A MAJOR new show will be launched this summer at the Royal Three Counties.

It’s the first major development to be headed by the Three Counties new head of shows, Diana Walton, and will allow breeders of junior dairy cattle to showcase their herd’s potential at the event to fellow breeders and dairy enthusiasts.

The new National Junior Dairy Show will feature classes for all the major dairy breeds.

Diana, who took over as head of shows from Doreen Smillie in December, said it’s hoped people will be welcomed who may not have been on the mainstream, dairy showing circuit.

“We hope to make it more accessible to exhibit a younger animal of show class,” said Diana, who is aware of the costs and restrictions of bringing milking cows to the Malvern showground.

“This will encourage new exhibitors without significant cost implications to them,” she said.

Diana said it’s the first major development at what is one of the key events in the calendar for the Three Counties since she began her new job, adding, however: “I can’t say I’m responsible for it. We have some great committee members and I’m very happy to be facilitating their wishes.”

Chief dairy steward at the show, Maurice Hart, said he believes the new dairy section will capture the imagination of dairy producers and allow them to showcase their herd’s future potential to prospective buyers across the country.

Maurice, who said entries will be restricted to calves and first milking heifers, added: “Dairy farming has been through a tough few years with low milk prices, but the enthusiasm and optimism shown by those breeding and milking top quality cows has never waned.

“However, we at Royal Three Counties Show recognise that showing in-milk cows can be a costly exercise and hope these classes for mainly non-milking animals will encourage dairy farmers to exhibit at Royal Three Counties Show, one of England’s largest livestock shows.”

Judging the new dairy classes will be Evesham-based Steven Miller, who will adjudicate in five classes in each breed as well as place the dairy young handler classes. All dairy judging will take place on the second day of the show, Saturday, June 17.

Diana has been involved with the show all her life and attended when her father was exhibiting.

Her uncle, Lyn Downes, was CEO for 20 years.

“I have a long family connection. I came back and worked here eight years ago as part of the livestock section team. I worked for part of seven show seasons and after a small gap I was asked if I would like to be head of shows. I did a year as Doreen’s assistant then started my new role in December,” said Diana, whose son Jack is the well-known young Three Counties blogger.

So she is well-placed to also head a number of new developments.

As well as the National Junior Dairy Show, this year the Royal Three Counties, which runs from Friday, June 16 to Sunday 18, will see a new Ask the Farmer area.

“This is to make it easier for members of the public who come to the show and may not be comfortable going into the livestock lines but who want to ask more about keeping livestock,” said Diana.

Ask the Farmer is being run in partnership with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) on the edge of the farming village, where also, to celebrate Gloucestershire being this year’s host county, some of the county’s native livestock breeds will also be showcased, including Gloucester cattle, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, Cotswold sheep and several chickens and turkeys, pending the lifting of bird flu restrictions.

And one of Gloucestershire most famous farmers, Adam Henson, the Countryfile presenter and owner of Cotswold Farm Park, will be giving a talk.

Diana could also reveal that Adam will be one of a number of celebrities, who will be confirmed in the coming months, talking to audiences in a new outdoor theatre area.

“This will be one of the main new features for this year. Adam will be going in and there are a few others up my sleeve,” she said.

The Royal Three Counties will host a number of national shows for cattle and sheep breeders, including the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society’s Summer National Show.

The Royal Three Counties will be the only English show to host the Angus World Forum, which last visited England 40 years ago.

It will also host national shows for the Simmental, Blonde, Murray Grey and Gloucester cattle Societies and the Beltex and Wiltshire Horn sheep societies and will be the feature show for the Southern and Midland Highland Cattle Club.

This year the show will only accept cattle entries on the condition that cattle are pre-movement tested before arriving at the show. “Last year we were able to gain an exemption for cattle from the low risk area, but that isn’t possible this year and in-line with best practice and to offer all exhibitors the same opportunity to exhibit we have decided to enforce pre-movement testing on all cattle coming to the show.

“With TB still causing hardship for many farmers it is important everyone in the industry works together to limit its spread at every opportunity. Pre-movement testing is best practice in this regard and will help safeguard all exhibitors,” explained Diana.

The Royal Three Counties Show is an agricultural and equine show at its heart bringing a large number of farmers through the gates to see the best of British livestock and the latest machinery on offer from local dealers.

Diana added: “The show has a good following, good supporters and vibes and is continuing to build on the success of the last few years.”