Guernsey and Jersey breeders from across the Westcountry and beyond will be gathering in Somerset next month when the Dairy Show returns. The English Guernsey Cattle Society and Jersey Cattle Society of the UK will both be hosting their prestigious national shows at the leading sector specific event on Wednesday, October 5.
Exhibitors and visitors alike will be treated to a showcase of some of the UK’s finest Channel Island talent at the Royal Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, all judged under the eyes of domestic and internationally renowned judges; Duncan Hunter and Lynden Bustard.
The Jerseys will fall under the inspection of Herefordshire-based Mr Hunter, while the Guernseys will be looking for a tap out from Devon-based Mr Bustard.
For Mr Hunter, a life in the showring encompasses experiences of being both judge and judged – the latter undertaken with his commended Haresfoot Ayrshire herd which was dispersed in 2011. Prior to this he took supreme interbreed champion at the Dairy Show in 2010 with Simply Red Pamela.
His résumé in dairy cattle spans, collectively, over 50 years: Some 30 years of experience in dairy cattle breeding and upwards of 20 years judging across the UK and overseas, taking in Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Australia, and South Africa.
One of his biggest accolades to the Jersey breed was on the Channel Island itself. “I was very honoured to be asked to judge the Jerseys at the Royal Jersey Agricultural Show in 2017,” he says. “So to be invited to judge the Jersey Cattle Society’s national show at this year’s Dairy Show is a privilege.
“I appreciate all breeds, but I particularly like the functional structure of the Jersey. They are smaller but have the ability to very efficiently convert forage into milk with high constituents, which makes for a versatile commodity.”
So what will catch his eye? “I’ll be looking for excellent functional traits and overall balance,” he explains. “She needs a well attached udder; strong attachment in the fore and high and wide in the rear. I want to see straight, free movement in locomotion. The whole cow needs to fit together well with her correctness indicative of her potential to milk well for a good number of years.”
The senior cow class is a favourite for Mr Hunter: “Because what you see is what you’ve got. She’s matured and generally proven herself – but it still all comes down to functional traits.”
Hailing from a dairying family in Ontario, Canada, Lynden Bustard is a seasoned dairy cattle judge with over 25 years under his belt. His sharp eye has seen him show and judge successfully and extensively across Canada, the US, South America, the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Europe.
Leaving the family farm – and its herd of pedigree Holstein and Jersey cattle – he arrived in the UK in 1986 where he took on work preparing cattle for show. Circa 1995 he jointly started a breeding services company before becoming a classifier at Holstein UK.
The last time Guernseys were at the Bath & West Showground the breed was well represented, with Richard Norton and Polly Whetham’s Je-taime Double L Bijou 2 standing interbreed dairy champion at this year’s Royal Bath & West Show.
Mr Bustard says: “The coloured breeds are well represented in the South West so I am in no doubt that the best will be in attendance.”
So how can a class act catch his eye? “The breed gives a lot of milk with good levels of butterfat and protein. Cows need good functional udders to support their levels of production; and I will want to see them well attached with good teat placement. I’ll be looking for a correct rump, good width of chest and depth of body – and I want to see a presence in the ring.”
Mr Bustard is also looking forward to seeing old and new faces. “It’ll be a great opportunity to meet up with people I don’t often see – and it’ll be great to see some new faces too.”
Entries for all classes at the Dairy Show will be closing on Tuesday, September 20. To enter, please visit the website.