Balmoral Show: Breeders split on whether four day event is good idea
Opinions were divided among cattle and sheep breeders on whether or not the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) should continue with a four day format at the Balmoral Show.
This was the first year the show was extended to Saturday.
"It is working for us," confirmed Co Down Blonde cattle breeder William McElroy.
"The extra day is giving me an opportunity to spend more time making contact with a wide range of pedigree and commercial herd owners," he said.
"Showing is one thing. At the end of the day, my business is all about selling the breeding animals that are coming through within the herd.
"Balmoral is a tremendous shop window for my cattle. So the extra day is a real bonus, in terms of it being a genuine networking opportunity."
There are 12 pedigree cows in McElroy's Ivaniskey herd. He had three animals entered for this year's Balmoral Show.
"We arrived on the Monday evening. The cow was selected as the Reserve Blonde Female Champion while the bull was placed third in the Junior Male Championship," he said.
McElroy was elected as chairman of the British Blonde Cattle Society in March of this year. He will serve a three-year term.
Moneymore commercial cattle breeder Robert Miller, however, believes the new four day format puts too much stress on both animals and their owners.
"I know that the RUAS is committed to the four day plan for another year.
"But the sooner we get back to the way it was the better," he said.
"Three days is long enough."
Texel sheep breeder Alaistair Gault agreed. He secured the Reserve Interbreed title at this year's show.
"The breed classes were judged on Wednesday, yet I had to wait until Saturday to take part in the Interbreed class. That gap is far too long," he said.
Sheep entries were down by around 5% at this year's show.
It is understood that the extra day may have put a number of breeders off the idea of attending the event.