Dutch in 2013

Although the Bradford cum Harrogate Championship Show in January is something of a must for several cavy fanciers, it never seems to attract much of a Dutch entry unless there is a stock show being entertained. Harrogate 2013 proved no different as it attracted a total of 656 cavies but only 10 were of the Dutch variety. In the adults, P & E Smethurst (better known for Dutch rabbits I believe) took the Red class with Sharon Collis winning the Black/Choc class with a Black boar. Julie Davies often makes the pilgrimage to this event and was rewarded by winning the Red 5/8 months class whilst Malcolm Atkinson took the AOC honours with a Black. From the show report, both sounded worthy representatives of the breed. Best Dutch though appeared to be the winning Red sow in the young classes as Amy Heale's entry received very complimentary comments from the judge and was only beaten by two top class Agoutis in the Marked/Ticked Challenge u/5 months.

Normally, the DCC Northern Area Spring Show takes place at Keighley thanks to the kind invitation of the Yorkshire Championship Show committee; a venue that I feel cannot but bettered for such an event. However, this year there was some upheaval because of work on the hall and the date was delayed until May. I can't recall all facts involved but, for this year, it was decided to forego Keighley in favour of Worth Valley nearer the usual April date. The entry probably suffered a bit but a total of 19 Dutch were entered and by a good mix of fanciers from the north and elsewhere with some much further south. It was good to see that Harold Laycock is still showing although with not quite the success that he had a few years back when he had a really useful Red boar that was good enough to challenge the best.

This time Best Dutch went to a nice Red boar shown by Kevin Hopkins with another Red boar from Chris Pearson taking the runner up position in the Grand Challenge. Alan Wilson then followed with a young Red sow and kept the Cream Dutch flag flying with what Judge Malcolm Atkinson described as a very nice looking Cream with a lovely shade of colour. However, whatever the charms of this pig may have been, the Best AOC Dutch when to Kim Holmes with a Golden Agouti; a colour that she has done well with past and present. In the 5/8 months age group, Sarah Stribley prevailed with a Red boar.

Probably the main reason that Keighley was sidestepped this year was to create a more even spread of stock shows throughout the year and with so many DCC showing members in the South West it was not surprising that the South West Area Show at Devon County in May proved to be the second best supported with an entry of 31 Dutch. That is not exactly sensational in comparison with past years but entries have been very much down throughout 2013 (averaging 25.5 pigs per show compared to 47 ten years ago).

Here, Alan Wilson did the honours and, in the final line up, it was Amy Heale, 1,2,3, with her good Chocolate boar, 'Burgenhagen II' leading two of her Reds. However, Alan was also very complimentary about Kevin Hopkins' Red boar that had to be content with 2nd place in the challenges today. His youngster though fared better in the less competitive u/5months classes, winning the Red boar class and the following challenges. Best in the intermediate age group was Wilmot Goldsworthy with a neat Black Dutch and it seems that it was this pig that chased up Amy's trio in the final challenge. It was also pleasing to note that Alan found time to mention the adult Black Dutch of Ewan Collis that took 2nd in the adult classes and was a well deserved Best Juvenile notwithstanding the lack of competition.

For the second year running, our Northern Summer Show at Bingley Agricultural was cancelled, this time through lack of entries and the event was re-scheduled for Worth Valley Fanciers on 2nd November.

Betley Horticultural Show in August is certainly becoming a major event in the cavy calendar that goes from strength to strength and attracts great support  479 cavies this year. Sadly, it seems to be 'off the radar' when it comes to Dutch entries as 19 pigs was rather disappointing and provided the joint lowest entry for the shows that went ahead. Of course, this is no reflection on the show itself that, as far as I'm aware, has only received good comments and compliments all round rated Best Show of the Year by Cavies Management

Wilmot Goldsworthy was officiating here for the Margaret Elward Memorial Show. This time, Amy Heale took just the 1st (Chocolate) and 2nd (Red) in the Grand Challenge with Brian Leiper taking 3rd place with a smart 5/8 months Black (fair stops, heavy balanced cheeks, good blaze, saddle & under) Reserve went to a promising Silver Agouti from Gary Clark and we will surely see more of this pig in the future. Only the cheeks seemed to prevent this pig from doing better. Another pig worthy of mention was a nicely balanced Chocolate Agouti from Madelaine Coomber (Best Youngster) and it was good to see Goyt Valley Cavies (Harry Bell) making an appearance at the show.

The DCC Southern Area Show at Real London in September proved to be the most successful show of the year with 33 Dutch entered but even this was disappointing in comparison to the two previous DCC shows at this event. The initial show attracted 60 plus exhibits, last year, it was in the low forties and now we were down to 33 for judge, Gary Clark to sort out. Again, it was Amy Heale's Chocolate adult pig that took top honours; described by Gary as a huge, fit pig with excellent markings. A good class of adult Black Dutch was a feature of the show and two from Wilmot Goldsworthy's stable took the minor placings in the Grand Challenge.

