NSA Sheep Centre at Balmoral Show

Date: 16th May 2018 - 19th May 2018

Location: Balmoral Park, Lisburn, Co Antrim, BT27 5RE

This year was the 150th Anniversary of the show which staged it’s first show in The Corporation Market (now St Georges) in the centre of Belfast City. The ‘Royal’ connection means that we usually have someone from the Royal Family in attendance and even though she had a wedding to go to later in the week Princess Anne attended on the Wednesday of the show. 

Someone in the organising committees decided as this was a special anniversary for the show they would try to have lady judges for all the livestock classes. Quite a few the ladies did have connections with the NSA and included our 2016 George Hedley Award winner and past organiser of many sheep events Julie Sedgewick judging the commercial cattle classes.

When the number of visitors attending was tallied up after the show there had been 115,000 attended in what was the first dry and sunny week in about 10 months. It’s amazing how a bit of sun brightens up the spirits and most farmers were in a much better mood than would have been expected. Throughout the week a steady number of people passed through the NSA Sheep Marquee where we had committee members helping Abi Swaffield, membership recruitment officer from NSA HQ who travelled over for the event. Sheep farmers questioned us on many issues but top of the list was ‘What’s going to happen about Brexit?’ A difficult one to answer as our politicians are not really showing the urgency that is needed at present to give any guidance to farmers as to how they should make any decisions on the management of their businesses as we go out of EU in just 9 months. Also high on farmers minds was the implications of RUMA and how they should react to animal health requirements in the future. If nothing else the talk around antibiotic resistance in now focusing the minds of farmers and how they need to respond to keep animal health and diseases under control.

There were 650 trade stands displaying their wares, from brand new farm and plant machinery to all sorts of arts and crafts. The Young Farmers' Club day was on Thursday, with members showing their machinery handling skills, along with endless other activities and ending with the finals of the inter club tug-of-war contest in the evening which is well supported with intense support and advice.

Our NSA Sheep Marquee was well supported this by both Breed Societies and related trade companies who all reported busy stands and actual business done during the week. A few new stands in our marquee were pleased with their level of interest and intend returning next year.

In the sheep judging rings it was surprising to see how well the animals were turned out after the long and unpleasant winter we had.  Congratulations go to Cyril Cromie of Ballynahinch, Co Down as a shearling ewe from his Fort Flock of Zwartbles was awarded the Interbreed Championship. This was an unexpected result as was that of 25 years ago when an Ile de France Ram from ‘yours truly’ was also a bit of a surprise! Not to be forgotten at Balmoral Show 25 years ago in early May was the unexpected snowfall when some livestock was lost but all would hope that the weather of this year’s show will continue to allow stocks of forage for next winter to be accumulated.