Farming, livestock and equine

From big beast farm machinery and some of the largest cattle in the land to rare breeds and world class show-jumping, the Royal Norfolk Show’s farming, livestock and equine programme will be packed as ever.

Plus, The Queen’s Prize Perpetual Challenge Trophy presented on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is awarded to a different section at the Royal Norfolk Show each year and is on a 7 year rotation through the following sections: Beef Cattle, Heavy Horses, Sheep, Pigs, Goats, Dairy Cattle and Light Horses.  This year the winner of this prestigous award will be from the Heavy Horse section.


The Royal Norfolk Show has over 200 equine classes; 125 Light Horse classes, 54 Heavy Horse classes, 8 Show Jumping competitions including the exciting Ride and Drive and the prestigious International Stairway, 13 Private Driving classes including Donkey driving, Exercise Vehicle and Whip classes. Also 2 fast paced Scurry competitions to be held in the Grand Ring. There are 3 major Championships: The Horse of the Year Show Cuddy Supreme In Hand Championship, The RNAA Supreme In Hand Championship sponsored by the Stuart Group and the RNAA Supreme Ridden Championship to win the Jack the Giant Trophy.

There are over 50 other Championship classes and over 40 Special classes run throughout the Equine sections. Enormously popular  Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers attract competitors from across the country and alongside qualifiers for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS), place The Royal Norfolk show at the forefront of the showing calendar.

Heavy Horses are also hugely popular with classes for all four main breeds including Shire, Suffolk, Clydesdale and Percheron.


Cattle of all shapes, sizes, colours and breeds from numerous counties and countries of origin will be judged in the cattle rings this year. Approximately 800 cattle in 18 breed sections will be judged by top-quality judges from around the country. It’s an exciting display for every visitor. As usual, there are many opportunities for exhibitors to gain points through qualifiers held at the Royal Norfolk Show.

A major highlight for the show this year is the hosting of the Dexter Cattle Society National Show.

The Dexter breed is the smallest British breed of cattle. It is a dual-purpose breed, with the average weight of a cow being some 300 – 350 Kg’s and standing 92cm – 107cm at the shoulder. There are two recognized types, short legged and non-short, both of which have their equal merits. The breed comes in three colours, predominately black, but also red and dun. The Dexter breed originated in Ireland, they are hardy, dual-purpose cattle, producing excellent beef and milk, an ideal suckler cow for conservation grazing.

NEW for 2018 is The Heygates Country Feeds Team of Five competition which will be judged in the Grand Ring on Wednesday.  The team will be selected by the breed judge and must consist of five animals and include at least one male and one female.   This competition is truly a battle of the breeds and will feature over 70 beef cattle in the Grand Ring.

The Beef Interbreed classes are on Thursday morning. The judge will decide who from the previous day’s judging should be crowned Native and Continental, Male and Female, and overall Supreme Beef Champion.  In the dairy rings, during the Dairy Interbreed Championship, the judge will decide the Champion Female, Champion Pair and Group Champion Dairy Champions.

Also on Thursday following hours of training, washing, grooming and getting to know their animals, the Young Handlers stock-handling skills are put to the test as they strive to become Champion Young Handler of their section. The beef young handlers classes, once again, are qualifiers for the Winter Stock Festival Young Stock Person of the Year. The calf classes will follow the young handlers, leading to the Championship Trophy sponsored by Chapelfield Veterinary Partnership.

To find out a little more on the people behind our livestock programme watch our show story on Izzi Rainey – a Norfolk-based farmer and textile designer. Her Highland, Elizabeth, won Highland Breed Champion at the Show last year.

The Show has an incredible array of pigs.  With nearly 170 pens of pigs across all 13 different breeds, there’s always plenty to see! The Wednesday breed classes will lead to the Supreme Championship, qualifiers for the BPA Pig and Young Pig of the Year Final and Interbreed Pairs all to be awarded on Thursday.

Piggy Tricks and  Young Handlers will also take place in the pig ring, behind the Food Hall. Don’t miss the opportunity to talk to exhibitors and learn more about these inquisitive and intelligent animals. Modern and traditional breeds will be penned for visitors to admire. Please note, entry into the pig building will be restricted during the judging time when pigs are being moved around.

The sheep rings will provide a full timetable of enjoyment and talent, as over 900 sheep will be judged over the course of two days. Experienced judges will select top-quality livestock as champions for each of the 18 breed sections. The judge’s chosen champions from each breed section will be sent forward for the Thursday championships.

