NSA NI Region visit to agricultural show Sommet de L’Elevage

Date: 3rd October 2016 - 6th October 2016

 NSA Northern Ireland Regional Members recently visited the Clermont and Limoges regions of France. The trip was primarily organised to visit European agricultural show Sommet de L’Elevage in Clermont Ferrand, but the group also enjoyed several farm visits as well as a trip to INRA - the research centre in France

Edward Adamson, NSA NI Regional Development Officer, explains the groups trip which involved visits to farms and research across the Limoges and Clermont regions of France as well as a trip to the well-known agricultural show Sommet de L’Elevage  in Clermont Ferrand.

He says: "Our first visit was to Du Mourier Experimental Farm which is run by Le CIIRPO and connected to Institut de L’Elevage, the national R&D organisation involved in breeding livestock. Farm Director Denis Gautier described the farm and how they disseminated the information to farmers. The research centre started in 2003 and an advisory board consisting of 15 sheep producers guides on the projects to be trialled.  Du Mourier runs 720 ewes on 95 hectares, trialling several grazing systems. When we visited, a trial comparing cell grazing versus set stocking was underway. Within this, the farm is measuring production, labour requirements, economics, environmental issues and grass structure in both systems. Denis reckons sheep are labour intensive, but the optimum is 500 ewes per labour unit.

"Our other visits were to sheep farms, with one of the most interesting being the 116-hectare farm belonging to Colin and Zoe Horlock who moved from Essex 13 years ago. Their 500 ewe flock is based on a mixture of Suffolk and Charollais which are grazed on a paddock system. Unfortunately, they hadn’t had any rain since the end of June (we visited in October) and it was difficult to see any difference between the grazed paddocks and those they were due to move to. They had been able to make some excellent hay early in the summer, but had used half of it as a substitute to replace grass. The biggest surprise of the visit was being greeted on arrival by William and Fiona Elliot, who had moved to the area a few years ago from Tildarg near Ballyclare. Word had got out through their lamb group that a party from Nothern Ireland were visiting so they came and met us. William was in my local lamb producer group, Antrim Quality Lamb before he moved over to France.

We concluded the tour with a full day visiting agricultural show Sommet De L’Elevage, before returning home after an enjoyable and interesting few days in hot and sunny France."