Otley Show provides timely tonic for farmers

Four-year-old Henry Hall exercises his texel cross sheep at the 207th Otley Show.   Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Four-year-old Henry Hall exercises his texel cross sheep at the 207th Otley Show. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe
0
Have your say

This was the mood lifter that agriculture craved in this pocket of Yorkshire. After a tough winter of flooding and low prices over the farm gate, show season is back and it started at Otley.

Any woes were left at home for one day at least, so too the uncertainty farming - like all other industries - is facing over the EU referendum, as the 207th Otley Show brought farming families together for the first time this year on the show circuit.

Five-year-old Phoebe Preston on her way to coming second in the Shetland Gelding class.

Five-year-old Phoebe Preston on her way to coming second in the Shetland Gelding class.

Entries were healthy, with 260 cattle and just under 350 sheep lined up as exhibits in the various classes. These are numbers that roughly match the strength of last year’s show and the animal count was swelled by lots of horses for a full programme of equestrian contests, as well as poultry, pigeons and waterfowl, among others.

Rabbit classes returned to the show bill, and there was fresh entertainment in the main ring where Bob Hogg’s Sheepdog and Duck Display, along with his ‘Lamb National’ sheep race lured some of the biggest crowds.

The sheep race was a particular highlight. It comprised of five or six Herdwick sheep dressed in brightly-coloured coats and given names such as Mint Sauce, which were raced down a trace and over jumps - much to the delight of younger onlookers.

Ben Potter also drew visitors to the main ring with his impressive displays of birds of prey.

Ben Potter flies his American Bald Eagle in the main ring.

Ben Potter flies his American Bald Eagle in the main ring.

After a cool and cloudy start, the weather conditions threatened to spoil the occasion when a series of showers sent visitors dashing for cover at the start of the afternoon. The downpours did not last though, and a growing number of visitors enjoyed warm and sunny conditions as the afternoon wore on.

There is always a risk of rain at a show so early in the annual outdoor events calendar but it never stops hundreds of farmers from turning up to compete in livestock classes from early in the morning - and today’s show was no different.

The judges had some difficult decisions to make but in the end there were winners in the cattle rings and sheep pens.

The supreme interbreed dairy champion was a two-year-old Jersey heifer called Kempbrook Tequila Jillian paraded by Rachel Richardson, a farm manager for yoghurt makers Longley Farms.

Cattle in the parade ring.

Cattle in the parade ring.

The heifer resides at Dovecote Farm in Doncaster where the Richardson family milk 98 cows. They only started with the Jersey breed three years ago having previously stuck to black and whites.

Miss Richardson’s brother Matt Richardson said: “We’re really chuffed to win.” Next stop for the prize dairy animal will be the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate this July.

Reserve dairy champion was Newbirks Mrs Mill Jazz, a white Holstein heifer that also won the show’s Holstein championship and was shown by Suzy Lawson. Her father David Lawson farms at nearby Arthington.

The overall champion beef beast was a Limousin belonging to James and Sarah Cooper - named Tom’s Choice Lacoste. The couple run a herd of 50 breeding cows at Hill Top Farm in Dacre.

Cattle entries numbered 260.

Cattle entries numbered 260.

Mr Cooper said of his winner: “He was male champion at the Northern Limousin Extravaganza at Skipton last week and we will be taking him to the Lincolnshire Show, the Great Yorkshire and the national Limousin show at Carlisle at the end of July.

“It’s always very thrilling to win and to win it especially when we have had a good turn out of Limousins today. We like to compete and if we win it’s that little bit better.”

Over in the sheep pens as the sun shone in the middle of the afternoon and the supreme interbreed championship fell to Pateley Bridge’s Andrew Fisher for his homebred Teeswater tup hogg - a victory which he said left him feeling “shocked and nicely surprised”.

It was a successful day for the North Yorkshire farmer with the overall championship title adding to his earlier wins in both the Teesdale and Wensleydale breed contests.

Logistically and there was a little nervous apprehension in the run up to the show after a traffic management company had to be drafted in following the withdrawal of police road marshals, but all seemed to go well and Wharfedale Agricultural Society’s show secretary Janet Raw reported no complaints midway through the day.

“We’ve had a really good day,” Mrs Raw said. “I hope everyone has enjoyed it.”

The champion beef animal at the 207th Otley Show.

The champion beef animal at the 207th Otley Show.

Pateley Bridge farmer Andrew Fisher with his championship winning Teeswater.

Pateley Bridge farmer Andrew Fisher with his championship winning Teeswater.

Review: Cafe 71, Street Lane, Roundhay, Leeds