Judges Announced for NBA Beef Expo

22nd December 2023

The National Commercial Cattle show held as part of the National Beef Association’s bi-annual spring flagship event attracts the highest quality cattle from across the UK, and it is for many one of the day’s highlights. Today, the NBA is delighted to announce that two expert judges have accepted the daunting challenge of separating the best from the very best in this fiercely contested competition being held at the North West Auctions Rural Auction Centre on Saturday, 27th April 2024.

Northamptonshire’s Frank Page has kindly agreed to judge the Native and Continental classes and the Supreme Championships, while Lincolnshire’s Jonathan Lyon will judge the Baby Beef classes, the Baby Championship and Young Handler classes.

The National Commercial Cattle Show will see in the region of 120 head of cattle compete in the 10 cattle classes for steers and heifers with the overall winner taking home the Supreme Championship title. To support, encourage and highlight the next generation of commercial breeders and farmers, this year the NBA is also inviting the stars of the future aged between 14- 21 to take part in the Young Handlers classes as part of the livestock section.

Frank Page farms a total of 830 acres near Elkington in Northamptonshire in partnership with his brother Dan and nephew Chris, who look after the arable side of the business. Frank, his wife Caroline and children George and Gabriella look after the livestock side.

The family’s cattle enterprise comprises 140 beef suckler cows, with Limousin x British Blue or British Blue x Limousin cows put to British Blue and Limousin Bulls. Heifers are kept to breed, and what is fattened regularly tops the prices at Rugby Farmers Mart. The farm also runs 320 ewes, all Suffolk x mules which go to Texel rams. 

Frank showed his first homebred animal when he was 12 and has been showing and winning ever since and earlier this month he won his 20th championship at Rugby Christmas Primestock Show with a homebred heifer. On the showing circuit with homebred cattle,  he has scooped Smithfield champion, a baby beef champion at the Welsh Winter Fair and a pedigree champion and 6 carcass champions at the English Winter Fair.

Numerous invitations to judge at the highest level have included the Welsh Winter Fair, the English Winter Fair and the National Limousin Show, and on being asked to judge at this year’s NBA Beef Expo, Frank commented: “It is a real honour to be invited to judge such a prestigious event and being a national show I am expecting to see some very high quality cattle.  We have tremendous livestock here in the UK and I am looking forward to seeing the cream of the crop. In terms of what I will be looking for, it will be well fleshed, stylish, correct cattle with good conformation.”

Jonathan Lyon knows exactly what it takes to compete and win at Beef Expo, having won at Malvern in 2013 with a home bred heifer and again at Shrewsbury in 2016, and coming one step away from the ultimate prize with a Reserve Champion at York.

Jonathan farms 320 acres near Bourne in Lincolnshire, first started by his father Trevor, alongside this they operate a landscape gardening business, Greatford Garden Services. The farm is home to 70 suckler cows and a flock of 140 ewes. The Limousin x and Belgium Blue x run with three pedigree Limousin and one Belgium Blue bulls, and the Lyons’ main aim is to produce show calves and top quality bulls.  Bulls are sold both on farm and throughout live auctions at Carlisle and breeding heifers sold through Kirkby Stephen and Hexham Auction Marts.

Like Frank Page, Jonathan has been showing cattle since a very young age and he has scooped several major awards in addition to his Beef Expo successes at NBA Beef Expo, winning with mostly homebred stock at the Royal Welsh, the Great Yorkshire three times, and at the English Winter Fair at Stafford on several occasions.

In judging the Baby Beef classes and the Baby Championship in April, he will be looking for, “An animal which catches your eye when it comes into the ring, with a wide, square stance and a very good top line, I’ll be looking for good depth in the hind quarter and whether it’s a calf or a bigger animal it needs to have a good, full loin.”

And although no stranger to the judging circuit, Jonathan is acutely aware of the standards expected from both entries and judges in this ultimate test of quality. “Beef Expo is a very, very good event and the National Commercial Cattle show is as difficult as it gets to win, so it’s an absolute  honour to be asked to judge. I have been coming since the event was initiated, and it will be a real pleasure to be on the other side of the competition fence this time. There is always a very high quality of stock and it is a challenge for anyone to get anywhere near winning it, so I will be taking my responsibilities very seriously indeed. “

NBA Chief Executive, Neil Shand, believes that such highly respected judges underline the national credibility of the Beef Expo event and its importance to the industry.  “British Beef is renowned throughout the globe and this event is a celebration of our wonderful industry and the people who are taking it forward into the future. The whole event provides a vital platform for discussion and debate through its seminars and trade show, and it gives farmers the opportunity to see first-hand the attributes of numerous breeds of cattle.

“The cattle classes are right at the heart of the event, showcasing the best of beef livestock and their breeders and handlers, and our two judges have the exceptional combination of expertise, knowledge and personal showing success that commands absolute respect for their decisions.”

National Beef Expo 2024 will be held at North West Auctions, J36, Rural Auction Centre, Kendal, on Saturday, 27th April 2024.