Udderly out of order - underhand exhibitors agree not to return to Great Yorkshire Show

The Northern Echo: Some untampered cow's udders pictured yesterday Some untampered cow's udders pictured yesterday

A NINE month investigation into an udder tampering scandal at the Great Yorkshire Show has resulted in the exhibitors involved agreeing not to show again.

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society launched an inquiry after two cases of suspected udder tampering were uncovered by vets among entries in the dairy cattle classes at last year's show.

Organisers - who warn they will not put up with such underhand tactics - have declined to go into the exact details of the udder tampering or reveal where the exhibitors are from.

However, methods of making cattle look better for the judges include pumping up udders with liquid or gas and sealing the teats or painting them.

"By mutual consent, they will not be exhibiting at any future Great Yorkshire Shows," said Nigel Pulling, the show's chief executive. "The exhibitors concerned have withdrawn their appeals."

Bill Cowing, honorary show director, issued a stark warning to this year's exhibitors that such underhand tactics will not be tolerated.

"For a number of years here at the Great Yorkshire Show we have carried out random scanning of animals and this will continue. Any suspicion of contravention will be investigated.

"Our industry is too precious to be undermined by those whose intention is to win at any cost, and with no concern for animal welfare. We are delighted to have the support of the breed societies."

A huge part of judging dairy cattle at the shows involves the size, shape and appearance of the udders.

There have been concerns for sometime that unscrupulous exhibitors have been tampering with udders in a bid to register a win.

A big win at a major agricultural show can increase the value of an animal and its offspring by thousands.

A champion dairy cow can bring up to £10,000 to £20,000, with breed records for exceptional animals between £70,000 to £80,000.

A rosette at the Great Yorkshire show, regarded as England's leading event, is a major boost for any breeder.

John Edge, Chairman of Holstein UK, one of the major cattle breeding societies said: "We hope this is an isolated incident, we don't want this to escalate in any way.

"This has highlighted the issue and hopefully nipped it in the bud. We expect all exhibitors to abide by the rules and regulations, they are there to safeguard the animals welfare."


Other examples of animal tampering at shows

  • Hair glued to the backs of animals to give an impression of a straight spine
  • Giving animals, particularly chickens, diuretics so they lose water and gain muscle tone
  • Dosing rival exhibitors with sedatives to make them lethargic
  • Anabolic steroids given  to horses, cattle or sheep  to enhance muscles
  • Bleaching skin, particularly pigs, to enhance appearance

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