Scotland's youngest dairy enthusiasts had a cracking good day out at the Showcase for their first competitive day of showmanship in almost 16months, with entries and numbers forward more than double that of previous years, for one of the UK's most well known and respected judges, Claire Swale from Lancashire.

Just shy of 30 young handlers complete with more than 50 Holstein, red and white, Ayrshire and British Friesian calves were on show for Ms Swale who has not only judged numerous events in the UK but also throughout Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

"It is so important to let these young handlers out to show their calves as we have had 16 months without competing, when it could be so easy for them to be attracted towards other industries," said Ms Swale.

"Finding good staff to work on dairy farms is becoming increasingly difficult, so events like these are crucial for the future of our industry."

Backing up these statements, chief dairy steward Bryce Sloan said: "This is the biggest show of young handlers we've seen at Ingliston and for many of them, it's the first time they've competed here.

"There is a lovely buzz about the show and everyone seems to be enjoying being back out for the first time since March 2020. These events are so vital for our industry because it is all too easy to get out of the way of handling dairy calves and working on farms, when it is difficult enough to find good staff. Keeping these competitions going gives the young ones a reason to keep going with their dairy calves," said Bryce.

The standard of showmanship was also most impressive.

"The quality throughout all the classes has been really good. It's not been easy for these youngsters, but all credit to them, as the standard at the very top of the classes has been exceptional," said Ms Swale, who found her supreme champion showman in 25-year-old Neil Sloan, who works at Knowe Farm, Ochiltree, for George Templeton.

"Neil was in tune with his calf at all times and he showed her off to perfection."

A former champion at the Scottish Calf Show and Ayr Show in 2016, and reserve winner at the Borderway Expo in 2015, Neil also stood third in the All Britain Calf show in 2019. Last weekend's event, was however the first time he had competed at Ingliston.

"It's brilliant to be back to some sort of normality and showing cattle again. It's just great to get the buzz and excitement of being back in the ring and speaking to fellow breeders," said Neil.

Adding to the Showcase celebrations, Neil also went on to win the Holstein calf classes and the supreme overall calf with the same animal he was parading in the showmanship section. This was Blydale Chief Lynn, an ET-bred August 2020-born heifer calf bought privately when she was born from her breeder, Samuel Wake, and acquired at the end of April. She is by Stantons Chief and bred from the VG89 Blydale Lynn Fitz All, which in turn was bred from the Ex90 Eastside Lewisdale Angelena.

Ms Swale added: "I am a great believer in good feet and legs and this heifer has an impeccable set of feet and legs, with a hard top, deep rib and good open rump. She has been exceptional in every class and appears to be always on form."

Following Neil all the way to lift the reserve showmanship was the second prize winner in the same class, 23-year-old Alison Hunter, who now lives in Ayrshire with her partner Kevin Lawrie, Myremill. Another regular class winner, Alison was parading the similarly aged Arranview Doc Laurie Sheik.

Honourable mention was 16-year-old Mark Bryson, of the Carnduff herd from Dykehead, Lesmahagow, who was competing at the Ingliston event for the first time having previously won the Lanarkshire Calf Show and a second at the All Britain Calf Show.

Reserve supreme amongst the calves was a classy red and white from Brian Weatherup and son Brian's Parkend herd from Crossgates, Cowdenbeath, Fife. Parkend Dice Starlet, which first landed a red ticket in the junior section, is a six-month-old by the German sire, Dice Red and bred from Parkend Geordie Starlet which is a daughter of the former champion red and white here, Parkend Director Starlet Red Ex93. She was shown by Calum Gray.

There was more success for the Weatherups when Gillian's Pinupgirl Reeve Sangria Red, scooped the blue and white sash with Mark Bryson at the helm. This May 2020-born heifer is a daughter of Mr Stonefront Reeve Red, and bred from the 2019 champion red and white heifer, Pinupgirl Awesome Sangria VG88, which is also a daughter of the Parkend Director Starlet Red show cow.

Runner up amongst the black and whites calves was 24-year-old Andrew Struthers' Glenmuir Denver Elizabeth, shown by his younger sister, Emma, from Boylston, Cumnock. She is by Brenland Denver, out of Glenmuir RT Awesome Elizabeth 2 and traces back to the Ex94 Kanesbridge Talent Elizabeth.

Dairy showmanship

Judge: Clare Swale, Lancashire.

Champion – Neil Sloan.

Reserve – Alison Hunter.

Junior handler 5-12 years of age on January 1 of the current year – 1, Erica Gray; 2, John Caldwell; 3, Kyle Scott.

Intermediate handler 13-15 years of age on January 1 of the current year – 1, Rory Scott; 2, Ellis Caldwell; 3, Calum Gray.

Senior handler 16-20 years of age on January 1 of the current year – 1, Mark Bryson; 2, Sarah Wood; 3, Lynsey Brown.

Mature handler 21-27 years of age on January 1 of the current year – 1, Neil Sloan; 2, Alison Hunter; 3, David Howat.

Holstein dairy calf

Judge: Clare Swale, Lancashire.

Champion and overall – N Sloan (Blydale Chief Lynn).

Reserve – A Struthers (Glenmuir Denver Elizabeth).

Born between December 1 2020 and January 31 2021 – 1, A Struthers (Glenmuir Denver Elizabeth); 2, W and A Watson (Muir Sidekick Erle); 3, Parkend Farm (Lesmay Undenied Patent).

Born between October 1 and November 30 2020 – 1, K Lawrie (Arranview Unix Marie); 2, Parkend Farm (Parkend Fontaine Maude); 3, John Bryson and Son (Carnduff Raffaello Unwin).

Born between August 1 and September 30 2020 – 1, N Sloan (Blydale Chief Lynn); 2, John Bryson and Son (Adventure Unstopabull Sara).

Born between June 1 and July 31 2020 – 1, R and M Scott (Jones PC CM Crisp Lockdown); 2, Bryce Sloan (Townlaw Sidekick Petunia); 3, Bryce Sloan (Townlaw Lighthouse Treat).

Born between April 1 and May 31 2020 – 1, R and M Scott (Vetech Pepper Kim); 2, K Lawrie (Arranview Doorman Molli); 3, G and G Templeton (Knoweside Unstopabull Petrelle).

Coloured breed dairy calf

Judge: Clare Swale, Lancashire.

Champion and reserve overall calf – Parkend Farm (Parkend Dice Starlet Red).

Reserve – Parkend Farm (Pinupgirl Reeve Sangria Red).

Born between December 1 2020 and January 31 2021 – 1, Parkend Farm (Parkend Dice Starlet Red); 2, K Lawrie (Brieryside Rubicom Pear); 3, G and G Templeton (Knowe Rubicom Ella).

Born between October 1 and November 30 2020 – 1, North Cassingray (Lismulligan Aster 6).

Born between August 1 and September 30 2020 – 1, G and G Templeton (Knowe B-King Dainty Lass 2); 2, Parkend Farm (Pinupgirl Reeve Stockings Red); 3, R and M Scott (Nethervalley Rage Emma Red).

Born between June 1 and July 31 2020 – 1, North Cassingray (Lismulligan Priscilla 60); 2, A and S Lawrie (Cuthill Towers Focus Yoga).

Born between April 1 and May 31 2020 – 1, Parkend Farm (Pinupgirl Reeve Sangria Red); 2, A and S Lawrie (Cuthill Towers Happy Ray).