Chairman’s report by Ian Lockwood

The one hundred and forty fourth Ashford Cattle show was well attended with 385 lambs, 105 cattle, 34 pigs and 84 carcasses followed by 40 poultry exhibited. There was also a good show of 36 wool entries. Other dead stock included 12 bales of sweet smelling hay, 12 lots of potatoes and 80 entries of seeds and pulses. We should not to forget 14 Christmas cakes, nine decorated biscuits and a gallery of photos from the children.
In total this was 811 items for cataloguing, penning, displaying and judging.

A big well done and thank you to our judges Jason Wareham for doing the cattle classes, John Coleman for judging the live lambs, Sarah Wareham for the pens of five and the carcasses, Paul Bowen for the pig classes and David Bourne for judging the poultry. Dead stock classes were judged by James Ledger and Gordon Cull with Spencer Bromfield deciding the wool. Thank you to all who freely gave up their time to ensure the show was judged, it is a tough job but someone has to do it.

As some of you may not have been around to see the show, some notable highlights were:
Champion cattle prize was won by Anthony Neaves & Hannah Catt with a Limousin cross steer, weighing 576 kilograms selling at 360p per kg and grossing £2,027 bought by Alworths Butchers, Sturry, Canterbury
Champion pigs were a pair of Welsh gilts from Westlands School Young Farmers Club, Sittingbourne sold at 210p and £175 each to Brian Wilson, La Vallee Butchers, Hockley, Essex.
Champion lambs was won by Anthony Neaves and Hannah Catt with a pair of Beltex lambs selling to £210 each and bought by Alworths Butchers, Sturry, Canterbury
Champion lamb carcase completed a triple success for Anthony and Hannah with their Beltex, weighing 32kgs, sold to Nick Hedges from Staplecross for £13.50 per kg and grossing a show record of £432.

Our congratulations go to two ex Young Farmers who have worked hard to create a name for themselves in the industry. Anthony Neaves and Hannah Catt have managed to show some exceptional animals this year and no exhibitor has taken three championships in a long time, if ever. The show has been running 150 years and our memories are a little shaky so if anyone knows of another exhibitor please let the secretary know.

As chairman of the Ashford Cattle Show Society committee I would like thank to the auctioneers at Hobbs Parker Elwyn Davies, Peter Kingwill and Mark Cleverdon together with the staff for their time and support for the show and to run the sale of the show stock. We also thank the Ashford Cattle Market Company for the use of the site during the show days.

Our show is the largest and most prestigious event of its type in Kent and East and West Sussex with the150 plus years history being a testament to the quality of British farming.

Cattle report by chief steward Charlie Bull

The 2014 show amassed an entry of 66 led cattle and nearly 40 commercial entries despite a few absentees and these were a very good show of first rate cattle.

During the summer months when prime cattle prices were at their lowest I was really concerned that potential exhibitors might not keep suitable show cattle back to show in December. I need not have worried. The support of the young farmers was excellent putting forward no fewer than 32 exhibits from 10 school farm or individual young farmers clubs (YFC). There was also a return of exhibitors who had given the show a miss for a year or two and a few new exhibitors who I hope will return next year. A big thank you to the regular supporters as well.

I was very encouraged by the number of home bred stock on show, especially when the prize for best beast bred and fed in Kent was judged “a credit to any prime stock show”.

Highlights of the show begin with the judging of 15 young handlers in 3 groups and the overall winner was Abbi Phillips from Brockhill Park YFC. The main show classes commenced with the native breed cattle with Sean Marsh taking the first red rosette for his Hereford steer which went on to take East Kent Cup and the best beast sired by a native bull. Les Stevens’s Sussex took first and third and the pairs this year. The any other continental classes were very light this year with Martin Crowhurst’s good Charolais Heifer taking first prize.

