THIS year’s flagship dairy showcase in Carlisle went ahead despite the nervousness surrounding the coronavirus crisis.

Although numbers were down about 50 percent on previous years, exhibitors and spectators gathered at the ninth Borderway UK Dairy Expo 2020, organised by Harrison & Hetherington at their Rosehill Exhibition Hall.

The lower footfall didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and atmosphere on the day and the judges were astounded at the sheer quality of livestock on display.

Champion of Champions was Wiltor Silver Centrepiece, a phenomenal four-year-old Holstein cow, owned by Nick and Louisa Sercombe from Knaptoft Farm near Leicester. Picking up the ‘People’s Choice Award’, a newly introduced element of the show for this year, was Dumfries breeder Hattie Hassall’s Brown Swiss Holdontoyourhats Bo Peep.

Commenting on the overall champion, Judge Yan Jacobs, who travelled from Canada, said: “I knew that this was going to be a show of quality livestock, but I was really surprised at how high-quality the stock was, it was phenomenal, and I was very impressed by the show overall.

“The Overall Grand Champion was an extremely well-balanced dairy cow, and I believe that she is the kind of cow everyone needs today, whether operating a traditional or robotic parlour. She was massive, she totally stood out and she can go everywhere.

“I thoroughly enjoyed judging such a prestigious event where everyone I met was extremely enthusiastic with a passion for what they do.”

Many were aware that this was most probably the last event of this type for many months and people were definitely making the most of it. Speaking afterwards, event organiser and Harrison & Hetherington joint managing director David Pritchard said: “Given the current situation with Covid-19, we knew that Borderway UK Dairy Expo would be a smaller affair this year.I am pleased to say that, despite this, we still experienced an extremely successful event, which proves that our decision to go ahead was the right one.

“I would like to thank all those attending, sponsors and judges for entering into the spirit of Borderway UK Dairy Expo regardless of the challenges, demonstrating that it continues to be seen as a key livestock event in the dairy calendar.”

It was also a day when the younger generation shone in the showmanship classes, under the watchful eye of judge Amy Miller, from Evesham.

Elliott Jackson (18), from Lancashire, picked up the championship, the reserve went to Will Horsley (22), from Cumbria, and the honourable mention was given to Rosie Dennison (18), also from Cumbria.

A new online voting approach for the People’s Choice Award, the brainchild of Heather Pritchard of H&H was one of the highlights of the show with around 3,000 entries through social media and voting on the day.

Jason Keen from Genus ABS, who sponsored the class, said: “Votes were received from all over the world thanks to the use of social media, and this is something that would not traditionally have happened. It was a great event for British Dairying and Genus ABS was delighted to be involved.”

The John Dennison Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented in memory of the highly regarded breeder of Denmire Holsteins, from Cumbria, was this year awarded to Blaise Tomlinson, owner of the pedigree Sandyford herd of Ayrshire cows in Loughborough.

Despite some exhibitors being unable to attend Ian Oliver, commercial manager for Carrs Billington, said: “Yes, the event was quiet compared to normal, I fully understand the reasons why and, unfortunately,it is a sign of where we are sitting at the moment. These are difficult times.”