Ringside viewing

New Smithfield will bring two new features to this year’s Dairy Event and Livestock Show, focusing on breed quality and added value. MTJ takes a closer look

Meat processors, butchers and producers will be offered the opportunity to pick up the latest developments in the industry with the launch of New Smithfield.

The show, which has been revitalised from the traditional Smithfield Show, is now a major feature during the Dairy Event and Livestock Show, to be held on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 September at The NEC, Birmingham.

Developed in collaboration with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) in partnership with The Royal Smithfield Club, New Smithfield aims to build on the success of the Dairy Event and Livestock Show, which was staged for the first time at the NEC in 2010, attracting a record 480 trade stand exhibitors and 16,000 visitors.

New Smithfield, an addition to the line-up for 2011, will feature two major activities inspired by RABDF and targeted at all farmers with beef enterprises. It will be staged in the two-acre Livestock Hall alongside the National All Breeds Show for dairy cattle. The Royal Smithfield Club will provide technical advice and guidance to visitors, while the RABDF will be fully responsible for organising and financing New Smithfield.

The drive for establishing both the show and New Smithfield stems from the latest data from Eblex’s Business Pointers, which shows all types of cattle and sheep enterprises, apart from the top third of intensive beef finishers, are making a loss. Furthermore, the gap between the top third and average producers widened in 2010 compared with the previous year.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of the beef and sheep sectors, marked improvements are required, said the RABDF. Better cost control, improved physical performance and better livestock prices are among the solutions.

The Dairy Event and Livestock Show already provides advice to beef producers. Almost 60% of its exhibitors in 2010 offered products of interest to beef farmers to either help improve physical performance or provide advice on better cost control.

New Smithfield is designed to offer additional advice in two new features, focusing on displays and practical demonstrations, together with a third designed for farmers investigating added-value opportunities. The features include Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) demonstrations. EBVs reflect the potential genetic performance that a bull will confer to his progeny and his subsequent economic impact.

This demonstration will help farmers, suckled calf producers, finishers or those breeding heifer replacements, to understand the meaning and impact of the various economic figures on offer, and remove the luck of the draw. The feature is open to all beef breed societies, with official recording systems – either the global Breedplan system or UK based Signet system. Each society will have the opportunity to exhibit up to four animals and parade them with an accompanying commentary twice a day on both days.

Another feature will be the beef finishing display, which will see processors invited to display four animals that have reached target finishing weight and are ready for slaughter.

These animals will be reared by finishers who understand how to exploit their cattle’s performance potential in order to meet with processors’ requirements in terms of weight and conformation. Buyers will have the opportunity to demonstrate to farmers what they are looking for when buying stock in a series of live demonstrations in the ring, at set times throughout both the days of the event.

The show will also include a MeatMakers Exhibition, which has been designed to demonstrate to livestock farmers how they can add value to meat on-farm and includes companies involved in butchery, meat processing, packaging, labelling, cool storage and transport.

RABDF chief executive Nick Everington said: “The Dairy Event and Livestock Show 2010 attracted over 4,000 beef farmers with an average enterprise size of 115 head. With the increased focus on beef in New Smithfield, the 2011 event is designed to attract even more beef producers taking advantage of the UK’s best of British beef genetics and finishing cattle on display together with the wide range of accompanying beef-related products on offer designed to help all farming business improve their efficiency and sustainability.”

Royal Smithfield Club chairman Angus Stovold said: “We are extremely excited about the New Smithfield feature at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show. It will deliver real benefit to hard-pressed beef producers. Many livestock farmers do not understand the importance of EBVs or producing what the market wants. To have this explained using live demonstrations and for them to be able to talk to potential buyers and see their requirements first-hand is what the industry needs.

“The show also gives farmers an opportunity to compare many products and companies under one roof, and that, today, is unique.”

New Smithfield builds on the heritage of more than 200 years of the Royal Smithfield Show, which, in its heyday, was the premier livestock and machinery exhibition for the meat industry.

The Royal Smithfield Club hopes the new revamped version of the show will ensure a lengthy future for the event, ending a number of years of unsettled turbulence.