Chairman’s report by Anthony Neaves

Another year on, another show done and we are all another year older. The Ashford Cattle Show committee, with the help of Hobbs Parker and the Market Company, now present the only Christmas primestock show in Kent.

With the support for the event still strong from sponsors, judges and farmers either exhibiting directly or, as many do supporting the young farmers long may this tradition continue. The event was again a tremendous success with really good quality stock presented in all classes right down to the cakes and crafts. Over the two days we were again able to show what Kent can produce with what could be a tricky year ahead.

A big thank you to all sponsors big and small, to the farmers for entering so many classes, to the stewards for helping run the show, to all the committee members of the show for your help and support and to Hobbs Parker for holding the show at the market. Well done to all the winners of the show and we very much hope to see you again next year.

Cattle Report by Charlie Bull

At the start of the year when deep in the beast from the east the prospects of the show were not looking favourable, why would anyone want to be a farmer and keep animals? Then came the hottest summer on record again why would anyone want to be a farmer and rear livestock? Nature however has ability to balance things out and I think the show had one of the best line ups of cattle for some years. Yes there are always going to be a high percentage of dairy bred animals by the shear nature of the classes we offer, the tremendous support from the Young Farmers who cannot go out and buy high quality store cattle in the spring for showing, I commend you. Congratulations to you all but especially to MB Farms (The Brown family) from Stockbury, Shaun Marsh (Dover) and the Husk family (again Dover) for bringing out the number of quality cattle that they did. The time taken to prepare those numbers at home and at the show does not bear thinking about, well done.

Thanks go to the judges, the stewards, other helpers and of course Hobbs Parker for providing the facilities. Again without your support the show would not go on.

Sheep Report by Michael Bromley

The Show started with the Young Handlers classes. 35 young farmers aged 6 to 17 paraded in front of our judge Hazel Long. The junior section was won by Layla Buckley-Jones, age 10, and seniors Katherine Swain, age 15 from Valley Park School YFC and the intermediates and overall champion Taylor Amos, age 13 from Swan Farm YFC.

A large crowd of supporters were ringside all through the judging of the pairs of lambs where our Matt Prince was our judge. He had made a long journey from Derbyshire and was faced with a testing and arduous job of judging a tremendous entry of 250 show sheep. A farmer himself, and running a very successful farm shop, he is only too conscious of the importance of the live and dead assessment of sheep and he stuck to his task with clear understanding and direction.

In the Romney class, Valley Park YFC (Maidstone) took first prize and P Francesconi (Wye) second place. In the Suffolk class Jenny Heathcote (Pluckley) was first and Anthony Neaves second place. In the Down breeds Soutdowns took the prizes, Ed Harmer (Lewes) first place and Ms Jenny Heathcote second this time. The any other native class saw a pair of Kerry Hills from Nigel Vincent and family (Arpinge) take first card and second to a pair of Cambridge crosses from James and Sophie Bull.

The Young Farmers are an important part of the show providing one third of the entries. This year we had six school clubs competing. Valley Park YFC took a clean sweep with first and second in both native and continental sired Young Farmer sections together with the best coloured woolled sheep prize. High Weald Academy (Cranbrook) and Swan YFC (Ashford) took respectable third places. The North School YFC (Ashford), Mount Lodge YFC (Benenden) and Brockhill Park School YFC (Hythe) also presented strong competition.

Back to the open classes and in the Beltex class it was first for Anthony Neaves and second for Valley Park YFC; the any other continental class was won with a pair of Charollais crosses from N A Balcomb and Sons (Lydd), Colin Balcomb with son and daughter Camilla and Norman together with cousin Tom (Alan’s son) and finally in the pairs Young Farmers club’s came up trumps with Texels with first to High Weald Academy YFC and second The North School YFC.

The untrimmed classes are always popular and another red rosette went to the Southdowns of Jenny Heathcote and second and third to the Suffolk X Romneys from Peter Francesconi. Another red rosette went to Anthony Neaves and Valley Park YFC in the untrimmed continental classes with second places to the Vincents and Dr Stuart Winchester.

At the end of judging Matt Prince selected a tremendous pair of Beltex lambs as supreme champion from Valley Park School YFC, the team led by Andrew Town and reserve champions were Beltex again from Anthony Neaves.

In the pen of five commercially fed classes N A Balcomb and Son were first in the natives with Suffolk cross lambs and Peter Francesconi second with Suffolk x Romneys. Continental class winners and overall champions were High Weald Academy’s Beltex Cross lambs and N A Balcomb and Son Charollais crosses second.

On Tuesday all show lambs were sold and the regular buyers paid good premiums for the rosette winners. The supreme champions make £200 and £150 for the reserves. The champion pen of five made £100 and a number of others made around the £100 mark. A big thank you to all the stewards who helped setting the show up, weighing and penning lambs on arrival and stewarding the show evening. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Additional details provided from the auctioneers reports on the sale of stock conducted on the Tuesday of the show as part of the regular livestock market in Ashford.

Elwyn Davies on the cattle

A marvellous selection of cattle covering most breeds and sizes was placed before our judge for the show, Kevin Ludgate, a showman of repute himself. Over several testing hours and a championship line to rival any market Christmas show he found his supreme champion in a Limousin heifer with great style, presence and fleshing. Bred and exhibited by the Brown family trading as M B Farms, Stockbury and shown expertly by Kiri Bass, this 645kg heifer went on to realise 440p/kg and gross £2,835 at auction to Brian Wilson of La Vallee Farm Shop, Hockley, Essex where he his wife Marion run a well established farm butchers shop. It was to be ladies day at Ashford with the reserve supreme champion going to the British Blue x Aberdeen Angus heifer from Charlotte Husk. The heifer was also champion Young Farmers beast and reserve to the supreme champion in the heifer championship. In addition she was also judged to be the best turned out beast on the day. At auction she sold for 335p to great supporters P C Turner, wholesalers of Farnborough, Hampshire.