Butchers Lambs will be pen-judged in dedicated Butchers Lambs areas so the public can get a closer look. There’s plenty more to see too, as you wander around the different breeds after judging has finished.

The Thursday timetable begins with the Supreme Championship, followed by the Interbreed Pairs, Eastern Regional National Sheep Association Competitions, Trimmed Championship and Wool on the Hoof Classes. The remarkably talented Young Handlers will then take to the ring, competing in qualifiers for the RBST Young Shepherd and Winter Stock Festival Young Stock Person of the Year competitions.


On top of the formal sheep judging, showgoers can also watch the unique Sheep Show! Appearing at over 100 shows a year and in front of an estimated audience of 2.5 million people, this unique show has captured the hearts of many.

The New Zealand style team of presenters educate and entertain with their fantastic sheep all over the country. ‘Nobby’ the Norfolk Horn stands centre stage while others are introduced to their podiums. We learn about each breed’s attributes and how wool from the sheep’s back becomes a jumper to wear. The shearing demonstration is well commentated and has the audience captivated.

The 30 minute show is cleverly devised and is highly entertaining and extremely informative, a rare combination. The highlight of the show is the “The sheep show Hustle – Dancing sheep!!

Sheep Show (both days)






Learn about the skill of sheep shearing and join Paul Seabrook, with commentary by Philip Eagle, as they give us some sheep shearing demonstrations in time for summer.

In the UK we shear sheep for wool as a commercial product and for animal welfare. Shearing reduces the chance of sheep getting over hot in the summer as well as helping to prevent other health issues.

Sheep Shearing (both days)







The extremely popular Dairy Goats will be on show throughout both Show days in their back-to-back Shows. Nine different breeds will be judged in the ring, all aiming for the Championship title and various British Goat Society breed challenge certificates and cups. Goatling and Kid classes will also take place, offering exhibitors the chance to display the off-spring of their show stock. The Goat marquee is a friendly place to be, with lots of interesting goat facts, activity sheets and quizzes, and you can even meet and pet the kids or take part in the young handlers master-class.

Many different breeds of rabbits, cavies, ducks, chickens, turkeys and up to 1,000 eggs can be viewed in this highly popular marquee. Judges from all over the country will be examining the entries which range from Pet Juvenile classes up to the Best of Breeds. Championship Rosettes & Diplomas awarded by the British Rabbit Council will be on offer, together with many poultry rosettes from supporting clubs. This year, there is a large emphasis on education in the small livestock tent. Take the opportunity to see the life cycle of a rabbit, including meeting a rabbit in a showing class, along with a range of information about the Norfolk Grey chicken, a local breed of poultry.


Mr Mawkin’s Farm is the place to head to if you want to see a wide variety of breeds all in one dedicated space. Mr Mawkin is our friendly scarecrow. Catch him strolling around the farm near the sheep rings, and pop in to see more than 30 different breeds of livestock from his farm, including cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, as well as his rare breed turkeys, fascinating ducks, and rare breeds of poultry.  Visitors can get up close and learn about the many diverse breeds from all corners of Great Britain and beyond. Many of the animals are rare and native breeds that feature on the Watchlist of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Meet some of the rarest sheep, including our very own Norfolk Horns, and watch the baby piglets with their mother.

Visitors will be able to enjoy demonstrations and talks about some of the many diverse breeds in our display ring, join in the interactive, rare and extraordinary livestock demonstrations.

Throughout the two days the Sheep Beauty Parade will provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about a diverse range of sheep breeds. Spectators are invited in to the ring to meet and greet the sheep.

We will be shearing a sheep at the start of each show day and this raw, fresh fleece will be on display during the day. Spinners will be demonstrating their skills working with this freshly shorn fleece. Again, visitors are welcome to ‘have a go’ if they wish. The Wall of Wool will be on display – we are gathering together skeins of fibre from every breed of UK sheep, that’s more than 60 individual and unique breeds.

Our craft table will invite youngsters to make their own rare breed using a range of materials provided and a Name the Calf competition will take place throughout the Show.

Mr Mawkin’s Farm is the perfect place to see some of Norfolk’s best loved livestock, big and small. Keep an eye out for the old fashioned Norfolk Shepherd’s Hut nearby, linger over lunchtime to listen to Mr Mawkin’s very own story written especially for this year’s Show, and grab the chance to have your photograph taken in our new ‘capture the moment’ cut-out photo board!