Charismatic and intelligent animals, pigs are a popular attraction at the Royal Bath & West Show, which runs from May 30 to June 2, but they are not the easiest animals to exhibit, as there are usually many pigs in the ring at the same time, and they can be headstrong.
Alan Lyons, head of shows, said: “Even so, the exhibitors always do a fantastic job and get the very best out of their animals, putting on a great show for visitors and ensuring strong competition.”
From traditional rare breeds to modern commercial stock, the Royal Bath & West Show attracts the best of the best, and to pick an overall winner requires an experienced and professional eye.
Judging the Interbreed Supreme Championship at this year’s show is Kevin Matthews, who has been showing pigs since he was about 13 years old. A builder by trade, he got his first Saddleback pig aged 10 after taking an interest in them, and his passion has grown from there.
Based at The Piggeries near Scarborough, Yorkshire, Kevin’s Lowpark herd has had a lot of success in the show ring. So much so that by the young age of 18 he was being asked to judge. One of his showing highlights was winning with a Large Black at the Bath & West Show.
“Winning there is everything to me. I had Large Blacks for my 21st birthday and I went on to win with them,” Kevin said.
In his showing career he has won at shows up and down the country and has never come away from the Bath & West without a trophy – and now he loves judging at the show. As a judge, he has also presided over the prestigious Pig of the Year competition in Yorkshire two years ago.
However, he has had to cut back his herd recently to accommodate for being so busy at work, and is just running three Saddlebacks, one Large Black and one British Lop sow.
“My dad does all the hard work now – he’s a brilliant stockman,” Kevin said.