Top British Livestock Event Showcases the Best of Livestock and Agricultural Services

18th October 2017

Attracting some of the very finest British livestock, Harrison and Hetherington’s Borderway Agri-Expo is now seen by many in the industry as the UK’s leading winter livestock event.  Annually, its reputation grows as both a livestock show and industry support exhibition, and the 2017 event taking place on Friday 3rd November is once again a guaranteed agricultural showcase.

A key event for the industry, the numbers are impressive; there is a prize fund of £17,000, over 42 livestock classes and 6 breed society shows.  There will be in the region of 950 head of cattle and sheep being shown in the livestock classes, with dozens of Young Farmers demonstrating their showmanship.  This is all backed up by numerous stewards and helpers.  All sectors of the livestock industry will be represented across the 160 trade stands, each showcasing their latest products, their vision of the future and giving both expert advice and welcome hospitality.

The livestock being exhibited highlights the tremendous quality of British sheep and cattle and the UK’s high standards of care in animal welfare and husbandry.  In addition to the commercial sheep and cattle classes and also baby beef classes,  Borderway Agri-Expo also features six breed society shows which include the:

  • Aberdeen Angus Winter National Show, including Walkers Shortbread Aberdeen Angus Herd of the Year Competition
  • Border British Blue Calf Show
  • Beef Shorthorn National Calf Show
  • Hereford Regional Calf Show
  • Simmental Regional Calf Show

This year’s judges, selected from the north, south, east and west of the country, all bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge.  Judging the main Cattle classes is cattle and sheep breeder, Chris Pennie, from Gwern Yr Ychain, Montgomery in Wales.  Judging the Baby Beef, Showmanship and Young Handler classes is Sarah Wareham of Little Tottingworth Farm, near Heathfield in East Sussex.  The main Sheep classes will this year be judged by Chris Wright, a wholesale butcher at the family-run A. Wright & Son in Boston, Lincolnshire and the Mule Gimmer class will be judged by Northumberland livestock farmer, Martyn Archer, from Low Carry House, Wark, near Hexham.

Harrison & Hetherington’s Operations Director and Event Organiser, David Pritchard, explains its expanding role in developing the industry:

“Farmers must always look to the future, and this has never been more important as we are pre-Brexit.  We are in a unique period of certainty and moving forward people need to know what is happening from a wider industry perspective.  As an industry platform the show itself not only plays a fundamental part in endorsing the success of British beef and sheep production, the trade stands and exhibits highlight the latest commercial and pedigree breed statistics, trends and cutting-edge technology.  Everyone who is exhibiting at Agri-Expo, I know has one common goal – to help support livestock farmers and maximise their potential in all areas.”

This year there is a hugely diverse range of trade stands, from handling equipment to pharmaceutical, with feed companies, pedigree societies and industry bodies; many attending for the first time.  These are drawn from the length and breadth of the UK, whilst at the same time play an invaluable part in supporting the local economy and businesses in Carlisle and the surrounding area.

One Cumbrian company, who has exhibited at Agri-Expo since the beginning, is Carlisle based Johnston Tractors Ltd.  Steph Pollock, Sales Coordinator, explains:

“For us, it’s one of the premier events in the year where we can interact with our major customer base.  We have representatives attending from our Sales & Service departments who are available to provide any information people may need on our products and services.  Our team enjoy welcoming visitors to our stand at the Expo, and will do for many years to come.”

Demonstrating the importance of Agri-Expo to the industry is the support, endorsement and active participation of its mainline sponsors: Carrs Billington, Morrisons, Norbrook, Lloyds Bank and Farmers Guardian.  All represent different areas of business within the livestock industry and all are integral to its ongoing and long-term future.  Undoubtedly their sponsorship is seen as integral to the event.

The attraction of the livestock being exhibited remains the key reason for the event.  While attendees are usually experienced in the finer points of the cattle and sheep on show, they are unlikely to be aware of the backgrounds of the exhibitors, whose polished techniques each hopes will give the edge to their champions-in-waiting.

Someone who is a fairly recent cattle exhibitor at Agri-Expo is Ashley Bothwell of Smithston Farm, Patna, Ayr.  He has been a regular exhibitor on the pedigree sheep circuit, showing Smithston’s Suffolks, and has only shown cattle at Agri-Expo for the last two years.  Last year, a four month old Charolais Bullock, which he still owns, achieved Baby Beef Reserve Champion and then went on to scoop Overall Charolais Champion.

