expo encourages farming’s next generation with a number of specialist classes for young and novice handlers. There will also be a packed trade stand area exhibiting the latest industry developments. More than 12,500 visitors attended last year’s event.