This article originally appeared on TheLand.com.au
Reduced exhibitor fees and auditing practices helped the Royal Canberra Show cattle committee attract new competitors and increase entry numbers in some stud breeds as the event looks to reestablish itself in the current showing era.
At least 10 individual breeds saw a rise in exhibits during judging last week, which was also boosted by the return of competitors in the Saler, Santa Gerturdis, Lincoln Red and Highland rings.
Angus rose from 14 entries in 2019 to 30 exhibits this year, Australian Lowlines almost doubled from 13 to 25, Ausline and Simmental were boosted by one each while the Poll Herefords rose from six to 18 entries.
Chief cattle steward Peter Frater said four or five years ago the show attracted an average 450 to 500 cattle.
While seasons had impacted entries, the committee wanted to question some of their traditional systems dating back 40 years and elevate the show to meet 2020 expectations.
This included reducing camping and entry fees, auditing a single random exhibit from each competitor rather than all animals, and offering voluntary, not compulsory, weighing of stud exhibits.
Talks are already underway for 2021 adaptations including developing the school and junior program, seeking additional sponsorship and growing the Cattle Experience showcase.
Other committee members have expressed interest in attracting a dairy heifer showing too.
Mr Frater, who is joined by cattle committee members Allan Chesworth, Stuart Glover, David McPhie, Tony Starr and Daryl Holder, said the society wanted to support exhibitors battling drought and took this into consideration when reviewing financial components.
“We have got some new people on the committee but we are also taking a lot of feedback from the exhibitors…we take what people are saying to us and are having a think about why we are doing it and asking some of those questions,” he said.
Poll Hereford exhibitor Ken Ikin from Bannister won his breed’s supreme exhibit title for a fifth year but the rise in exhibits made the win more significant.
“Canberra Show is looking after the exhibitors now more than before and I congratulate them on some of their incentives to make this happen because it’s the only royal show in southern NSW so it should have some importance,” he said.
It was a different story in the sheep section. While entries for the dual purpose and British breeds were on par with recent years, there wasn’t a single Merino.
Section head and RNACS councilor Broni Jekyll said it was unfortunate there wasn’t any entries from Merino breeders, a section which had attracted solid competition in the past.
“Our overall numbers were up due to the increase in entries in the Black and Coloured classes which were the feature breed,” Ms Jekyll said when accepting Merino the lack of Merino entries could have been affected by recent seasonal conditions.
“I was very pleased to see the increase in Black and Coloured entries including three from Victoria but perhaps drought, fire and flood affected Merino breeders more than we thought.
“They have had the Great Southern Supreme Show a few weeks ago and with Sydney Show in a couple of weeks perhaps they needed a break this year and our show had to give.”