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After two decades, livestock market regular Geoff finally scoops top Christmas prime stock show award

PUBLISHED: 16:13 04 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:00 04 December 2018

From left, Geoff Freeman, judge John Coleman, and Lee Byam with Geoff Freeman's winning beast at Colchester Christmas Prime Stock Show Picture: STEVE WRIGHT

From left, Geoff Freeman, judge John Coleman, and Lee Byam with Geoff Freeman's winning beast at Colchester Christmas Prime Stock Show Picture: STEVE WRIGHT

Steve Wright/Stanfords

A delighted Suffolk farmer has scooped the top beef cattle award at Colchester Christmas livestock prime stock show for the first time.

Stanfords Christmas Livestock Show  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSStanfords Christmas Livestock Show Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Veteran beef cattle producer Geoff Freeman has been a loyal regular at Stanfords’ weekly livestock markets since Campsea Ashe market near Wickham Market closed around the mid-1990s.

But despite success at Campsea Ashe, Mr Freeman, of Poplar Farm, Bredfield, near Woodbridge, has always failed to clinch the overall champion award at Colchester - until now.

“It’s absolutely great - marvellous,” he said. “I have won it at Campsea Ashe in the past with my father, but not here.

“We breed all our own cattle. His mother was bred on the farm, and his grandmother was bred on the farm. All we buy in are sires.

Stanfords Christmas Livestock Show  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSStanfords Christmas Livestock Show Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

“We normally do the county shows, but this is the first show we have done this year because we were worried about TB.”

The mainly Limousin beast, crossed with Aberdeen Angus, is part of a herd of around 80 cows which Mr Freeman keeps at his 55 acre farm, which are grazed on around 300 acres of marshland. He works alongside another beef cattle farmer, Pauline Byam, who farms at nearby Swilland, and was at the auction with son, Lee Byam. The two farmers support each other, but run separate businesses. She took reserve champion with her beast and between them they made a clean sweep of the top awards.

Auctioneer Graham Ellis told a packed auction: “It’s a great, great achievement for them to be the champions here today.”

Butcher John Coleman, who judged the competition and also bought the winning animal at the auction afterwards, described it as “just a lovely animal”, and not too lean.

Lee Byam with Geoff Freeman's winning beast at Colchester Christmas Prime Stock Show Picture: STEVE WRIGHTLee Byam with Geoff Freeman's winning beast at Colchester Christmas Prime Stock Show Picture: STEVE WRIGHT

He will be selling the prize beef at his shop, J Coleman Butchers, at Boxted, and at Sudbury Market in the run-up to Christmas. Now 72, this was his 65th year buying at the show, having begun at the age of seven selling rabbits.

Over in the sheep pens, the overall champion’s trophy went to Kevin Peasgood of Foxburgh Farm, Dereham, in Norfolk, for the second year in a row with a pair of Texels. He keeps about 600 commercial cross-bred sheep, and some Texels. It was his second big win in a row.

“I’m really pleased,” he said. The sheep were snapped up by judge and Ipswich butcher George Debman.

The full report on Stanfords’ annual sale will feature in the County Life section of Saturday’s East Anglian Daily Times.

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