Giving his feedback on the event Ashley said:

“Showing is my hobby however, as a producer it also provides me with a platform to meet with people to raise our profile and to market our stock to a UK wide audience.  I was absolutely delighted with what we achieved last year and I was certainly not expecting it.  For me, Borderway Agri-Expo is 100% the best autumn/winter show that there is and I am looking forward to again this year.”

This year Ashley will be showing two April/May born Limousin Bullocks.

Andrew Reid, who farms the 2000 acres family farm – Glendearg Farm, Eskdalemuir, Langholm – produces South Country Cheviots.  He has exhibited at Agri-Expo for four years. He adds:

“We have 1000 ewes and regularly show prime lambs.  Over the years at Agri-Expo we have done quite well in the section classes.  Agri-Expo is an important event for the industry and I have enjoyed seeing it go from strength to strength.  We show there because it helps to raise the profile of our own individual flock as well as the benefits of the breed itself; it really is about letting the audience see the stock.

“These events are not necessarily about winning, it is about taking part.  If you are in amongst big classes – they are big classes in many of them now – the competition element is quite intense.  So if we pick up a rosette it is an added bonus.”

Andrew will be showing his South Country Cheviot lambs this year with support from his mother, sister and girlfriend.

The younger generation have always played an important part in the success of Agri-Expo, and through both Young Farmers classes and Showmanship classes, it provides the foundations for competitive showing.  Two such individuals are brother and sister team Beth and Luke Wilkinson, today aged 18 and 16 respectively.  They have both been brought up in the showing world and it really is part of their DNA.

Their parents have a small holding where they breed their own British Blue cross and Limousin cross suckler cows.  Luke first started showing when he was three.  His mother remembers him in the early years falling asleep on the bales of hay and straw when it all got too much for him.

Each year the pair have their pick of the calves and if they are not happy stock is bought in from BR Lawson and son, Buddle House.  Over the years, as young handlers, both Beth and Luke have had great success and have won many prizes.

Showing their own home-bred heifer Millie in 2013 made this a good showing year for the Whytes family.  Sadly, after having a British Blue calf, she passed away due to infection.  Understandably both Beth and Luke were devastated.  They hand-reared her calf and both agreed that they had no choice but to call her Millie.

At this stage they were unaware of what an amazing heifer the family had bred.  In 2015 Millie went on to win almost every show – she was Reserve Champion at the Great Yorkshire Show, Reserve Champion at Countryside Live, Reserve Champion at Smithfield and Reserve Champion at the English Winter Fair.  The following year we had almost the same results with a BB cross heifer, Americano.”

Showing under Wilkinson and Marwood, Beth and Luke are very well known in the showing world.  The pride they take has resulted in them being invited to show cattle for other people.  They have shown for Robert Miller (Northern Ireland) winning many shows both here and in Ireland where Luke has scooped many young handler competitions.  Over the last few years the family has also taken cattle in to halter train, and with their tremendous patience, both Beth and Luke play a huge part in this.

Earlier this year the two each made a huge personal investment in purchasing their own Limousin heifer in joint partnership with John Smith Jackson.  Being highly competitive they are now looking forward to showing at Borderway Agri- Expo under the auspices of B&L Wilkinson/Smith Jackson.

So on a final note David Pritchard said: “

“As the UK’s largest livestock trading business it is always a pleasure to welcome sponsors, exhibitors and visitors to Carlisle for Borderway Agri-Expo.  Throughout the year, the entire Harrison and Hetherington team always feel very privileged to have the opportunity sell some of the finest livestock produced in the UK.  By hosting Agri Expo it is the aim for us to provide a platform for our producers to showcase their livestock in a competitive environment and through the trade show to give people the opportunity to learn from experts in their field.

Programme of Events – 2017

08:30   National Suckled Calf and Primestock Cattle Classes (22 classes plus Championship)
08:30   National Prime Sheep Classes (20 classes plus Championship)
08:30   Border British Blue Club Calf Show (8 classes plus Championship)
08:30   Simmental Society and Regional Calf Show (8 classes plus Championships)
09:00   Baby Beef (6 classes plus Championship)
10:00   Stockjudging Competition – Agri-Expo Stocks Person of the Year
10:30   Aberdeen Angus Winter National Show (12 classes plus Championships)
10.30   Beef Shorthorn Society National Calf Show (8 classes plus Championships)
13.00   Hereford Regional Calf Show (7 classes plus Championships)
13:30   Best Pair of Mule Ewe Lambs
16:00   Championship Awards and Presentations