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Sooty Sweeps the Board at the 2015 NBA Beef Expo

With the Theme of “Meeting the Changing Lifestyle of Today’s Consumer” the Beef Industry’s annual showcase has been another triumph.

beef expo 2015

Held at the York Auction Centre, the 2015 NBA Beef Expo had its view firmly fixed on the future. Its theme was focused on technology and its power to improve day-to-day farming, together with the changing needs of modern consumers and what they want from the marketplace.

The event started on Wednesday with over 250 attending the farm tours. The sun shone and farmers from across the length and breadth of the country really were given a detailed insight into the farming practices of three of our best farms. Thanks to the excellent weather, all enjoyed views for 60 miles around.

No Expo is complete without pride in excellence, and the nation’s champion beef was showcased by pedigree and commercial livestock breeders. In addition, there were demonstrations, commercial trade stands, and the younger generation – ably waiting to take the industry forward to the future.

Taking place in York for the first time ever, Beef Expo featured over 380 head of cattle, 19 breed societies, 170 trade stands and in the region of 7000 visitors (including a party of 50 farmers from Northern Ireland) – all keen to get together to admire the winners and talk over latest developments in genetics, breeding, nutrition and the industry’s latest technical inventions.

However without a doubt the highlight of the day and the perfect conclusion to this major event was the announcement of the overall Supreme Champion of The National Spring Spectacular Show [the NSSS]. This was Sooty, a Limousin Cross Heifer, bred by Bowen and Bowen and owned by Welsh farmers Rhidian and Cai Edwards [T C Edwards & Sons]. Reserve Supreme Champion was Midnight Black, a limousine cross steer, owned and bred by TA & LC Lyon & Sons.

On receiving his trophy, Cai said: “We are over the moon to win. When we first saw Sooty she just stood out as calf, and had great width at the top and it really caught my eye.”

The £5,000 prize-funded NSSS continues to grow from strength to strength with entry numbers in the 15 classes featuring 152 head of cattle. The judges were leading Scottish Beef Breeders from Perthshire, Wilson Peters and Craig Robertson.

Wilson, who judged the Native and Continental Classes, and Supreme Champion, commenting afterwards on the strength of the entries said: “It is a tremendous show – the overall champion was so correct with a beautiful top and bottom line, and just the sort of animal the butcher wants to buy.”

The Baby Beef Classes judged by Craig Robertson also attracted entries from across the UK with the overall Baby Beef Champion being awarded to Black Beauty, a Limousin Cross Heifer owned and bred by Tecywn Jones.

Discussing the day’s successes, NBA Beef Expo 2015 Chairman Richard Tasker and Director of York Auction Centre said: “NBA Beef Expo is without a doubt the best opportunity of the year for people in the industry at all levels to network, meet potential new customers and take home new ideas that can help to add to the bottom line.”

Throughout the day One of Britain’s most famous farmers, Adam Henson, judged the breed society stands, and was on hand, meeting visitors, discussing issues, and presenting awards.

As always the next generation were well represented, and encouraged to participate in competitions. The Young Handler Classes 12-16 years old went to Ellin Wyn Roberts, showing Eye Style and the winner of the Young Handler Classes 17-21 years old was awarded to Hannah Donaldson showing Hoity Toity.

This year’s event also saw the launch of The Future Beef Farmer Challenge, set and sponsored by EBLEX, the Charolais Cattle Society, XL Vets and Thompsons of York. The individual winner receiving the Frank Nomber Perpetual Trophy was James Bonnar, from Northampton, aged 25, who works on his family’s beef and arable farm. The group prize and the Duke of Northumberland Trophy went to Askham Agrics, 4 Girl Students from Askham Bryan College – sisters, Emily and Amanda Watson from Durham, Becky Green from Derbyshire and Nicola Terry from Ripon. Organiser of the Challenge, Steve Dunkley from EBLEX said, “This competition showed the tremendous ability of the youngest generation and their strengths in the industry.”

Also featuring for the first time was the focus on understanding what people want when they go to their local butcher or supermarket. “Meeting the Changing Lifestyle of Today’s Consumer” focused on a special ASDA presentation designed to get beef farmers in touch with customer demands. Included were a Leeds College butchery competition and a cookery demonstration from Steph Moon, the celebrity Yorkshire chef, who demonstrated that beef can be made into an amazing summer supper in 30 minutes, using simple popular cuts.

The benefits of Technology were clearly demonstrated in three seminars. This is much more useable and affordable now than it has been in the past, and the focus was to make more farmers aware of what it can do for them. Mike Powley, who chaired the three seminars said:

“They were exceptionally well attended and a high level of interest was shown, in particular in the VIA and EID seminars. The aim was to demonstrate the technical side of beef farming and how it can help farmers going forward. Farmers need to be more aware that to be more efficient they need to have more animals, and less manpower, especially as they can no longer rely on subsidies. Hopefully through these seminars we demonstrated that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

“I would like to thank all of the speakers for their time and expertise, and sharing this with farmers the length and breadth of the country.”

Farming has its light hearted moments and these were represented at Beef Expo 2015 by The Auctioneers’ Handler Challenge – the competition was designed to see if Britain’s top Auctioneers can show as well as sell! Judged by Charles Mills, Show Director of the Great Yorkshire Show, the inaugural challenge was won by Trevor Simpson, of Hexham & Northern Marts, who said afterwards “I have never done this before in my life, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and I will be happy to do it again!”

Best Breed Society Stand was awarded to the Beef Shorthorn Society, who just pipped to the post the Hereford Cattle Society which was awarded highly commended. The British Charolais Cattle Society received Commended and The Best Small Breed Society Stand was the South Devons.

The breed Society Stands were judged by Adam Henson who commented afterwards: “We judged then on a number of criteria, impact, the stock on the stand, overall presentation of the stand, messages and availability of follow up information.

“The good stands were very good, however some demonstrated room for improvement. Breed societies need to learn from one another, and step into the professional world together.”

In the indoors trade stands, Carrs Billington Agriculture was the overall winner, Dow Agrosciences Ltd were Highly Commended, and Northern Nutrition received Commended. R.A.B.I received Best Small Stand. The Best Small Stand was awarded to RABI.

There was a large number of outdoor trade stands and L M Bateman, suppliers of cattle handing equipment, picked up the Best Outdoor Trade Stand for their “Attention to detail, customer welcome and product knowledge.”

Highly Commended went to 3 in 1 Advantage Feeders, and Huntsmoor Park Farm received Commended.

Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the NBA said: “Coming to York has been a great success – the farms tours demonstrated the diversity of beef farming in this area and that this is a tremendous cattle breeding county. Today’s event, Beef Expo, is full of and practical activities designed to give beef farmers the opportunity to future-proof their businesses so I am sure that many have taken away with them some very useful information and advice.”

The presentations included Foot Trimming and Pneumonia prevention held by Phil Alcock of Bishopton Veterinary Group. Demonstrations of grassland management machinery and cattle feeding systems were held by Ripon Farm Services throughout the day.

Concluding, Richard Tasker, Event Chairman, said: “The huge crowds that have come to Yorkshire and the York Auction Centre, have had a superb day. We are all grateful to the support of the many volunteers, and event and competition sponsors. This year’s mainline sponsors included York Auction Centre, Caltech-Crystalyx, Dunbia, Eblex, Lloyds Bank and Farmers Guardian as our media partner, and we thank them all.”

“This was not just a huge event for the National Beef Association, but also for Yorkshire as a county, and for us at the York Auction Centre.”

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