NSA Sheep 2018
Positivity at NSA Sheep Event despite uncertainties for the future
Tremendous crowds leant a positive atmosphere to the flagship biennial event of the National Sheep Association (NSA), held on Wednesday 18th July at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire.
NSA Sheep 2018 had few more answers about Brexit than the show held two years’ ago, just after the EU referendum was held. But with a theme of ‘Thriving in an uncertain future’, the one-day business-to-business event provided attendees with information, advice and ideas to safeguard themselves and their flocks whatever happens politically over the coming months and years.
Lord Inglewood, NSA President, referred to this uncertainty as he officially opened the event. He said: “It would have been much better to have known what the deal on Brexit was before we voted on it but that’s not the way it’s been. What is happening in the House of Lords, because we have the time and the rules to do so, is to look at everything over this legislation.”
Lord Inglewood vowed to continue this work as more detail emerges on the Agriculture Bill, saying he and his colleagues would give it ‘very considerable scrutiny’. However, he warned, while there was acceptance public money should be used to pay for public goods, there was not going to be an abundance of public money to do that going forward.
Maintaining the industry with that shrinking pot of money was a topic that flowed through the four seminars at the event led by NSA officeholders and featuring industry leaders and experts. Considering subjects such as stimulating demand for sheepmeat both domestically and internationally, public goods delivered by the sheep sector, and utilising technology within the sector to help businesses thrive, the seminars provided opportunity for all to contemplate a future positively
Commenting on the success of this year’s seminar programme, NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “It was pleasing to witness the seminar tent so full with attendees clearly interested and enthused. The discussion generated in each of the seminars I consider to be evidence of the desire of our sheep farmers to position themselves in the best possible way despite the uncertainties immediately ahead of us.”
In addition to the seminars, double the number of workshops were delivered at NSA Sheep 2018 compared to previous years allowing visitors to focus on specific topics in more detail, including foot health, nutrition, responsible antibiotic use and sustainable parasite control. The workshop area also saw NSA Next Generation lead two sessions on the future of employed shepherds in the UK, and NSA and Woodland Trust jointly launch a new booklet offering practical advice on integrating trees onto sheep farms.
A packed day also saw a record number of international visitors attend, a number of awards and prizes awarded, various demonstrations run, and a popular sheepdog sale take place. The top priced sheepdog was Don, a two-year-old dog offered for sale by Mr D.K. Evans of Penclyn Farm, Brecon, Powys, and sold for 3,400gns to Mr P. Langdown.
A popular attraction, the finals of the NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year competition saw 15 competitors put through their paces in six shepherding challenges. Scoring the most points across the board and taking the prestigious title plus £1,000 prize money was 24-year-old Rob Walker of Brennand Farm, Clitheroe, Lancashire. Rob is a partner in the family business running 1,300 Swaledale ewes, having previously studied at Newton Rigg College and worked as a self-employed shepherd.
Rob says: “I am really pleased to win this prize against very strong competition. The whole event was very well organised and enjoyable to attend. It’s my second time competing at Malvern, so to take the top prize this time was a real honour”.
Second prize and winner of a new award from British Wool for the competitor with the highest score in the shearing element of the competition, was James Westacott, 25, of Cullompton, Devon.
Also recognised for demonstration of excellent shepherding skills was Dafydd Davies, 18, from Bala, Gwynedd, awarded the title of best shepherd aged 21 and under. Dafydd was also fourth in the overall competition.
Another hard-fought contest took place at the event as teams of fencing specialists competed in the popular Tornado Wire fencing competition requiring a section of stock fencing to be erected to a professional standard in just three hours. The winner this year was M.J. Fencing of Leominster, Herefordshire, previous winner of the title in 2014 also.
Away from the busy activity in the shepherding and fencing areas, the fleece competition featured a good number of entries in all classes. Taking the champion fleece title was Ms Davina Stanhope of Shropshire with a fleece entered in the lustre class. Ms Stanhope’s fleece now qualifies for the British Wool Golden Fleece Competition.
Completing the line-up of winners from the NSA Sheep Event 2018 were the many trade and breed society exhibitors who were presented with stand prizes for a high standard of display. Best outdoor stand was Stow Agricultural, best indoor stand was MSD Animal Health, best breed society stand was the Texel Sheep Society, and awarded a prize for presentation of the best pen of sheep on a stand was the Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders Association.
Helen Davies, NSA Sheep Event Organiser concludes: “The work involved in holding an event such as this is considerable but completely worthwhile when we all can enjoy a busy, successful event such as that held yesterday. We thank all who sponsored, exhibited, competed or visited the event and look forward to welcoming them to further NSA events in the future."
- NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year 1, Rob Walker, Clitheroe (NSA Northern Region); 2 and highest placed shearer, James Westacott, Cullompton (NSA South West Region); 3, Sam Edwards, Truro (NSA South West Region); 4 and highest placed 21-year-old and under, Dafydd Davies, Bala, (NSA Cymru/Wales Region); 5, Rollo Deutsch, Chipping Camden (NSA Marches Region); 6, Iain Wilson, County Antrim (NSA Northern Ireland Region).
- Tornado Wire Fencing 1, M.J. Evans Fencing; 2, Tim Bennett Farm Fencing; 3, Morgan Fencing.
- Fleeces Champion, D. Stanhope, Shropshire; reserve, E. Owen, Conwy. Fine (including Down, Down Cross & Portland) 1, Miss Y. Hoskins; 2, D. Wilkins. Medium (including Halfbred, Kent, Texel & Lleyn) 1, R. Harding; 2, R. Harding. Cross (including Masham, Mule & Greyface) 1, A.R. Wear; 2, E. Owen. Lustre (including Wensleydale, Lincoln, Devon, Cotswold & Bluefaced Leicester) 1, D. Stanhope; 2, T.H. Franklin. Hill (including Radnor, Improved Welsh, Cheviot, Exmoor, Gritstone & Lonk) 1, E. Owen; 2, E. Owen. Mountain (including Swaledale, Dalesbred, Blackface, Rough Fell & Welsh) 1, R. Harding; 2, R. Harding. Natural Coloured (including Jacob, Herdwick, & Black Welsh Mountain or any other natural coloured pure bred or cross bred fleece) 1, E. Owen; 2, B. & J. Knowles.
- Outdoor trade stand 1, Stow Agricultural; 2, Tornado Wire; 3, Meadows Farm Vets.
- Indoor trade stand 1, MSD Animal Health; 2, Z Tags (Datamars Agri); 3, Oliver Seeds.
- Breed society stand 1, Texel Sheep Society; 2, Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders’ Association;
- 3, Blackface Sheep Breeders’ Association.
- Best pen of sheep on a breed society stand 1, Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders’ Association; 2, British Charollais Sheep Society; 3, North of England Mule Sheep Association.