Aberdeen Christmas Classic comes of age

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The Aberdeen Christmas Classic, long regarded as one of the UK’s leading prime stock shows, comes of age this year by celebrating its 21st anniversary.

Almost 500 cattle and sheep from many of the country’s leading livestock producers will be on show at Inverurie’s Thainstone Centre on Monday and Tuesday next week.

That line-up will once again ensure a large number of butchers and buyers from across the UK head to the North-east seeking to buy top quality livestock for the Christmas market.

This year’s prime stock entries comprise of 80 cattle and 150 sheep and include many top prize winners from Scotland’s leading summer shows.

In addition, there is also a healthy female pedigree sheep show and sale with 185 entries in the Texel, Suffolk, Beltex, Charollais and Blue Faced Leicester classes.

That sheep show includes a Beltex dispersal sale from Kevin Moir’s Rosebrae flock at St Katherine’s, Inverurie and a Blue Faced Leicester dispersal from Robbie Scott’s Drumpark flock at Cornhill.

Along with the shows and sales of prime and pedigree cattle, sheep and pigs, the two-day Classic also has a popular young farmers’ competition.

Those young farmers’ classes have been given a boost for this year’s event by a rule change which has widened the age range for entrants which is now increased to those aged up to 29. There is also a strong pedigree cattle show and sale with 45 entries plus a pedigree Holstein heifer sale.

Last year’s event saw father and son James and Mark Munro, of Invercharron, Ardgay, Sutherland, take the supreme title with their 19-month-old Limousin cross heifer champion

Thunder Thighs and also the steer championship with their 18-month-old Limousin cross Bo Selecta.

The prime sheep championship went to Rory Gregor, of Oakfield, Thainstone, Inverurie, with a pair of Charollais cross lambs while in the pedigree sheep sale there was a new centre record of 3,500gns paid for a Texel gimmer from James Innes of Dunscroft, Gartly, Huntly.

The Aberdeen Fatstock Association, which organises the event along with Aberdeen & Northern Marts, has a new president this year in well-known livestock exhibitor Angus Greenlaw, of Sheep Park Farms, Bridge of Marnoch, Huntly. Joining Angus is a new vice-president in Gordon Simpson, of Kirkland, Forgue, Huntly, to complete a Strathbogie double.

Judges for this year’s event include Scotland’s top butcher Gary Raeburn of Forbes Raeburn, Huntly and Alan Healy, operations director of Coventry-based catering butcher Aubrey Allen, who will look after the haltered cattle classes.

Among the other judges is James Nisbet of the renowned family-owned beef farming and butchering business at Sorn Mains, Mauchline in East Ayrshire, who will be judging the young farmers’ cattle classes.

Also in the line-up is Michael Wilson of Woodhead Brothers abattoir in Turriff, who will be judging the unhaltered cattle and the young farmers’ prime sheep.

Well known Orkney pedigree breeder Terry Coghill, of Muce, Birsay, will be tapping out the pedigree cattle classes.

Once again the Classic will be sponsored by chartered accountants and business advisors Johnston Carmichael and Robin Dandie, the firm’s head of agriculture, said they were delighted to continue their support of the event.

Mr Dandie added: “The Christmas Classic showcases the outstanding quality of Scotland’s livestock. The young farmers’ competition also encourages the development of the next generation to get involved which is essential for any industry.

“The good weather over the summer was gladly received by the farming industry and certainly improved crop yields for most compared to last year although the long winter of 2012/13 will be reflected in accounts prepared for 2012 and 2013 year ends in many cases.”

John Gregor, the general manager of Aberdeen & Northern Marts said: “The Classic has built up an unrivalled reputation over the last 21-years, drawing in the best of exhibitors with their livestock ending up in leading butchers and restaurants around the country.”

The full judges’ line-up is:

Open Haltered Beef Cattle – Gary Raeburn, Forbes Raeburn, Huntly & Alan Healy, Aubrey Allen, Coventry.

Butchers Cattle – Gary Raeburn & Alan Healy.

Young Farmers’ Haltered Beef Cattle – James Nisbet, Sorn Mains, East Ayrshire.

Young Farmers’ Unhaltered Beef Cattle –James Nisbet.

Open Unhaltered Beef Cattle – Michael Wilson, Woodhead Brothers, Turriff and Graham Collie, Butcher, St Bryde’s Road, Kemnay.

Prime Sheep – Andrew Atkinson, Croft House, Harrogate.

Young Farmers’ Prime Sheep – Michael Wilson.

Pedigree Cattle – Terry Coghill, Muce, Birsay, Orkney.

Pedigree Texel Females – Gordon Gray, Sunny Croft, Lindean, Selkirk.

Pedigree Suffolk Females – James Innes Jnr, Dunscroft, Huntly.

Pedigree Charollais Females – Wendy Willox, Home Farm, Druminoir, Rhynie.

Pedigree Beltex Females –Murray Munro, Runachloie, Gruids, Lairg.

Cast sows – Paul Cheale, Orchard Farm, Little Warley, Brentwood.