Case Study: Euan Orr

1st October 2014

This article, featuring Euan Orr, first appeared in the October/November edition of Sheep Farmer magazine. By Caitlin Peck, NSA 

It’s been a good year for Euan Orr. This summer he won the NSA Young Shepherd of the Year National Final, the NSA/Royal Highland Show Lamb Dressing Competition, and the Scottish YFC National Stockman of the Year title – all at the age of 18.

Euan hails from Tarbrax, West Calder, West Lothian, where he helps his father run their mixed livestock farm. When he’s not on the farm he’s at Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh, where he studies civil engineering.

“It’s not farming related, but it’s a good course,” Euan says. “I enjoy it. I’ll be able to use some of the skills I’m gaining at university as a farmer – my maths is certainly a lot better!” Although Euan enjoys his studies he sees his future in agriculture. “I’m going to stick with farming,” he says. “When I finish university I’ll probably come back and work on the family farm.”

Commercial flock

At present, the farm is home to 600 commercial ewes and 100 suckler cows. The ewes are Texel cross Lleyns, which are put to Texel and Lleyn rams to produce fat lambs. Euan also runs his own small flock of pure Suffolks and Texels, selling tups as shearlings.

Euan winning streak this summer started by taking top place in the NSA Scottish Region Young Shepherd of the Year Competition at NSA Scot Sheep in June. Just two weeks later, prizes for stockjudging led to Euan being awarded the title of SAYFC National Stockman of the Year at the Royal Highland Show. But that wasn’t all Euan took home from Royal Highland – he also won the lamb dressing competition ran by NSA Scottish Region.

His win at NSA Scot Sheep qualified Euan for the NSA Young Shepherd of the Year National Final at NSA Sheep Event in July, where he once again came out on top.

“The competitions have been great,” Euan says. “It’s been very exciting, and I’ve been very happy with my wins.” So is there a secret to his success? Euan says not: “I’ve just kept learning the skills and revising and practicing for any competition.”

Euan’s next challenge is the Young Shepherd Competition World Final in France at the start of October, where he will represent Scotland. The UK is sending eight competitors, two from each of the UK nations. The representatives from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were decided at their regional NSA competitions, and they will be joined by the two best placed English contestants from the NSA Young Shepherd of the Year National Final.

World final

The competition will involve ewe sorting, foot trimming, body condition scoring, evaluation of finishing lambs, handling skills, quad bike riding and shearing. Euan is remaining calm about the trip to France. “I’m just going to enjoy it,” he says. “We’re going on some farm tours before and after the competition, which will be interesting.

“NSA has given me some great opportunities this year. The NSA Young Shepherd of the Year Competition was a really good chance to improve my skills and to use them in a competition.”