By Debbie James

New livestock movement charges are being blamed for a sharp fall in livestock entries at this year’s Welsh Dairy Show.

A total of 120 animals competed in the event at the showground in Carmarthen compared to a peak entry of more than 300.

Lynn Davies, former chairman of the show’s organising committee, believed the new requirement for farmers to have quarantine units (QUs) to control disease spread was a principle reason why competitors were put off.

QUs were launched on September 11 and are now used to manage livestock movements, offering farmers an alternative to the six-day standstill rule introduced in the wake of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

But the cost of obtaining approval and maintaining quarantine units is proving prohibitive to some exhibitors.

A case in point was the absence of dairy shorthorns at the Welsh Dairy Show. Eluned Davies, who runs the Elkington dairy shorthorn herd at St Clears, did not put any animals forward because she is competing at another show and does not have a QU.

“We couldn’t even bring a calf here for my grandson to lead,’’ said Mrs Davies.

But despite diminished entries the quality of livestock was exceptional and some classes drew large entries, notably the Jersey section.

“The Jersey breed has become very popular in South Wales and that is evident by the numbers at this show,’’ said Lynn Davies.