The curtain set to come down on Yorkshire’s agricultural show season

It’s nearly curtain down time again on another magnificent Yorkshire agricultural show season.
BEST OF BREEDS: Some of the Aderdeen Angus herd head across the fields at Treebridge Farm with Ropseberry Topping in the background.BEST OF BREEDS: Some of the Aderdeen Angus herd head across the fields at Treebridge Farm with Ropseberry Topping in the background.
BEST OF BREEDS: Some of the Aderdeen Angus herd head across the fields at Treebridge Farm with Ropseberry Topping in the background.

Today sees Penistone Show take centre stage in South Yorkshire, but next Saturday it is the turn of Stokesley Show in North Yorkshire before Nidderdale Show brings it to a close two days later.

These three shows fit into that big-one-day show tier under the Great Yorkshire Show that also includes Driffield, Ryedale and Kilnsey.

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David Evans of Treebridge Farm, Nunthorpe, less than a handful of miles from the showground is now chair of the Stokesley Show management committee in addition to being chief cattle steward. His wife Penny shows their pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle while David attends to the needs of others.

“Stokesley is a great show for cattle. We have a great reputation with close to 200 entries every year. We have a Hereford class for the first time this year. I always say if breeders can get the numbers and have the enthusiasm we will put on breed classes.

“The Aberdeen Angus, Shorthorns and Blondes all came that way. Our dairy breeds are fantastic. We have classes for them all including the Dexters. The dairy classes got a bit wobbly a few years ago, but the entries are good this year.

“Exhibitors and visitors are sometimes amazed at the calibre of judges we attract and how far they travel. This year our judges come from as far afield as Powys in Wales and Castle Douglas in Scotland. In recent years we have had one of the foremost Limousin judges in the country, who came from Devon. I’m a great believer in that phrase ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’.

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“Penny shows our stock with some help from a stockman friend of ours Jim Borland who comes down from Kelso and assists. We’ve never won the Interbreed title at Stokesley, but we’ve had breed champion a few times. This year we are taking a cow, a calf and a heifer. We had reserve breed champion that was female champion at Lincolnshire Show.”

David and Penny married in 1984 and moved in to Treebridge Farm that today runs to 270 acres, which includes around 140 acres rented from a neighbour.

“My dad moved us to Yorkshire in 1970 and had moved here in 1977. At that time the farm ran to just 60 acres. Penny and I have grown the farm. We started with pedigree Aberdeen Angus in 1995 having had commercial cattle previously and thought it would be a way to add value.

“That has proved to be the case. We were supplying Angus X cattle to Dovecote Park for Waitrose and being with them probably helped us in having a handle on what the market wants. We’ve gently grown the numbers since then.

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“‘We feel our Angus cattle suit what the market wants today. We are not kidding ourselves that as pedigree breeders we are always going to sell bulls to pedigree herds here, there and everywhere. We’re not. We live in the real world and we are effectively producing bulls for the commercial market with the odd one going to a pedigree herd.

“Calving is predominantly in spring, generally starting in April with another batch around now. It’s that way so that we always have bulls to sell. We have a number that are ready to work at the moment.

“Our herd runs to around 70-75 Angus cows, we have three stock bulls and we use AI and embryo work. Last year we sold 32 bulls as working bulls to both dairy men and beef men from Northumberland to Wales and North Yorkshire to the Borders. 80 per cent of our bulls go to repeat customers.

“We also sell at the breed sales in Carlisle, Stirling and Worcester. Going to sales helps us fix the price for selling them from home.

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“We have sold females in the past to new breeders who are looking to set up their own herds – and because we sell so many bulls it is always important we have many different cow families within our herd.

“We currently have 14 represented through the herd and we bought a cow from a different cow family in Ireland three years ago. She hasn’t had a heifer yet. Our three going to Stokesley are all from the Polly Perkins family.”

David became part of the Stokesley Show stewarding team around twenty years ago.

“I was rung up to ask if I’d help with the cattle. It is the only part of the show I would have considered. In those days we had Clifford Petch as chief cattle steward and then Les Donaldson took over. I then stepped in when Les retired.

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“My role as chair of the manage-ment committee is to provide a strategy for moving the show forward. We then take our work to the show council that is chaired by Neal Waters. Our aim is to leave the show in a better condition than when we started.’

Stokesley Show attracts around 20,000 and takes place next Saturday, September 21.