VISITORS to the Royal Bath & West Show will have a chance to get up close to a wide range of livestock and learn all about where their food comes from. 

From top-class show animals to cuddly goats and lambs, the best of British livestock and their owners will be out in force, showcasing the breadth of the nation’s farming.

As well as the more public-facing elements, there will be top class competition, culminating in the prestigious supreme championships for pigs, sheep, beef and dairy cattle. 

Jim McMillan, a judge with an illustrious career, spanning Scotland, England and Wales, will be judging the interbreed cattle competition this year.

At home near Bury St Edmunds he keeps pedigree Simmentals and Charolais under the Brandane herd prefix. Additionally, he works for W&M Mash at Brockhurst Limousins. “I’ve always liked the Royal Bath and West - it’s a tremendous show,” he says. “I used to show there myself when I was based at the Boddington Estate near Cheltenham.” 

So what is it that makes a champion animal stand out? “I’m mainly looking for the correct breed characteristics in the cattle,” he explains. “They need to have good locomotion and legs. The females should be feminine and not too big. There should be a bit of style in the head and ears. They should be saying ‘look at me’!”

For younger visitors, Lakeside Farm will have tractors to play on, vintage machinery and stationary engines, as well as a goodie bag containing a food and farming workbook, puzzle and a toy. 

Their older compatriots might enjoy learning about goats, attending a wool washing and felting workshop, and a butchery demonstration. There will also be the popular sheep dancing show and Great British dogs featuring rare breeds like the Clumber Spaniel, Gordon Setter and Irish Water Spaniel. 

“We will have lots of farmers around to talk to, so you can ask any questions you like about farming, the countryside, the environment, and where food comes from,” says shows and education co-ordinator Lilanie Self. “There’s a nice quiet picnic area to escape the hustle and bustle of the show, and a petting farm with sheep, donkeys, alpacas, mini Shetlands, goats and lambs.

“Visitors can find out about careers in the agricultural sector, and support farm charities which focus on mental and physical wellbeing,” she adds. “The show brings together every element of farming and food, making it both fun and educational for young and old.”