Virtual video judging for cattle competition a first for county show

Virtual video judging is to be trialled for the first time at one of the biggest events in the country next month in a bid to ensure cattle farmers don’t miss out on showing their star attractions.

Organisers of Staffordshire County Show are taking the unusual step after fears that cattle entries for this year’s event on May 31 and June 1 may be down because of TB.

It will also offer the opportunity for those who don’t normally show their cattle at the event to take part.

The show takes place during school half term and is expected to attract 65,000 visitors through its gates on Weston Road, Stafford, over the two days.

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society, said other livestock entries were flooding in but organisers felt they needed to try something to ensure a full complement in the cattle classes.

“We will not know the livestock entry numbers until at least two or three days after the closing date on May 1, but early indications are that it will be another record year for both pig and sheep entries,” he said.

“I fear cattle entries will once again be adversely affected by TB, so we have decided to introduce a new system - virtual video judging.

“In a completely new venture, we will be trialling Virtual Black and White Pedigree and Commercial Dairy Cattle classes in a bid to encourage dairy farmers who either do not normally show their cattle, or are affected by TB.

“Cattle entered in these classes will be filmed on the farms of exhibitors at a mutually convenient date between May 1 and 23rd by GB Bulls.

“The judge will then view footage of each class and make a decision based on production - the production index - and inspection. There will be three classes: Heifer in Milk; Cow in Milk; and Senior Cow in Milk.

“Class winners will be announced at the Staffordshire County Show on Wednesday, May 31, with the overall champion and reserve announced the following day. Prize money for each class will be 1st, £50; 2nd, £35; 3rd, £20.

“It is hoped that a competition will also be held during the show to give the public the chance to see if they can correctly pick the Champion and Reserve ahead of the judging.

“The virtual judging will be an interesting concept and we hope exhibitors will take advantage of the opportunity to show their cattle in this way. However, time is running short to get those entries in and I would encourage anyone interested to get in touch as soon as possible.”