LIVESTOCK will take centre stage at this year’s Royal Highland Show – and that’s the way it’s going to stay, according to the organisers, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

Widely held to be the UK’s premier agricultural show in terms of stock quality, the show runs from June 21-24 at the Royal Highland Showground and there will be thousands of animals competing for a chance to have that prestigious ‘Highland’ rosette pinned to their halter.

Royal Highland Show manager, David Jackson, said: “The Highland continues to be the leading event for showcasing the best the livestock industry has to offer and it is extremely rewarding that the industry continues to recognise its importance as a platform for the sector.

“We continue to see strong entries with increasing numbers in many classes, especially in the commercial classes and I know we will see some fierce competition for a winning place.

“As an event, we grow year on year and attract new audiences as we widen the appeal for visitors from town and country. Yet, we remain true to our roots as an agricultural show and work hard to be truly relevant to all aspects of farming and rural life.

“The team look forward to welcoming all our exhibitors, from the Scottish islands to South-west England to Northern Ireland. They are dedicated to their craft and I am extremely grateful for their continued support and wish them all the best of luck.”

There will be more than 5000 entries for all sections of the show and the Highland Hall will be at maximum capacity housing 1100 head of beef and dairy cattle.

Commercial cattle will have their highest number in a decade, standing with 93 animals, up 25% on the year and almost eclipsing the pure-bred entries led by 104 Shorthorns, 16 more than in 2017.

The Simmentals are hot on their heels with 103 entries, a 10-year record and an increase from 85 in 2017, while the Charolais breed also sees a resurgence with a jump to 76, from 61 last year.

Times might be hard in the dairy sector, but numbers total 109 entries – and this year the added spice is it’s this section’s turn to award the highly sought after Queen’s Cup.

The largest section is the Ayrshires with 38 – up from 29 in 2017; Holsteins hit 29 entries and Dairy Shorthorns have more than doubled to 25.

There’s a veritable flock in the sheep lines, where entries have hit more than 2000 head – the second largest catalogue for more than a decade.

Texels take top billing with 182 entries and their rivals, the Beltex, are not far behind on 177. Elsewhere, the Suffolk has its highest number in 10 years with 110 entries (90 in 2017), while Ryelands and the British Rouges also see record numbers for the last decade, with 82 and 39 entries, respectively – up from 65 and 34 in 2017.

Commercial sheep entries are also seeing increasing interest with 104 entries, up from 85 in 2017. The North of England Mule section was introduced in 2011 and it has its biggest show yet with 69.

Encouragingly for the show’s organisers, the young handler competition has 56 entries – and that's especially important given that this is the ‘Year of Young People’ in Scotland and that the show's organisers are committed to supporting that initiative.

There’s also more interest in goat classes, which have hit a 10-year high of 39, with six goat young handlers entered.

For equine enthusiasts, there are 1665 entries in the book in the light horse section, with the HOYS qualifying Mountain and Moorland under saddle section again dominating with 197 entries – up from 192 in 2017.

The heavy horses remain a strong presence with 392 entries, led by Highland females on 94 entries, and Shetland females on 84.