Beef Expo offers Northumberland showcase to industry

Willie and Christine Woodman.
Willie and Christine Woodman.
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A packed programme of events and a record showing entry will form the centrepiece of this year’s National Beef Association (NBA) Beef Expo, which returns to Hexham Mart in May.

The key beef industry event is returning to the mart on May 21 and 22, 2014, for the first time since 2010.

Farm tours form an integral part of the sector showcase, before visitors converge on the mart for a programme exhibiting the best of British beef and highlighting new developments in the industry with seminars presented by key experts from the sector.

NBA Beef Expo gives visitors the opportunity to see some of the finest store cattle in the country.

The farm tours, on Wednesday, May 21, will take in three leading Northumbrian beef farms, Willie Woodman’s Great Chesters upland farm and hislowland enterprise at Bradford, plus John and Andrew Hunter’s Steel Farm.

The Charolais and Limousin cattle that guests will see are key features in the seasonal sales at Hexham Mart.

Willie will provide a glimpse into a traditional Northumberland beef enterprise. He farms 1,650 acres at two bases which are 30 miles apart – 1,200 acres at Great Chesters in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall, and 575 acres at Bradford House, near Belsay.

The Woodmans have 270 cattle, mainly Limousin crosses with a few Belgian crosses, with 50 to 60 bulling heifers, plus 1,100 sheep made up of 700 Blackfaces and 400 Mule and Texel crosses.

Using Charolais and Limousin bulls, the Woodmans calve in the autumn and spring, and sell their stores in the spring. The majority are sold at Hexham Mart at 18-22 months and replacement cattle are bought in.

Andrew Hunter and wife Caroline farm The Steel, an 800-acre farm with an additional 55 acres at West Woodburn. They have 110 Limousin cross suckler cows and 720 Hexham black face ewes.

This is an upland farm that is trying to breed good commercial store cattle.

Those visiting The Steel will see some 12 to 14 month-old cattle ready to sell, and autumn and spring calving cows running with calves at foot. For breeding, the Hunters use Limousin bulls.

Cattle are sold through Hexham Mart, aged between 11 and 13 months.

The quality is apparent by their record in the Suckler Championship for a pen of four Limousin cattle at Hexham, which the Hunters have won for the last two years.

Robert Addison, chairman of NBA Beef Expo 2014, said: “The farm visits will provide a great insight for farmers from all over the UK to see how successful Northumbrian beef farmers run their enterprises.

“Hopefully, visitors will see some ideas they can take home and put into operation on their own farms.”

Some of the stock on display during the tours will be shown at the Spring Spectacular Show and sold at Hexham on the Friday after the event.

The show, with more than 120 head of the best of Britain’s beef cattle, features 16 classes that will be appraised by top class judges.

Philip Parrott, from Buckinghamshire, will do the honours in the Native, Continental and Supreme Championships and Bedfordshire-based Kevin Ludgate will assess the Baby Beef and Young Handlers classes.

The show has a prize fund of £6,000 and £700 prize for the Supreme Champion, which is sure to attract top professionals from around the UK.

Special classes have also been organised for young handlers and showing novices to gain experience without having to worry about competing against the experts.

The Young Show Stars Challenge, which takes place throughout the day, will be a highlight for both competitors and the audience.

With competitors aged between 14 and 23, the challenge for the 12 teams of three, including one from Canada, is to show off their skills in preparing, presenting and parading an animal for the show ring, as well as a stock judging and promoting different cattle breeds and types.

Robert said: “The Young Show Star Challenge puts the next generation of exhibitors in the spotlight and gives them the chance to experience the entire showing process in a competitive atmosphere.

“We are already expecting record entries for the main Spring Spectacular Show and we anticipate that the Young Show Star Challenge will be just as keenly contested.

“The showing element of this year’s event is shaping up to be the best we’ve ever seen at a Beef Expo and I’m looking forward to seeing the very best of British beef cattle in Hexham.”

The specialist industry seminars are always an important element of NBA Beef Expo, and this year there are individual seminars on beef marketing and animal health, with three speakers, all specialists in their field, covering different aspects of the chosen beef industry themes. These seminars provide a platform for an open question and answer forum.

In addition to showcasing some of the finest livestock in the country, there will also be 20 beef breed society displays of cattle.

Beef Expo is a renowned forum for sharing technical advice and industry developments, and the event will feature more than 150 commercial and educational trade stands.

The dairy herd demonstration will be one of the specialist displays, in addition to machinery displays and demonstrations, educational platforms and industry stakeholders.

Ticket prices

NBA Members: £10 in advance for main event day; £30 in advance for farm tour and main event day.

Non NBA Members: £12 in advance for main event day; £35 for farm tour and main event day.

Groups of more than 8: £10 in advance for main event day.

Farm tour tickets: £25 in advance.

All tickets on day of event £15. Children under 16, free.

For further information and advanced tickets, visit www.beefexpo.co.uk or contact organiser Euan Emslie on 01430 441870, email euan@nationalbeefassociation.com or the NBA headquarters on 01434 601005, email Helen@nationalbeefassociation.com