BENEATH THE village’s imposing limestone crag, Kilnsey Show returned to the Yorkshire Dales for the 118th time and was boosted by a growing high quality sheep section to neatly coincide with the start of British Lamb Week.
Across 15 classes sheep were well represented in prime hill farming territory but once again it was a sheep from the foot of the Howardian Hills that outshone its rivals to claim the sheep championship at the show.
Returning champion, Whenby farmer Charles Marwood, completed a remarkable clean sweep of supreme championship victories turning the winner out here as well as at every show he has visited this summer, including the Great Yorkshire, Driffield and Ryedale - all with his two-shear Charollais ram, Rhaeadr Nock.
Reserve sheep champions were John and Alison North of Giggleswick with a Texel shearling gimmer bought as a lamb from John Mellin of Hellifield.
Winner, Mr Marwood said: “There is a tremendous competition of sheep at this show so you have to aim to turn out something that is that bit extra special.”
Mr Marwood sells rams and reported strong trade at last month’s National Sheep Association early season ram sale in Wales where he achieved the top price of 1,300 guineas.
But this year has largely been one to forget for lamb producers, with a weak euro against the pound making imports popular with retailers early in the season.
Local auctioneer, Ted Ogden, of CCM Auctions, Skipton, said: “It has been a more difficult year for lamb marketing, particularly in the early part of the year. The pound’s strength against the euro has been the biggest problem but in the last week or two a revaluation of the euro has put a little bit of bounce back in.”
Lamb consumption has dropped and so British Lamb Week is the industry’s attempt to enthuse shoppers about its qualities. Butcher Chris Wildman, of Town End Farm Shop in nearby Airton, gave a demonstration in the show’s cookery theatre and said mutton was enjoying a renaissance: “We don’t so much put it on the shelves but we get interest about it in the shop and when we ring round customers to see how much they want we’ve been taking orders.”
Chris Dickinson, West Riding county adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “It’s about getting the best value possible out of carcasses, especially when the price for lamb is low, and the quality of sheep on show here is fantastic. We just need the support of retailers to promote British lamb better.”
In dairy farming, a global oversupply of milk has left farmers receiving prices seven or eight pence per litre below the cost of production.
Georgina Fort, of Silsden Moor, whose family’s Holstein won the dairy cattle championship, said: “Too many farmers have been multiplying their cattle numbers. There’s too much milk in this country. We haven’t grown our herd for ten years but we are trying to sit it. With 300 acres of land what else are we going to do?”
A Holstein, shown by the Booth family of Earby, was the reserve dairy champion, while in the beef rings, the winner was a Limousin belonging to SSJC Lunn of Huddersfield.
A British Blue cow and calf paraded by the Hartleys of Roughlee, Nelson finished runner up.
As well as the livestock, there were classes in traditional crafts such as dry stone walling and walking stick making, and the fell racing up the steep crag next to the show field at the end of the afternoon once again proved a key attraction.
Thousands of visitors stood and watched on as 85 racers in the open class battled it out over perilous terrain. British fell racing champion, Simon Bailey of Cheshire, came first, followed by ten-times race winner Rob Hope in second and local favourite, Ted Mason of Appletreewick in third.