Next Generation Shepherd Competitions
The NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year Competition is a chance for anyone aged 26 and under to show off their sheep farming skills. Each NSA region runs one competition over a two-year period. The top two contestants from each regional round qualify for the national final at NSA Sheep Event at Three Counties Showground, which is held biennially in July.
NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year competitions are hands-on and practical. Contestants are required to demonstrate lamb classification, handling, vaccination and dosing techniques, shearing/clipping and to put an ATV through its paces. There is also a written or verbal test on flock management and health issues.
Finalists are regularly invited to attend European and World Young Shepherd events, to compete against students and young people from other countries. The four UK nations have an exceptional track record in these competitions, with NSA, AHDB and others supporting their travel overseas.
Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the live finals of the 2019/2020 competition were postponed. However, several competition elements moved online to allow finalists the opportunity to compete with 19 year old Harry Lyons from Cheshire eventually named as NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year. Read more about Harry's win on the NSA news page here.
Regional heats for the next round of the competition are beginning very soon. Visit the NSA events page to find an event near you soon.
Below meet the final 12 competitors who competed for their slice of the £2000 prize pot this year, kindly donated by longstanding competition sponsors The Texel Sheep Society.
Representing NSA Marches Region:
Tom Garlick, Herefordshire - “My name is Tom Garlick. I am 19 years old and work at home on the family farm near Hereford. I am a member of my local young farmers club, Welsh Newton YFC where I currently hold the role of Vice Chairman. I have participated in ploughing and machinery as well as competing in stockjudging at County and National levels.
“Our family partnership farms around 1500 acres in Herefordshire comprising of beef, sheep, arable and contracting.
“Sheep were reintroduced into the business in 2012 by myself building up to a flock of 1100 ewes today. In addition we fatten around 1500 store lambs and grazing ewes through the winter months. I am predominantly responsible for the sheep enterprise with help from family and staff as required. We run a Texel cross mule ewe lambing from the beginning of February indoors with any late lambers and ewe lambs lambing in April. All ewes are tupped to Texel or Texel cross Berrichon ram with ewe lambs being served by pure Berrichon rams. All lambs are fattened on creep feed with the aim to have the majority sold by the end of September. Any remaining homebred lambs are run alongside the purchased store lambs during the autumn. All lambs are sold deadweight.”
Representing NSA Scottish Region:
Amy-Jo Reid, Aberdeenshire - “I live and work in the Moray and Grampian areas in Scotland. I contract shepherd 600 organic Lleyn, Texel and Romney cross ewes for the Drummuir estate, producing prime organic lamb direct to the abattoir and home bred replacement females, selected on performance and maternal data. I also own 250 commercial North Country Cheviot ewes, 20 pedigree Texels and gimmer 200 mule and home bred Cheviot mule hoggs annually, all on seasonal lets. All other lambs are finished off grass or forage crops direct to the abattoir, and maiden gimmers sold at our local market.
“I started ultrasound scanning through the winter months, as well as hill gathering and work to help other farmers and shepherds through the busier summer months. I also train and work border collie sheepdogs.
“As well as qualifying for this competition I am a current NSA Next Generation Ambassador.”
Farquahar Renwick, Lochbroom, Rossshire.
“My name is Farquhar Renwick and I am from Lochbroom in the North West of Scotland. We have a family farm and run North Country Cheviot sheep and Luing cattle. My family has a rich history of farming and I am proud to be part of it all. I was honoured to be asked to represent Scotland in this competition and I’m looking forward to it. I have represented Scotland before, twice at the International Young Shepherd competitions in Paris and once at the International sheepdog trials.
“I think this competition during difficult times is a great idea, although the format of it will be totally different to competitions in the past I am looking forward to getting involved.”
Representing NSA Cymru / Welsh Region:
Daniel Llyr Williams, Anglesey - “My name is Daniel Llyr Williams, I’m 18 years old and I live on a fourth generation family run farm at Ysgellog, Anglesey, North Wales. We farm around 500 acres of low land with 110 suckler cows and more than 1000 Suffolk and Texel cross breeding ewes. We also keep 50 pure Texels and 40 pure Suffolk ewes. Most of our lamb is sold deadweight with around 40 Texel and Suffolk yearling and ram lambs sold to other farms each year.
“I mainly work on our family farm but I also work on two dairy farms between them milking more than 750 cows in a New Zealand spring calving system.
