IN what is considered a first, an independent, family-run butcher bought the supreme champion beef animal at three of the UK’s principal Christmas primestock shows – LiveScot, the English Winter Fair and the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

As well as that, he bought the champion bullock from the East of England Smithfield Festival, but the Scottish-bred LiveScot champion has emerged as the best of the lot when butchered. 

Anthony Kitson, of Kitsons and Sons Butchers, North Yorkshire and Cleveland, bought the four beasts with a view to serve to customers for the 2016 Christmas period, but later decided to retain them for the Valentine’s Day trade. 

When viewed together on the hoof, Mr Kitson said he favoured the Welsh champion, but that all changed when it came to the cutting edge.

Mr Kitson recently hosted a visit from LiveScot champion exhibitor, Wilson Peters, from Monzie, Crieff, and English Winter Fair champion exhibitor, James May, of Bromsgrove, as well as officials from both organisations. Following a tour of his Northallerton shop, the party headed to JA Jewitt Meats’ abattoir at Middlestone Moor, Spenymoor, where the four carcases were inspected. Armed with butcher’s knife, Mr Kitson then cut into all the carcases and all agreed that they were first-rate. 

The group, joined by Jewitt’s Michael Jewitt, then compared notes to choose their own overall ‘Great British beef’ champion, awarding the crown to the LiveScot victor – a Charolais cross heifer, named Honey Dime, that was snapped up by Kitsons for £4900 – closely followed by the Smithfield, English and Welsh champions.

“To be fair, there wasn’t a lot in it, but when I put the knife through them we all concurred that the Scottish title winner just got the nod because of the colour, lushness and richness of the flesh. Coupled with that, was the flecking of the fat, desirability and saleability of the meat, which is the single most important factor as far as we are concerned. It just made you want to eat it,” explained Mr Kitson.

All four champions are now being fully matured to ensure the meat – roasts, steaks and all the other popular cuts – is in perfect eating condition ahead of going on sale for the Valentine’s Day trade at Kitson and Sons Butchers’ shops, in High Street, Northallerton, Stephenson Way, Stockton-on-Tees, and North End, Hutton Rudby.