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Sizing up the competition at the Dorset County Show

16 August 2017

The Dorchester Agricultural Society have begun the countdown to the Dorset County Show, taking place on Saturday September 2 and Sunday September 3.

With just three weeks left to go, excitement is mounting for the variety of family entertainment and attractions this year, as well as spectacular shows, stunts, and some of the best livestock from around the UK.

Helping draw an expected 60,000 visitors to the two day agricultural extravaganza held at the Dorchester Showground will be its pedigree participants.


With more than 1,000 exhibitors and competitors travelling from across the country to take part in the 176th annual event, the show animals and livestock favourites will be rising to the challenge to leave with a coveted red, white and blue rosette.

Will Hyde, Show Secretary said, “We are delighted to have such strong entries forward in all of our equine and livestock classes, more entries create a higher standard of competition and the public love having the opportunity to see these animals up close.”

With such a diverse range of competitive classes, four spectator rings, showjumping and countryside rings, there will be lots of opportunities for visitors to meet livestock breeds. Where size is no object, we take a closer look at some of the show’s entrants sure to please all guests.


The Kunekune are a New Zealand breed and the smallest domestic breed of pig in the world. Their name is pronounced ‘koo-nee koo-nee’, and means fat and round in Maori. A firm favourite among pet pig owners, their placid friendly nature and love of human company make them a popular attraction at the show.

Kunekune pig

The Oxford Sandy and Black is a rare traditional breed of pig. It is increasing in popularity from virtual extinction twenty years ago. Sometimes referred to as the “Plum Pudding or Oxford Forest Pig” it is one of the oldest British pig breeds. Its good nature and ease of management make it a favourite for owners.


The Valais Blacknose is an incredibly rare breed and hails from the mountains of the Valais region of Switzerland.  Commonly referred to as ‘the cutest sheep in the world’, due to their unique appearance and loving nature, it makes them highly prized by owners wanting an unusual pet sheep.

Valais Blacknose Sheep

Jacob sheep are a traditional British breed combining two characteristics unusual in sheep. It is piebald (dark-coloured with areas of white wool) and often multi-horned, giving it a similar resemblance to a goat.

As things heat up for the top-class livestock paraded in front of the judges, others will be given the chance to cool off during Sunday’s Piddle Brewery speed shearing competition. Contestants will showcase their grooming talents in a race against the clock to take top billing.


The cattle section see’s entries from all of the traditional showing breeds such as Herefords, British Blues and Devons all of whom will be judged on the Saturday, making way for the rare and minority breeds in the Sunday where we will see the likes of Longhorn and Riggit Galloway.


Another first for the Dorset County Show 2017 will be live milking demonstrations near the cattle ring. Featuring a purpose-built mini milking parlour and commentary from Tom Foot, dairy farmer at The Open Air Dairy, Tom also supplies the award winning cheese makers – Ford Farm who will be exhibiting within the food hall.

Heavy Horses

Heavy Horse classes were re-instated last year at the Dorset County Show with huge success, this year they continue to grow in popularity with Shire Horse and Clydesdale entries. The dedicated Heavy Horse ring will draw large crowds right at the heart of the Showground.

Along with sponsoring this year’s Heavy Horse Village, Palmers Brewery will be bringing their carefully restored Brewery Dray that dates back to 1885.

Will Hyde added: “Palmers Brewery has a long standing relationship with Dorset County Show, their beer is sold at a number of the bars on site so we were delighted when they wanted to sponsor the Heavy Horse section and even better that they wanted to show off a piece of Dorset history with their brewery dray.”

Sunday afternoon sees the return visit of internationally recognised gundog trainer and breeder, Neil Varney at the countryside field.  Offering expert training for visitors who wish to participate with their own dogs, he will also present exciting live demonstrations with his Twistmount Gundogs.

For more information, competition entry and to purchase tickets go to: or call 01305 264249.

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