NSA Sheep Centre at the Royal Ulster Show 2016

Date: 11th May 2016 - 13th May 2016

Location: Balmoral Park, Maze Long Kesh, Lisburn, BT27 5RF

By Edward Adamson, NSA Northern Ireland Region Development Officer

It’s over for another year and what a wonderful event the Royal Ulster Show at Balmoral Park was. The NSA Sheep Centre had a ‘full house’ of sheep breeds and trade exhibitors, who all reported a good number of visitors with solid enquiries.

The thronged alleyways around the show were not replicated in the marquee but no one really wanted all those crowds when only a small percentage were really interested in sheep related exhibits. Those who called in had the time and space to talk, examine and enjoy what was to be seen.

Those involved got a pleasant surprise when the Lleyn Sheep Society exhibiting in the NSA Sheep Centre won reserve prize in the competition for the best trade stand in the pavilions. The judges said they had been round hundreds of stands so this was quite an achievement. It was a joint celebration for me, as organiser of the NSA Sheep Centre and also Lleyn Sheep Society Northern Ireland Breeders Club Chairman! Well done and thank you to all who helped, including Declan Mullen for supplying the sheep.

The shearing competitions were held adjacent to the NSA Sheep Centre, where a large number of spectators, as always, watched and supported their favourites. Sheep shearers from 15 different countries were flexing their muscles and over the three days parted 1,800 hogget ewes from their coats. It was very pleasing to see three familiar faces from the Young Shepherd of the Year competition at NSA Sheep Northern Ireland do so well.

Sam McConnell, our 2011 winner, won the blade shearing and will represent Northern Ireland in the world sheep shearing championships in New Zealand in February 2017. Russell Smith of Coleraine, County Londonderry, our 2015 winner, was placed third in stiff competition for the YFCU advanced shearing section. And Iain Wilson of Islandmagee, our 2015 runner-up, won the YFCU novice competition.

Also immediately outside the marquee, the sheep interbreed champion in the showing section was a Charollais shearling ram owned by Diane Christie and shown by Trevor Bell. I make no excuse for blowing my son’s trumpet, as he gained breed champion in the Ile de France classes. It is best not to count back to the first time that I won this award!

It was a very busy three days, as I tried to be several places at the same time, had meetings and networked. A special thank you to Charlotte, NSA Membership Recruitment Officer, who manned the NSA stand and entertained visitors when other committee members were not around.

The NSA Sheep Centre at the Royal Ulster Show is one of three organised by NSA. Come and join us at the Royal Highland (23rd-26th June) and Royal Welsh (18th-21st July) shows.