This week Matt and Julia get amongst thousands of sheep, cattle, pigs, horses and farmers at the biggest event in the Welsh agricultural calendar, The Royal Welsh show in Builth Wells, Powys. In the current economic climate can the show continue to attract increasing numbers of visitors?
With the Royal Show finally coming to an end a few weeks ago, Julia tries to find out why some agricultural shows are dying out and others, like the Royal Welsh, are going from strength to strength. She discovers how the show’s unique fundraising system has helped the Royal Welsh through some tough times.
A life of livestock
The showing of livestock is at the heart of the Royal Welsh Show. With nearly 3,000 sheep, around 3,500 horses and ponies and record numbers of pigs, is plenty of competition. For the winners the reward goes far beyond a rosette or cup because when it comes to selling stock, a champion will attract a premium. Matt follows a family who have been showing their animals for generations.
The Welsh Cob will always be associated with the Principality and this little horse is a great favourite at the show. Renowned for its gentle temperament, it has been a favourite with riders and breeders since it was originally put to work on the land. Julia meets last year’s champion Cob and finds out what potential horse owners should know, before investing.
New research from the Royal Agricultural Society of England claims that 60,000 new vacancies will need to be filled in the next decade. With unemployment rising and other industries having more money to attract the best graduates and school-leavers, how can UK agriculture compete? Matt takes two students around the show to see for themselves what working on the land has to offer.
The Royal Welsh Show is a great place to experience rural and outdoor activities, Julia takes on Matt at the fine art of duck herding.
John Craven Investigates: Invaders
How we deal with many of our non-native species such as grey squirrels is a cause for much debate. Conservationists claim they’re damaging our countryside and have to be controlled, but animal rights campaigners say it’s unfair to choose one animal over another. However, one thing is for certain non-native species didn’t get here by accident. We introduced them. But if we’ve messed around with nature once, should we be doing it again?
It’s coming to the end of the shearing season on Adam’s Cotswold farm. This week he takes the opportunity to find a better outlet for his wool. After dropping some fleeces off with a local spinner and weaver, he heads for a Cornwall woollen mill that specialises in rare breed wool with some samples of his fleeces.
Grow your own food
In the UK we currently produce around 60 per cent of the food we eat. The rest has to be imported. With a growing world population, competition for land – and climate change bringing extreme weather conditions – food could soon be in short supply and cost a lot more. The argument for growing your own food has never been stronger. Countryfile’s plant expert James Wong goes in search of alternative ways to grow your own, especially if you live in an urban setting with limited space.