Dennis Bridgeford is based near Easter Ross in Scotland’s Highland region and operates an indoor herd of 550 sows rearing lighter weight finishers of 75kg
There is no doubt one of the highlights in the farming year in Scotland is the four-day extravaganza that is the Royal Highland Show.
I admit I am slightly biased, having a long association with the show, starting way back as a young, enthusiastic ‘gopher’ with my father, showing Landrace pigs.
Sadly these days are long gone. Thinking back, the knowledge gained from exhibitors stood me in good stead – they were all a hardy bunch taking pride in their animals. The joy on their faces if they did well was fantastic. Of course, me being me, the ethos of ‘taking part’ was important, but I tell you what, winning was a hell of a lot better!
Records are made to be broken – the show had almost perfect weather, record crowds (195,000 plus over the four days) and a determination, in spite of the problems abounding, that we were going to enjoy ourselves. We had Scottish fayre of the highest order on the Thursday, pork, of course, with a small slice of beef and lamb, in the company of some of the pig industry makers and shakers.
There were some very serious discussions on the lack of action from the processors regarding price – well you can’t go away without getting stuck in and sorting the industry out!
They quote lack of home demand, which has to improve just by sheer economics. European prices are 15p/kg above ours so as their contracts run out we have to be more competitive, or are we the cannon fodder to keep the ‘peasants’ under control?!
As a volunteer at the show it was ‘full on’, so now that I am creeping on in years and with executive powers delegated to the next generation, a few days’ holiday was called for: whisper it, they managed fine without me. We travelled to Yorkshire to meet up with our good friends from Thirsk, John and Joan Ryder.
John, by his own admission, can be a ‘prickly Yorkshireman’ but that’s maybe why we get on so well. There was no way I could go without meeting up with some pig famers, although, sadly, in these days of biosecurity we chose a neutral venue, Thirsk Market, and we chewed the fat over a brilliant lunch.
So, 12 pig producers round a table with no hiding place, discussing problems – I can recommend it.
I came home cheered – even with the problems of geography we can still compete. Mind you, our main processors in Scotland will tell you differently!
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to congratulate the English Cricket team on their fantastic World Cup win, excitement at its best – and that comes from a proud Scot!