Native cattle were well represented with good entries of both Aberdeen Angus cross and Sussex cattle. Native champion went to the Sussex steer from Chandler & Dunn, Ash, Canterbury which sold at 230p to Park Farm Butchers, Hawkhurst. Best selling Aberdeen Angus cross went to a very smart handyweight steer from Karen Husk, Adisham, Canterbury selling at 245p to Fulk Bros Butchers, Pirbright, Surrey.

Good competition produced a cracking trade also for the cattle in the penned classes where the Championship was awarded to another Limousin heifer from MB Farms, Stockbury. The reserve champion award went to Fred Husk, Dover whose handy weight Limousin cross steer sold to Fulk Brothers for 203p.

Plenty of cattle made from 200p to 250p but generally among the show cattle there was more weight on offer than seen for many years with 28 cattle over 600kgs and a number over 700kgs! This creates its own limitations to customers and it would be fair to say that the handy weight cattle sold better than the heavyweights in line with regular commercial weeks.

John Rossiter on the sheep

Generally, we saw a small entry of sheep forward this week for show week but the lambs in the show pens were a credit to all involved with the Young Farmers Clubs putting in huge efforts again this year. Overall show champions were from the Valley Park School YFC (the team of students led by Andrew Town) which were a tremendous pair of Beltex cross lambs that weighed in at 60kg and sold to Gibsons Farm Shop, Wingham, Canterbury for £200 with the reserve champion pair presented by A Neaves weighing 45kgs and sold to B Wilson of Hockley, Essex for £150. Many thanks, as always goes to all the buyers for their continued support of the show.

Mark Cleverdon on the pigs

There was a better trade this year for the show pens penned with up to half a dozen buyers looking for numbers and bidding well for all the good pigs offered.

Judge Andrew Clark, who runs a successful high street butchers shop in Hawkhurst, selected a champion pair produced by Hadlow College from the Princess Christian farm unit at Hildenborough near Tonbridge with reserve pair exhibited by Kent Life Museum, Maidstone. The Valley Park School YFC show team were exhibitors of the best single pig in the show classes.

The champion pigs made 185p/kg grossing £161.80 and were purchased by Brian Wilson, La Vallee Farm, Hockley, Essex while both champion and reserve single pigs made 176p and 160p and were purchased by Will Bealing for his butchers shop in Rainham trading as J W Farms Butchers. Boyd Roberts , Charing exhibited the reserve best single pig. The reserve champion pair from Kent Life Museum were purchased by Shaun Fagg trading as GHE for his East Kent meat supply business. 82p to 128p covered the rest of the pigs sold.

Ben Hopes first prize winning cull sow made 55p and £127 bought by Cheale Meats, Brentwood purchasers of pigs at nearly every sale here in the market.

Mark Cleverdon on the lamb carcases

These Lloyds Bank Agriculture sponsored classes attracted a very good entry of 50 with a large number of superb shaped and fleshed carcases displayed on the rails. Guy Grimstone from Ringmer was pleased to attend Ashford to judge at the show. His face is better known to many in Sussex as an advisor to livestock farmers and meat businesses.

In the show classes he picked two superb carcases as champion and reserve being a Texel x Beltex from show chairman Anthony Neaves and Beltex from Graham King and family from Hawkhurst. Further 1st prizes went to Cobtree Young Farmers in the Romney class, Anthony Neaves with a Suffolk x Texel, Dylan Isaac with a Charollais cross and Wakeham-Dawson & Harmer, Lewes with their Southdown x Beltex.

The sale on Monday evening was well supported and a very fair trade resulted. Romney carcases made 410p to 480p/kg grossing £80 to £112. Of the remaining carcases from the native breeds show chairs Suffolk cross made 500p and £138 to Doug Marchant (who kindly cut and prepared them all for the show), the Texel and Beltex’s made 400p to 560p away from the champion, reserve and charity carcase with the Charollais crosses 430p to 540p and finally Southdowns 290p to 510p.

Nick Hedges farming in the Salehurst area of East Sussex and with his family one of our most regular livestock market supporters purchased the champion for 780p and £191 while Simon Husk and family paid 675p and £162 for the reserve.

Charity note

The president’s charity fundraising was boosted by a generous donation of a carcase of the lines from Ruth Vant and family (Vant & Claringbold). This was sold three times to Guy Grimstone, Nick Hedges and Ned Farris raising £450 in total. Thank you all involved.
Mark Cleverdon on the Christmas cakes

11 cakes (five traditional and seven novelty) were baked, exhibited and then sold in this ever popular section and in total £2,005 raised for the president’s charity. Thanks goes to the bakers and also the buyers – Messrs Neaves, Husk, Sheppard, Light, Grimston, Marsh, Cleverdon, Marchant, Rossiter, Masters, and Keeley (also Andrew Head for trying hard!). Clare Stevens best traditional sold two times twice to raise £610 and Vant and Claringbolds best novelty made £240.

Finally, Peter Kingwill

Both Hobbs Parker and The Ashford Cattle Market Company were delighted again to have supported the Show Committee in presenting this pre Christmas event here in the market.

The support for the annual Ashford Cattle Show remains outstanding. Certainly the schools, their pupils, their mentors and their staff deserve great credit for the care and devotion that they place in their livestock and in their showing ethos but there is also a strong level of backing from a good number of our regular market supporters. This coupled with sponsorship and attendance from the wider agricultural audience and associated businesses makes for a great occasion on the Monday and Tuesday. We thank you all for making the event one of the strongest market Christmas primestock shows anywhere in the country”