Judging the main cattle classes this year is Alan Veitch, from Drumlone, Co.Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
He farms 300 acres with his father in Co. Fermanagh and runs a 120-cow dairy herd, as well as breeding pedigree beef breeds; Charolais, Simmental and British Blue and some commercial animals for breeding show calves.
Alan is a prolific judge, particularly in Northern Ireland, where he has judged the Irish Winter Fair, the Irish Commercial Winter Fair and more recently the Pedigree British Blues at Tullamore Show.
He also has a record breaker title to his list of achievements, having sold the highest priced calf for £8,000 at the Stars of the Future sale earlier this year. The cross bred Limousin heifer calf, aged eight months old and weighing 350kg, made the overall record price ever achieved in Ireland.
Commenting ahead of his first judging role at Borderway Agri-Expo, Alan said, “I have attended Agri Expo for many years and it’s the Show that everyone wants to win. I never thought I would be coming across to judge it. It’s an exciting challenge and an absolute honour to be asked to judge what I know will be a tremendous showcase of cattle. The winner will be the animal that I personally would most like to take home, so I am looking for correctness, walks well and it has to have an easy temperament.”
Judging the baby beef and showmanship classes is Craig Malone from Fife who, as a new entrant into farming eight years ago, has made quite an impression on the beef world, having won the Royal Highland Show Overall Champion twice with commercial cattle in 2010 and 2011, as well as judging major shows throughout Scotland.
Craig buys Limousin cross British Blue heifers and sells them with calves at foot. The farm carries around 150 head and Craig sells about 70 a year with calves at foot. He trades through marts from Carlisle to Aberdeen, and has seen some outstanding prices, with this year selling to a top price of £7100 in May – a UK Record for a heifer with calf at foot.
“I was very pleased to be asked to judge something as prestigious and big as the Agri Expo,” said Craig when asked about his role at this year’s event. “I have been there a few times so in terms of what to expect I know there will be plenty of quality stock and I will be looking for a good sweet correct calf with plenty of potential and of course character.”
The sheep classes will this year be judged by William McAllister, from Co Antrim, who farms with his parents and sister near Ballymena and breeds pedigree Charolais, Shorthorns and Limousins, in addition to 150 Pedigree Beltex, Charollais Texel’s and Bleu du Maine as well as managing 200 commercial breeding sheep.
William, who is widely known for his expertise and judging skills throughout the world, has been a regular on the judging circuit in recent years, not only in Ireland but also in Scotland where he has judged the Beltex and Charollais at the Royal Highland Show, and in Wales at the Royal Welsh Show where he judged both Charolais Cattle and Charollais sheep. He has also judged Charolais Cattle at the Royal Ulster Balmoral Show, illustrating his passion and good eye for world class livestock.
In addition to his judging resume, William also has an amazing track record in the ring, having won the Beltex Champion at the Royal Highland Show in 2006 and in more recent times won the Interbreed at Balmoral in 2013 and 2014 with the home bred Charollais gimmers and Mule gimmer lamb classes, and in 2013, at the Balmoral Show, won the Junior Champion in Charolais, Shorthorns and Limousin as well as the Junior Interbreed, also winning the sheep Interbreed Champion.
“I haven’t judged at the Agri-Expo before and I am honoured to be asked. Agri Expo has a tremendous reputation and I know that in previous years there has been a fantastic showing of sheep across all breeds.
“When judging, a pair they must be a pair, they must have the same good tops, ends and correctness. I like character.”
Lancashire sheep farmer Thomas Binns, will judge the Mule Gimmer lamb class this year. Thomas, who farms near Clitheroe with his wife Sheila, runs a flock of 2,500 breeding sheep on 1,800 acres of upland ground – made up of a mule flock and a Swaledale flock, as well as some bought-in NEMSA lambs.
In looking forward to his role on the day, Thomas said: “I am privileged to be invited to judge at Agri-Expo, which is now recognised as a major event in the industry. From what I have seen from the sales this Autumn, there will without a doubt be some quality sheep around. I know that there with be great showmanship at this event and it will be a highly contested competition, so my job will be a challenge. I have judged all the main NEMSA sales in recent years, and I always like to look for sheep with size and power, length and stretch and good colourings, markings and good skins. This event is top of the list, and I very much look forward to seeing the quality of animals on show.”