Gary also made special mention of Graham Godfrey's adult Silver Agouti sow (that was also singled out for praise by the judge in the Real London classes) and Alan Wilson's u/5 months Cream a nicely set up pig with beautiful colour. In the Red classes, I was particularly impressed with Emily Bennett's adult Red boar that was successful on both sides, winning classes of 7 (DCC) and 5 (Real London) as it carried the colour that I would like to see in my own stock. In the AOC Agoutis, Maureen Woodward (Cinnamon) and Madelaine Coomber (Chocolate) kept the flag flying for these two attractive colours that are sadly lacking in breeders and support. There's an opportunity here for anyone wanting to accept the challenge and take on something different.

The DCC Midland Area Show was to be staged at the London Championship Show, Peterborough but through a lack of entries (only two people entered), it was cancelled and with two shows already arranged for November, it was agreed not to try for a replacement date and venue.

The reorganised Northern Area Show was held at Worth Valley Fanciers on 2nd November and managed to attract a reasonable entry of 23 Dutch for judge, Brian Leiper to sort out. At the time of writing I have little knowledge of the results other than the Grand Challenge where Amy Heale took 1st and 2nd (Chocolate followed by a Red) with Kim Holmes taking the 3rd spot with her Golden Agouti Dutch. I understand though that there was a good gathering of fanciers and that the show went off well.

A fortnight later, the DCC Annual Stock Show and AGM was held at East Hanningfield, Essex where 28 Dutch were entered for Madelaine Coomber to judge. One would have hoped for more but, unfortunately, falling entries have become something of the norm during this past year. In addition, several colours failed to be represented at this the major Dutch show of the year. Reds Blacks, Chocolates and Creams were in evidence together with one Golden Agouti but the others were all conspicuous by their absence; a pity and more about this later.

In the Reds, a young boar from Alan Wilson proved to be best and was good enough to take the 3rd place in the Grand Challenge behind two Chocolates from Amy Heale. Kevin Hopkins took the adult Red class but had to be content behind Amy Heale's sow in the challenges. I know the feeling as I'm sure others do too. As regards the Black and Cream Dutch, these were provided by the two stalwarts of these colours; Wilmot Goldsworthy taking the Black awards and Alan providing the Cream winners. Sarah Stribley made the long journey from Cornwall with Wilmot and had rather bloodless if worthy wins with her Golden Agouti and also a 5/8 months Chocolate Dutch. The rest of the Chocolates present were entered by Amy Heale with her noted adult taking all before him bar the Grand Challenge where a new face came to the fore; namely the winning youngster described by Madelaine as 'a little cracker'. It looks like this is one to watch for in the future.

To review the year in general, there has been good and bad aspects. On the good side, the officials have worked well together and with Amy Heale in her first year as secretary, we have found a little gem. Since the AGM, it has been said to me that we should have given her more credit for all the good work she has done in just a few months. A great newsletter (and in colour), some very nice prize cards, a new club stand in co-operation with the National Agouti Cavy Club, plus a few other things. The only bad and sad thing on the management side of things is that we have lost Allen Cooper as our scrutineer and this was a task that he performed for the Club with his usual efficiency and goodwill. The tributes in the December issue of Cavies express the loss to the Fancy better than I can but from my limited dealings with him, I knew him to be most amiable and pleasingly forthright and honest in his manner; a loss indeed.

Membership for the year may be slightly down and I notice that a few people have not renewed. Why not, I just don't know as Amy is doing all that one can expect from a club secretary. Our shows are spread around to country although we do have to select areas and venues that will attract sufficient support to make things worthwhile. Very low entries, less than 15 exhibits, result in the cancellation of an event and there is no pleasure in having to inconvenience exhibitors and the show organisers in this way. However, for 2014, the AGM selected some really good venues and all we need is the entries from members to make some great days out.

Finally, looking at the current state of the colours within our breed makes for a pretty mixed picture. The number of Reds being shown has held up quite well and better than some years when there was even the question raised whether we should reduce the classes on our schedule. In reality, there was no need then or now. Blacks, like Reds, remain popular with Wilmot Goldsworthy often to the fore. There has been a demand for these colours recently although, surprisingly, not for Chocolates despite Amy Heale's latest wins and, in earlier days, by Sarah Stribley and her outstanding Treble Champion Treleaver Amber. Creams remain very much in the hands of Alan Wilson and he is to be congratulated in regularly fielding such useful teams of this difficult colour. Lilacs together with Cream Agouti Dutch have been absent from the show table all year.

Golden Agoutis could be more popular with only Kim Holmes and Sarah Stribley flying the flag in 2013. The loss of Palace Cavies from the show scene has meant a dip in the numbers of Silver Agouti Dutch being shown although Graham Godfrey and, more recently, Gary Clark have been able to do well with some very tidy exhibits. Cinnamon and Chocolate Agouti Dutch are in even fewer hands it seems with Madelaine Coomber (both colours) and Maureen Woodward being the mainstay of these Cinderella breeds.

Of course, one can make a good case for all the colours and I do hope that more fanciers will think about joining and help to make the Dutch Cavy Club even stronger and better.