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Pigs return at British annual show

Live pig classes are being reintroduced to the annual National Primestock Show and Sale in Great Britain after a break of about 20 years.

The show - previously the Birmingham Fatstock Show and now held at Bingley Hall, Stafford County Showground - will see up to 60 pens of live pigs competing alongside up to 400 prime cattle and 100 pens of sheep on the weekend of November 18-19.

The return of pigs has been encouraged by pig breeders on the show's committee with the support of the British Pig Association (BPA).

Marcus Bates, BPA chief executive, says the return comes at a convenient moment. "Since 2002 over 1,000 new specialist pig breeders have emerged and the reintroduction of live classes presents a fantastic return to the winter show scene."

Classes will be split into modern (Large White, Landrace, Duroc and Welsh) and traditional breeds.

Interest in keeping pedigree and traditional breeds is growing. In 2006 exports of breeding stock from UK breeders is expected to top €15 million, says the British Pig Executive (BPEX).

BPEX says Russian and Chinese buyers are particularly strong customers, but interest from Japan, South Korea, Hungary, Germany and the Phillippines is growing.

For those looking to retail pork the aim is to find profitable outlets, Bates says. "We hope by reintroducing live pig classes to the Primestock we can begin to restore the contact and relationship between producers and specialist retail butchers and caterers."

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