“During the summer months I work shearing with two other guys, we have a round of about 30,000 sheep all over Anglesey.
“Before going into work this year I was studying Agricultural Level 3 in Glynllifon college. During my time at the college I had various opportunities including the Wales NSA Next Generation shepherd competition 2019. I received second place at the age of 17 in the under 21 and 26 categories at national level.
“My plan for the future is to start off farming on my own hoping to eventually take over the family farm from my mother and father. I hope to keep expanding and to be as successful as possible and also hope to travel the world in the next few years, hopefully including a few shear seasons in New Zealand.”
Tomos Davies, Denbighshire - “My name is Tomos Davies. I live on our Family’s farm, Y Lon near Prion, Denbigh in the beautiful Vale of Clwyd. We have a mixed livestock farm with the sheep flock consists mainly of crossbred ewes and a small flock of purebred Lleyn sheep. All the ewes are crossed onto Texel rams to produce Butchers lambs with some Lleyn cross Texel replacements retained for the crossbred flock.
“Following school I decided to study BTEC Level 3 in Engineering at Glynllifon College near Caernarfon and benefited greatly from the experience.
“NSA Welsh Sheep 2019 was held at the college giving me the the opportunity to compete in the College young shepherd team. I was fortunate to win the under 21 section and went on to compete for my country in the European Young Shepherd event at Paris in February 2020 and came in 6th place.
“As part of my Engineering course, we had to complete a specialist project, I decided to build my own three stand shearing trailer, winning best project 2019. After finishing my studies at Glynllifon I have now started a contract shearing business with my brother on this very trailer and now shear 15,000 ewes locally. In December 2019 I went to New Zealand to shear for two months, this was a fantastic experience which both improved my shearing tally and technique, it was also an opportunity to see how the Kiwis farm and see the beautiful country.”
Representing NSA Northern Region:
Matthew Fearon, Cumbria - “Hi, I’m Matthew Fearon. I’m 21 and am currently working as a contract shepherd. I was lucky enough to be born into farming, on a hill farm in the Borrowdale Valley, Cumbria where I developed my passion for everything to do with the Lake District hill farms, the Herdwick sheep running on the fells and traditional dog and stick shepherding techniques.
“As a contract shepherd, I am now running a hill farm in the lakes carrying two flocks of Herdwick ewes in the Thirlmere valley. I’ve been here almost a year now. It’s provided a great opportunity for me to get into farming. Before this I was self employed, working on two other hill farms and helping on our family farm.
“My three border collies play a crucial part of my job, but I also enjoy competing with them in open and nursery trails in my spare time.”
Representing NSA South West Region:
Adam Garthwaite, Devon - “Hi everyone. My name is Adam Garthwaite, I’m 27 years old. Originally from County Durham in the North East, I now live in Devon.
“I am predominantly a beef and sheep farmer working alongside my father John and mother Mabel. As a side-line to our own livestock I am a contract shearer and do various other livestock husbandry work for other farmers in the area. I do a small-scale bit of fabrication based mainly around the manufacture of sheep and cattle feeders and handling.
“Our livestock at home consists of pedigree Limousin cattle, from which we produce breeding bulls to sell to both commercial and pedigree suckler herds and a sheep flock of Swaledale and Bluefaced Leicester. We run both pedigree and commercial Swaledale ewes, some going pure annually to breed replacements whilst the others are crossed with the modern type Bluefaced Leicester. We have a small flock of pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters to breed our own tups for crossing and others which we sell as breeders, mainly in Markets in the North of England such as Carlisle.
“My passion lies within the livestock industry. I get great pleasure out of the breeding side of things and producing livestock to as high a standard as I can.”
Representing NSA Eastern Region:
Tom Martin, Norfolk - “My name is Tom Martin, I am 21 and come from Hilgay, a small village in West Norfolk. I have grown up on my family beef, sheep and arable farm which I have had a keen interest in from a young age.
“I am a self Employed shepherd working on several different farms during the course of the year, as well as doing harvest jobs.
“I have my own flock of pedigree Texel sheep with my younger brother. The flock was established in 2013 when we both received an in-lamb ewe each for Christmas. Our main goal is to breed strong shearling tups that go on and do, aimed more for the commercial market. We sell our rams mainly from home and at NSA ram sales.
