Record entry for Norfolk beef carcase show

Two superb entries in the light heifer class took the supreme awards in the second annual Norfolk Carcase Show and Sale.

Organised by HG Blake at the Felthorpe abattoir, the show attracted a record 49 entries in five classes and was judged by Adrian Crowe, of MLC Services, for the second year.

He awarded the supreme champion-ship to LF Papworth, of Lodge Farm, Felmingham, North Walsham, for a lightweight 16-month-old Limousin X heifer. 'It was absolutely spot on with a lovely shape and not too big,' said Mr Crowe.

Weighing 282kg, it was a perfect butcher's beast. 'It scored on all the points and had a great profile with good width across the rump and width across the forequarter. It had a nice covering of fat, a decent loin and importantly the butcher can break it down and use every bit of it. The fore rib will eat very well,' he added.

Jim Papworth and elder son Tim later bought the champion carcase for the family's Papworth butchers' shops, for 625p kg. 'We bought the heifer in February and we've fed it exactly the same as all the others,' he added. And remarkably, the reserve championship, which was shown by John Nickalls, of Suton, near Wymondham, had also been bred by the same West Country breeder.

Mr Crowe said that it had been a very close decision because he also appreciated the fine qualities of the Limousin, which was just slightly heavier and tipped the scales at 340.4kg.

Mr Nickalls, who was recovering from a series of operations, said that his grandson, Tom Seaman, had stepped into the breach when his illness prevented him from looking after his cattle earlier this spring. Together they reared about 60 cattle each year. Their reserve champion was bought for 410p kg by Andrew Edmonds, of Bradwell Butchers, near Yarmouth.

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Mr Clarke, managing director, thanked the guest auctioneer, Graham Ellis, of Stanfords of Colchester, and also the large number of beef producers. The team at Blake's had also worked very hard to stage the show at what is the busiest time of the year for the meat trade, he added.

Earlier, more than 120 farmers and butchers had an opportunity to view the finer points of a selection of six beef carcases, which displayed a range of characteristics. Mr Crowe, who also staged a similar exercise with nine students inspecting lamb carcases from Easton College, said that it was really important to improve producers' returns.

'It costs farmers money to produce over-fat carcases and butchers don't want beef with excessive amounts of fat cover. And given that it can cost �60 tonne to have fat taken away for disposal, it just depressed overall returns,' he added.

One carcase, which had excess beef cover, could have been sent for slaughter six to eight weeks earlier – saving the farmer money in feed costs and also producing a better carcase. As it was, there was probably a penalty of about 40p per kg, suggested Mr Crowe.

He urged farmers to watch the classification of their stock because it could help in the long-term to improve production of better quality cattle.

A charity auction and raffle in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance raised �2,050, including an �180 bid by Mid-Norfolk beef producer Roger Long for a lamb given by Alan Peck. Butcher and caterer Paul Graves, of Briston, paid �75 for a selection of liqueurs and Mayhew Clarke bid �240 for a prime gilt donated by Anglia Quality Meats. A cuddly toy was bought by Jane Blake for �85.