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By MICHAEL POLLITT, Agricultural editor
Saturday, December 15, 2012
A record number of butchers and farmers from across the county took part in the third annual Norfolk Christmas beef carcase show and sale.
The standard of carcases was the highest ever, said managing director Andrew Clarke, of Blake’s abattoir at Felthorpe, near Norwich.
The judge, Adrian Crowe, of MLC Services, had a total of 52 selected carcases entered in the annual competition for continental heifer and steers and also the native breed category. They were split into five classes, two for light and heavy continental steers and heifers plus native breed
The 20 best carcases were displayed and then offered for sale by the guest auctioneer, Graham Ellis, of Stanfords, of Colchester.
“We were especially delighted to welcome so many customers including farmers and also a number of butchers who attended for the first time,” said Mr Clarke.
“This has become the annual carcase show for butchers in Norfolk,” he added.
Mid-Norfolk farmer Roger Long, of Hillfield, Scarning, near Dereham, won the supreme championship with an 18-month-old Limousin heifer. The 321kg carcase, which won the light continental heifer class and was graded E4L, was bought by Mayhew Clarke, for Clarke’s Quality Meats, of Hevingham, for 470p per kg or a total of £1,512.
The reserve champion, also a Limousin, won the continental steer class. The 333kg carcase, graded E3, was entered by Alan Peck, of Erpingham, near Aylsham, and was also bought for Clarke’s Quality Meats for 445p kg or £1,478.
Mr Long, who is also one of the two Norfolk livestock delegates on the National Farmers’ Union’s regional livestock board, had a very successful show. He took first and second in the light continental heifer class and also a fourth place in the heavy continental heifer class, which was graded E4L.
“The standard is getting exceptional but then I would say that. The standard of carcases has been getting better and better – when you have E3 400kg steer which doesn’t get in the first four – it shows the quality of entries,” he said.
And Mr Long’s local butcher, Terry’s of Nelson Place, Dereham, was delighted to buy a prize-winning carcase from his nearest farm. Butcher Jamie Langham, who works with his father, Terry, said: “Every one is keen to buy local. I think we’ve got beef from probably our nearest farm to our shop. It is just a mile and a half away. I don’t think that we could possibly get any more local.”
He said that they would be dressing the shop window with prize cards and rosettes. Although they have supported the first two carcase shows, they were especially pleased to buy some extra special beef for their Christmas trade.
“We’re keen to source beef locally but we can’t really get any closer to the producer,” said Mr Langham.
Of the 16 prize-winning continental carcases, all but two were Limousin. In the heavy steer class, Mr Peck took third with a British Blue, weighing 433kg, and Suffolk producer Colin Reeve was fourth with a 462kg Blonde D’Aquitaine.
Mr Clarke said that about 175 people supported the show and helped to raise £1,500 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, which was the charity nominated by company chairman, Jane Blake.
She made mulled wine and guests then enjoyed roast rump of beef cooked by Richard Lilwall, of Jordans Green, Bawdeswell.
Mr Clarke was pleased to welcome several new customers including Hempnall Butchers, who bought the first prize continental heifer from Tom Seaman, of Suton, near Wymondham, for 445p kg. Other successful bidders included Graves of Briston; Tony Perkins, of Attleborough and Pepperell Meats, of Harleston.
Award-winning North Norfolk butcher, Sam Papworth, bought back their own native breed champion. The 317kg Aberdeen Angus heifer, which made 445p kg, is destined for their shops in North Walsham and Sheringham. His father, Jim, also bought another Limousin heifer for Papworth Butchers at Fakenham and Swaffham.
“We wanted to make sure that our customers got a chance to enjoy some prize-winning beef over Christmas.
“The quality of the carcases was outstanding,” he added.
In the native breed class, Mr Long was runner-up with a South Devon X heifer, which was bought by P & S Butchers, of Holt. The third-place Lincoln Red X steer from Tony Bambridge, of Park Farm, Blickling, went to Crawford White, of Aylsham, and the fourth-placed Aberdeen Angus X heifer made 400p kg to MA Perry, of Great Yarmouth.
With a reputation as one of the toughest people in business, many stores would shudder at the thought of getting the Mary Portas treatment.