Hexham & Northern Marts held their sixth annual Young Farmers’ Calf Wintering Competition over two days last week and saw a fantastic entry of 61 overwintered calves.
Conceived by the company as a showcase for the region’s cattle producers of the future, the competition has exceeded all expectations and the auctioneers were absolutely delighted with the interest shown in the venture this year.
Current members of any Young Farmers’ Club within Northumberland, County Durham, and Cumbria were able to come to Hexham Auction Mart in October last year and purchase a suckled calf, the cost of which was financed by the company, to be brought back to this event for the chance to take home some handsome silver ware.
The first aspect of the competition was the prize show which took place on Thursday evening when more than 400 people gathered to watch a superb display of over 30 cattle which would not have looked out of place in any show ring on the national circuit.
Called in at the 11th hour was local judge and well-respected cattlewoman Julie Sedgewick who was faced with the daunting task of awarding preliminary class awards before moving on to the hard-fought and coveted overall championship for the David Carr Trophy.
There was a great buzz of excitement and anticipation around the show square as the class winners were brought forward and many commented that the line-up was the best seen since the competition began.
After due deliberation and having given each and every beast her full consideration, Mrs Sedgewick moved forward to tap the black first prize Limousin cross-bred heifer exhibited by Nicola Chappelhow, of High Grounds Farm and a member of Penrith YFC, as her Overall Champion.
The calf was extremely correct and as the judges’ typically favoured black heifer, had caught the eye early in the preceedings. With great length, topline and a sharp, sparky outlook, the animal would equally suit a breeding or feeding destiny.
Then faced with four similarly well-turned-out calves, Mrs Sedgewick took little time in making her selection for her reserve champion and obvious winner of the J Gibb Trophy for rhe Best Calf of Opposite Sex to the Champion.
With another forthright slap, these accolades were awarded to the popular choice of the first prize Limousin cross-bred bullock which completed the double for the Chappelhow family as the well-grown red steer was exhibited by Angela Chappelhow, sister and sibling in competition to the championship winner.
Many had commented that both animals were a credit to the girls and their ability as stockwomen was more than evident by the manner in which the calves had obviously been tended to over the winter months but also in the expert fashion in which both had been presented and led round the show square.
In another serendipitous twist, both animals had been purchased on the same day by the sisters, both from the same producer and staunch Hexham & Northern supporter Michael Cousins, of The Laws, Whitfield who was absolutely delighted for the girls and will no doubt reap the benefits of this deserved publicity at the back end sales at this centre.
With such a high standard of presentation on display, the judge had yet another difficult task at hand which was to award the Dalkin Trophy for the Best Turned Out Calf.
With many smart calves and smart exhibitors having passed before her, it was the first prize British Blue cross-bred bullock from Richard Sanders, of Bavington Hill Head and a member of Stamfordham YFC, that triumphed.
Virtually all white in appearance with a speckling of black in places, the judge commented not only was the calf the best turned out but the best behaved on the night which suggested a great deal of work had been put in by the exhibitor.
The company would like to thank all involved with the show; sponsors, exhibitors, parents and onlookers, all of whom contribute to make this event now the biggest on the company’s calendar but especially Mrs Sedgewick for her expertise and professionalism in judging, having been nominated as a substitute judge late on the day of the show.
Mainline sponsors was Norbrook Animal Health and co-Sponsors were JS Hubbuck Ltd, Agricultural Merchants, David Carr, farmer and haulier, and Hexham & Northern Rural, land agents.
Class 1 – Newton Rigg Students (Confined); 1st Clare Dent, 2nd James Grix, 3rd Josh Rogerson.
Class 3 – Charolais cross heifer; 1st Joe Charlton, 2nd Diane Anderson.
Class 4 – British Blue cross steer; 1st Richard Sanders, 2nd Michelle Athey, 3rd Alex Cousins.
Class 5 – British Blue cross heifer; 1st Ben Moralee, 2nd Mark Statton, 3rd Clare Dent.
Class 6 – Limousin cross steer; 1st Angela Chappelhow, 2nd Thomas Athey, 3rd Harry Ward.
Class 7 – Limousin cross steer; 1st Nichola Chappelhow, 2nd Lucy Corner, 3rd William Storey.
With the grand occasion of the show over and done with, and all calves fed and bedded down, the Friday sale day quickly dawned and the celebrations of the previous night turned into tension and suspense as the entire entry of the calves were brought forward to the auction ring for the sale and the main focus of the competition, profit.
This would be the time when all the hard work of the winter would pay off, or not, and fortunes could be made or lost. With Trevor Simpson in the rostrum on fine form and an auditorium packed with purchasers and onlookers, trade quickly gathered pace as the well-fed cattle rattled through the ring.
Once again the company are extremely grateful to both regular and occasional customers that come forward to this sale and well and truly enter into the spirit of the competition by digging deep to encourage these young farmers.
These are Hexham Marts’ consignors of the future and buyer support helps to ensure top-quality cattle will continue to be bred, reared and sold through the weekly sales and special seasonal prize show sales at this centre.
Not until the last calf had been sold from the balloted sale catalogue could the auctioneers ascertain who had achieved the most profit from purchase to sale. However, they are pleased to report that all calves did indeed leave a profit and over the 60 sold, the average figure was a hefty £272.66.
With only a handful exceeding a profit figure of £500, it was Nicola Chappelhow’s champion calf from the previous night’s show which took the JS Hubbuck Ltd Antique Silver Trophy for a figure of £610 profit.
The calf attracted a great deal of attention and furious bidding with a number of regional show calf exhibitors all competing to take the heifer home.
It was father-and-son team Nicky and Ian Robinson, Bog Hall that will have the pleasure of putting her to the bull and undoubtedly her progeny will be destined for the show circuit and with any luck the Hexham sale ring in the future.
The company would like to thank all those who contributed to the event and wish all buyers good luck with their purchases. The competition will begin again in October.