27th April, 2018
Competitors will already be getting animal preparations under way, putting every effort into impressing the judges. So it’s vital that those judges presiding over the 4,500 entries are top class, says head of shows Alan Lyons.
The extremely experienced and reliable hands of Roger Pascoe will take over the judging reins in the Any Other Native Beef Breed category this year. Roger – who lives in Marazion, west Cornwall – has been showing cattle for 60 years and knows more than a thing or two about cattle. “I have shown a number of cattle breeds and horses,” he says. On top of this, he has judged at the Royal Welsh Show, Monmouthshire Show and previously at the Royal Bath & West.
Roger is almost unique in that he is a freelance showman. Not having his own cattle or farm – though his father previously had South Devons – he trains and shows cattle on behalf of other farmers. He has had a number of successes across the country and has taken cattle as far as Perth in Scotland.
It can be hard comparing different breeds of cattle, so when judging, Roger is looking for balance right through the animal. “Conformation is everything and I want to see the breed characteristics of each breed present. If it doesn’t look like that breed should, then it probably won’t pass on the typical breed characteristics to its offspring,” he explains. “If exhibitors have a good animal and it’s well fed, then they are 90% of the way there.”
He suggests that exhibitors should start getting animals ready for show as early as they can. “If you’re chasing to get ready, things can happen and get in the way. Ours are all halter broken and ready for the summer now. Spend time with the animals, learn how it thinks and find each one’s quirks.”
Judging the South Devons this year is Oliver Rounsevell. Though a younger judge than Roger, Oliver is by no means inexperienced and has already judged several events this year. Farming 550 acres at High Gate Farm, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, he has 80 pedigree South Devon cows with followers that are either finished for beef or sold for breeding. His family have had a pedigree South Devon herd since 1930 and Oliver has both shown and judged the breed.
“I have done several local and national shows and have just judged the spring bull sale at Exeter, and have previously judged the South Devon National herd competition.” He is also on the South Devon Herd Book Society council and has seen a number of his own success in the National Herd competition.
When judging at the Royal Bath & West, Oliver will be looking for a strong and big framed animal. “It has to have good breed characteristics and as the largest native beef breed I want to see this stature. They are very docile animals which is the main reason farmers are swapping to them, so I want docility and ease of handling.”
He thinks that the Show is a great way of advertising the breed to the public and has seen the past 14 years do wonders for South Devons. “The breed has spread throughout the country and as far afield as the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Showing is really about getting the breed seen by the general public.”