The Limousin breed is well supported however, with many exhibitors showing excellent stock. A Neaves & H Catt Limousin steer won the first Limousin class, with High Weald Academy winning the next few. The young farmers put on a good show with a few home bred cattle from Newline Learning YFC and Cobtree YFC. The British Blue steer class was won by Sean Marsh and the heifer class by A Neaves & H Catt. The championship was won by A Neaves & H Catt’s Limousin Steer with reserve going to High Weald Academy’s Limousin steer.

I must thank our judge, Jason Wareham who did a very thorough and professional job of judging the led classes and to Les Vine for judging the commercial classes. These have grown over the years especially the “single steer and heifer classes” providing the regular supporters of the market a chance to partake in the show, I hope this section will grow to an extent where we will be able to offer a section for single native breed animals as their numbers are increasing through the weekly market. I would like to thank the stewards who gave up their time to help namely Richard Georgetti, Russ Harrington, Peter Kingwill and Karen Whitting together with Hugh Richards for his commentary throughout the judging.

Sheep Report by chief steward Michael Bromley
The sheep section started with 55 young handlers from schools and young farmers clubs aged 6-17 years parading in front of judge Sally Aspital. Both sheep and exhibitors were immaculately turned out and all received a rosette.
The coveted “best overall handlers award” was won by Ailsa Naylor aged 12 from Kent College Canterbury YFC. The young farmers lambs are a vital part of the show. In their own classes Suffolk crosses from The High Weald Academy YFC took the native breed class. Beltex crosses bred by John Cox also from The High Weald won the best continental class which also won the best YFC overall and the Hallett and Co sponsored “best young farmers clubs” sash.

120 pairs of lambs were judged by John Coleman, a meat wholesaler from Colchester in Essex (49 years experience in the trade) in nine classes. The pure bred Romney class went to Peter Francesconi, the Down breed class went to Mrs Jenny Heathcote’s Southdowns and the Suffolk class went to Hazel and Katie Long, who won three other classes including, with a pair of Cheviot Cross, the “any other native”, Charollais in “other continental” and the Texel class.

The Beltex class went to Anthony Neaves and Hannah Catt and their pair went on to win the overall supreme champion pair of the show, sponsored by Burden Bros group, which sold for £210 and were purchased by Alworth Butchers of Sturry, Canterbury. The Suffolk x Southdowns’ from Jenny Heathcote took reserve champion and sold for £138. The “untrimmed” class is increasingly popular, being split into three sections this year. Stephen Curran, Andrew Head and Lovejoy Farm Partners were all first prize winners.

The pens of five commercial lambs had 30 entrants and Caroline Worley’s pen of 43kg Beltex x Texels took top spot, purchased by Watson Neal & Sons Butchers, Folkestone.Most of the lambs in the show were sold in the Tuesday auction and buyers are attracted to the quality stock on offer and prize winners were well rewarded with premium prices. Many thanks to all the dedicated stewards for their time and effort.

Pig report by chief steward David Thompson

We had a large entry of pigs for the Show this year, compared to last, and they were of a high standard. There were 9 individual exhibitors and 6 of those were School YFC clubs. The pairs of pigs classes were won by Westlands YFC and Brockhill Park YFC. The single pig classes were won by North School YFC and Westlands School YFC. Overall Champion pair went to Westlands School YFC. Ben Hope exhibited in each class and was only just pipped to the post by the schools. Thank you to all who support this section. It is good to see such a variety to stock on show and we look forward to next year.

Deadstock, corn and seed report by chief steward Stephen Weller

This year’s show brought together exhibits from all areas of the county and these included entries from both the Weald and East Kent ploughing matches, summer crops competition entrants and other keen farmers. Some difficult decisions had to be made by our judges James Ledger (Sutton) and Gordon Cull (Canterbury) who had kindly also judged the 2014 summer crop competition.

Judging started with unwashed potatoes where N A Balcomb & Son were awarded first for their sample of Markie. Both first in the reds and reserve champions were the reds from Andrew Dunlop being a sample of Manitou. The washed white class was won by a sample of Marfona from D E Norris & Son. Champion potatoes went to A J Thompson & Sons with their winning variety Ambo from the partly coloured class.

