YOUNG farmers were busy this week sourcing their calves for this year’s overwintering competition.

The competition is a tradition for many members of the Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFC) across Tynedale, in which members purchase a calf at an autumn mart sale, which they then rear throughout the winter to sell for profit in the spring.

The competition was started by Hexham and Northern Marts with the aim of encouraging young farmers to practise buying and selling cattle through the live auction system, as well as gaining hands-on practise in keeping livestock.

One young farmer who was sitting eagerly ringside this week at Hexham Mart was Haltwhistle YFC’s treasurer Kate Ogle.

This year Kate, who is 23, purchased a Limousin cross for £710, in the hope that its reputation as a fast-growing breed would ensure her success in the spring.

Since being a child, Kate has taken part in a number of the overwintering competitions, and in 2012 received second place for her Belgian Blue.

Kate said: “I first entered when I was a child, and it definitely helped me develop a sense of responsibility and pride over the beast that I’d reared myself.”

“The competition is important for young farmers, because it teaches us necessary business skills, such as what to look for in livestock at the mart, and how to make a profit on it in the future.

“People often say that farming is a way of life, and it is, but we can’t maintain that life if we don’t have a profit-making business behind it, so I’m glad to gain all the experience I can.”

As the treasurer of a Haltwhistle YFC, Kate said she always encouraged other members across the county to try their hand in future competitions.

She added: “Amongst being a social group, the YFC is all about training the next generation of farmers, and I’ve found this to be a great way of being introduced to the business.”