The Royal Norfolk Show 2017: 8 farming events to look out for
- Credit: Colin Finch
The Royal Norfolk Show – two days when the county's farmers and farmworkers get together for a catch-up, a pint and a look at what's new in a business which is still a mainstay of the local economy.
The farming fraternity is very conscious that they are on show at Costessey – the wonderful livestock and food and drink offering are a showcase for the industry and always a backdrop to what has become a wonderfully diverse two-day country event. This year look out for:
1. The Red Poll National Show
The Red Poll was produced by crossing the milky Suffolk Dun with the meaty Norfolk Red in the early part of the 19th century. The breed society was established in 1888 and the breed was a popular milking cow and beef animal right up until the middle of the 20th century. The Red Poll could not compete with the Friesian as a milking animal and the arrival of the continental breeds triggered its decline as a beef animal. The modern Red Poll is used mainly in beef suckler herds although there are still several milking herds around the country.
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2. The Sheep Show
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Appearing at more than 100 shows a year and in front of an estimated audience of 2.5 million people, the unique Sheep Show has captured the hearts of many. The New Zealand-style team of presenters educate and entertain with their fantastic sheep all over the country. Nobby, the Norfolk Horn, stands centre stage while others are introduced to their podiums. We learn about each breed's attributes and how wool from the sheep's back becomes a jumper to wear. The 30-minute show is cleverly devised and is highly entertaining and extremely informative, a rare combination. The highlight of the show is 'The sheep show Hustle' – dancing sheep!
3. Small livestock
Many different breeds of rabbits, cavies, ducks, chickens, turkeys and up to 1,000 eggs can be viewed in this highly popular marquee. Judges from all over the country will be examining the entries which range from Pet Juvenile classes up to the Best of Breeds. Championship rosettes and diplomas awarded by the British Rabbit Council will be on offer, together with many poultry rosettes from supporting clubs. Take the opportunity to see the life cycle of a rabbit, including meeting a rabbit in a showing class, along with a range of information about the Norfolk Grey chicken, a local breed of poultry.
4. The Queen's Prize Perpetual Challenge Trophy
This is presented on behalf of the Queen and will be awarded this year to the best animal in the Beef Cattle section, including Commercial Beef, owner bred, by an exhibitor whose premises are within the county of Norfolk.
5. Heygates Country Foods Interbreed Competition
This is the culmination of Wednesday's classes when the winning breed group is announced in the Grand Ring during the Grand Parade of Cattle. The winners will be presented with the magnificent silver Colman's Mustard Perpetual Trophy.
6. The Young Handlers
After hours of training, washing, grooming and getting to know their animals, the Young Handlers stock-handling skills are put to the test as they strive to become Champion Young Handler of their section on Thursday.
The show hosts an amazing array of pigs, with almost 150 pens of pigs across 10 different breeds. The Wednesday breed classes will lead to the Supreme Championship, qualifiers for the BPA Pig and Young Pig of the Year Final and Interbreed Pairs all to be awarded on Thursday.
Piggy Tricks and Young Handlers will also take place in the pig ring, behind the Food Hall. Don't miss the opportunity to talk to exhibitors and learn more about these inquisitive and intelligent animals. Modern and traditional breeds will be penned for visitors to admire.
The sheep rings will provide a full timetable of talent, as about 800 sheep are judged over the course of two days. Experienced judges will select top-quality livestock as champions for each of the 18 breed sections. The judge's chosen champions from each breed section will be sent forward for the Thursday championships. Butchers Lambs will be pen-judged in dedicated Butchers Lambs areas so the public can get a closer look.