“I spend a lot of my time on the family farm working closely alongside my father, where in recent years we have been selectively breeding replacement females from our own flock, looking closely into positive maternal traits whilst using composite rams, with the hope to moving all future lambing outdoors at the same time as reducing input costs.
“In the last year I have learnt to shear and I am looking forward to the coming season where I hope to better my skills."
Representing NSA Central Region:
Harry Lyons, Cheshire - “I’m Harry Lyons, a 19 year old student at Reaseheath College where I am in the third year of a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture.
“I am not from a farming background but have been interested in farming since the age of four when my uncle bought me two sheep. From this small beginning I have built up a flock of 120 which I run on approximately 100 acres of rented ground. On this acreage, I am also able to produce hay and haylage for my own use and for sale.
“The flock comprises of pedigree Suffolks with some Suffolk cross ewes which I am planning to use for embryo transfer. My main interest is in the pedigree lines of the Suffolk breed and I try to improve my flock every year by selectively buying in new breeding stock. As well as running my own flock and studying to complete my college course, I also work for a well-known Suffolk breeder who generously helps me with his knowledge and advice. In addition to this I have recently been given the opportunity to take over the running of a small farm, which I have restocked with North Country Cheviot ewes in order to breed MV Scotch Half-breds and Suffolk x Scotch Half-breds which I aim to sell into pedigree flocks for use as recipients.”
Jack Charleton, Derbyshire - “Having grown up on a large sheep and beef farm in Northumberland, I’ve been set on farming since an early age.
“In 2016 I graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in Agriculture and carried out a placement on a mixed arable and livestock farm in Sussex which was an invaluable experience. I then travelled to New Zealand and Australia that winter with a couple of friends.
“After returning I worked on my family farm before securing a job as a Trainee Farm Manager at Chatsworth Estate, Derbyshire. Over these past two years I have learnt and experienced all types of practical, theory and management tasks involved in running a large estate farm.
“In June 2020 I was promoted to Assistant Farm Manager which has provided more responsibility which is both challenging and enjoyable.
“At the start of 2020 I became an NSA Next Generation Ambassador. We managed to have one gathering before lockdown which was really interesting to meet the other ambassadors and visit other sheep farms. I am looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the team soon and hopefully once we get back to a new type of norm, begin the ambassador programme again.”
Representing NSA Northern Ireland Region:
Alexander Boyd, County Antrim - “My name is Alexander Boyd, I am 21 years old. I farm on my family’s beef and sheep farm just outside of Straid, County Antrim. We farm 300 acres and keep 110 Saler suckler cows and 330 Texel X, Mule and Easycare ewes.
I completed a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus in June 2019. I really enjoyed my time spent there, making new friends and learning new skills. For my placement year, I worked on a large hill farm in Newton Stewart, Scotland. The farm is 5,500 acres and runs 400 Saler suckler cows and 1600 ewes, 900 of which are Lleyn and the remaining 700 are south type Scottish Blackface ewes. I really enjoyed my year out.
“In October 2019, I headed off to New Zealand where I worked for an agricultural contractor driving tractors and I also did some sheep shearing too. It was a fantastic experience and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I made memories that I will never forget!
“I now work at home alongside my father and also work with my cousin in his cow foot trimming business. This is a skill which I find very interesting, as there is always an opportunity to learn more, and is a skill which I would like to develop further.
“I am a member of my local Young Farmers club, which is Straid. This year I am the club treasurer. I really enjoy taking part in club competitions, such as stock judging, Ulster Young Farmer and public speaking.”
Ryan Adams, County Antrim - “My name is Ryan Adams, I farm part time at home along with my dad. We have just a small farm where we keep 150 commercial ewes. Our ewes are all Suffolk or Texel cross ewes. I have just recently started keeping 30 Perth Scottish Blackface ewes also. In addition we have a poultry house where we keep turkeys for a local company, We also rare dairy bred calves here on farm, at the minute we have 90 calves.
“My two cousins and I have a sheep shearing run, shearing around 18,000 sheep through the season here starting mid-May to the beginning of July. Through the shearing season we go and compete in a lot of shearing competitions all over UK.
“Last year I travelled to New Zealand where I sheared for a contractor in Naiper North Island. My aim when I went out was to shear 300 in a day. I completed that goal before Christmas then went onto shear 401 in an 8 hour day just after the New Year.
“Alongside the farm I am a self-employed joiner.
“I'm a member of Coleraine Young farmers where I am currently club leader.”