The hay class presented the largest number of entries for several years with 11 exhibits. Best bale went to S Weller and Sons.

First prize for group one wheat with a sample of Gallant went to Nonington Farms (second in 2014 summer crops competition) and then J Batchelor and Ptnrs showed their ability to produce good quality wheat by winning both group two milling and spring wheat classes with Cordiale and Mulika respectively.

Due to popularity by local growers and grain merchants a new class; group three soft milling wheat was put into place. This was won by Geoff Homewood’s Claire and he also won first place for a splendid sample of Mascani oats. Nonington Farms had a run of wins including KWS Gator feed wheat, Cassia barley and Quartz oilseed rape while A J Thompson & Sons Lambada took first place in the bean class and with a sample of Daytona peas, showing excellent colour and skin qualities, Horne and Son had a first place. A good clean sample of Abacus won a first in the linseed class for G L Boulden & Sons.

Wool was displayed for the second year in the Amos Hall and we were very lucky to have Spencer Bromfield (KWG), an experienced wool grader, as our judge again. Mr Tony Homewood’s fleece took first prize in the Romney Teg class and Montague Hankham took first in the Romney Ewe or Wether class. Once again Sandra Brown took first prizes for her Wensleydale fleeces in the coloured wool and the unwashed white class. And finally thanks to all judges, those who stewarded, supported, sponsored and exhibited in an excellent show of quality British produce.

Carcases and poultry report by chief steward Paul Boulden

This was another exceptional entry of lambs, pigs and turkeys and all carcases were of very high standard and presented very well. The judge for the lamb and pig carcases was Sarah Wareham from Tottingworth Farms, Heathfield who had a very difficult job in all classes In the down class a Southdown x Romney from Langrish Farmers won first and the Romney class was won by Link Bros. The any other native by Stephen Curran with a Cambridge cross which was also champion native and the Texel sired classes saw firsts for The High Weald Academy YFC and again by Stephen Curran whose heavy carcase was reserve champion. The Beltex sired class produced the Supreme Champion, for Anthony Neaves and Hannah Catt – an very exceptional carcase! The best blue Texel or Charollais sired class once again won by Stephen Curran!

The pig carcases again had a very good representation with Ben Hope taking Champion carcase followed closely in reserve by Westlands School YFC.

The turkey entries were very good indeed, with a clean sweep of first prizes in every class plus champion and reserve taken by Appledore Turkeys! These were judged by Dave Bourne, the butcher from the Lower Hardres Farm Shop.

Other sections
The cake section was very well supported this year with 14 fabulously decorated exhibits on show. The judges had their work cut out with a mixture of traditional and novelty cakes on display. First prize went to Donna Ashlee and was bought by our show president Hugh Summerfield and second place went to Rhona Thompson. The cakes were sold on the Monday as is our usual way and the first prize made £90 with the second prize bought for £90 by another member of the Thompson family in support. The total sum raised from the sale amounted to £850 which will be given to the presidents charity. Thank you to all the exhibiters and purchasers.

The stock judging competition had a new start time at 2 pm so the young farmers could take part while waiting to show their lambs. We split the class into seniors and juniors. The winners were, Ellis Box from Kent College (junior) and Marie Prebble from Canterbury YFC (senior).

Thank you again to all the exhibitors, judges, stewards and committee members for making the Ashford Cattle Show the fantastic event that it

Ashford Cattle show dinner

No report on this function is complete without mentioning the Tuesday night dinner, we seated 280 this year. The guest speaker was Ed Martin from Produced in Kent who gave a heart felt talk about what we do as farmers and how we can sustain ourselves for the future. The evening had a fantastic atmosphere and was a function supported by farming and rural business as a “must attend event” in there busy calendar.

President for the year Hugh Summerfield has shown great interest in all aspects of the event during his “time in office” and along with his fellow directors of Wilkins Kennedy LLP chartered accountants and Business Advisers here in Ashford deserves a huge thank you for there continued support as one of the shows main sponsors.

In addition to the reports above Hobbs Parker’s auctioneers, in their weekly market report wrote the following comments on the trade in Tuesdays auction for the show stock.
Cattle – Peter Kingwill comments that reserve champion beast was from another high quality team, presented by The High Weald Academy. The Limousin steer, bred in the region by Ralph & Angie Dickson, made 310p to EC Wilkes & Son, High Class Butchers of Cranbrook who supported the school and the show with purchases of many show winners. Andrew Clark from Park Farm Butchers in Hawkhurst support the sale well purchasing many native breed prize winners.

The two principle abattoirs in the region supply British meat wholesale to customers, Tottingworth Farms at Heathfield and Anglo Dutch Meats, Charing both bought good numbers of stock. In general demand for the show cattle was satisfactory but not exceptional, considering the extraordinary efforts that producers put into stock for shows. A good entry of pairs and singles in the penned classes saw the champion pair, outstanding British Blue heifers from East Kent producers D W Ferguson Ltd, bred on Romney Marsh by J Prior & Son, sold at 240p and 232p. Reserve champion pair came from Gallagher Farms and were impressive heavyweight Limousin steers selling to 220p. The singles championship went to Nick Husk with a Limousin heifer at 220p with the reserve to DW Ferguson Ltd at 230p again with a British Blue heifer.

On the lambs Elwyn Davies says – The show was again very well supported by regular producers and the prize winners were well rewarded with premium prices. Reserve champions here were a pair of Suffolk x Southdowns from Mrs Jenny Heathcote which sold for £138 and were purchased by Tony Fulk, a Pirbright Butcher. The champion pen of 5 commercial lambs were Caroline Worley ‘were 43kg Beltex x Texels purchased for £101 by Watson Neal & Sons Butchers, Folkestone.

In the pig pens Mark Cleverdon reported the show day sale produced an excellent presentation of pigs in the pens and 8 Individuals purchased show stock. Champion pen were a pair of Welsh gilts from Westlands School YFC. Breeder David Finch from Essex was in the market to see them judged and when it came to the sale Paul Bowen purchased them for 210p and £177.50 per pig for Brian Wilson from Hockley. Brian is a regular buyer of stock in the market for his families own butchers shop at Lower Hockley and also for Messrs Humphries abattoir and wholesale meat business based at Fairsted near Chelmsford. Brockhill Park School YFC from Hythe sold reserve champion handyweight Pietrain crosses for 185p and £138.75 again to Paul Bowen. Two show sows from C B Hope made to 80p per kg, one purchased to live and Cheale Meats purchasing the second.

The final sale report is from the carcase and poultry section where Mark Cleverdon was again auctioneer on the Monday evening and exhibitors with entries in the excellent section were rewarded with a brisk trade.

Sale averages

Led cattle 47 sold – 32 Steers to £3.60 per kg and £2070 av £2.17 and £1280. 15 Heifers to £3.24 and £1947 av £2.23 and £1236
Commercial cattle 29 sold – 20 Steers to £2.24 per kg and £1453 per head av £2.04 and £1216. 9 Heifers to £2.40 and £1269 av £2.20 and £1134
Shown lambs 194 sold to £3.81 per kg and £210 per lamb av £1.85 and £80.68
Commercial lambs 95 sold to £2.34 per kg and £101 per lamb av £1.84 and £74.61.
Pigs 36 sold to £2.15 per kg and £182.28 per pig av £1.50 and £103.93.
Lamb carcases 57 sold to £13.50 per kg and £432 per carcase av £4.74 and £102.94.
Pig carcases 13 sold – £3.90 per kg and £246 per carcase av £3.43 and £184.76.
Turkeys 22 sold to £5.10 per kg and £81.60 av £3.62 and £35.18.