GREAT DAY FOR INAUGURAL NSA HIGHLAND SHEEP EVENT:The decision by NSA Scotland to create a northerly event to cater for members who find Scot Sheep (usually held near the Borders) too far to travel definitely paid off yesterday (Thursday 30th May) with a great buzz, a strong trade stand presence and plenty of visitors to Dingwall Auction Mart, Ross-shire. Attendance at the event exceeded expectations and we also had a great deal of success in signing up new NSA members – welcome to all of them.
The event was officially open by Lady Claire MacDonald (pictured), who spoke of the
fantastic quality of Scottish lamb and its place in high quality food offerings across the UK, as well as its contribution to tourism and hospitality in Scotland. Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead then took to the stage, focussing on the importance of sheep farming to the economy and social fabric of Scotland, and of the importance of effective CAP support to underpin the industry. He is clearly supportive of calls from some quarters for recoupling of payments (headage payments) although this was challenged by NSA Scotland Chairman Sybil McPherson who said recoupling was not an option favoured by NSA Scotland due to its effect on market drivers and creating additional barriers to new entrants. Mr Lochhead also answered a question about the need to increase the level of money spent on promoting Scottish red meat with a statement of intent to repatriate red meat levy collection, a regulatory issue that would require political will across the UK as a whole.
Also at the event, in the feature show and sale of ewe hoggs pairs it was a day for the Suffolks with Mr and Mrs Fowlie of Adziel, Aberdeenshire (pictured), taking the top two spotsin both the show and the sale. Both pairs were bought by Andrew Duguid for 1,000gns and 1,100gns respectively. Mary McCall-Smith of Connachan, Crieff, travelled up with her pair of Scottish Blackface hoggs to stand first in their class, with the duo going on to sell for 900gns to R. Munro. First place in the Young Shepherd of the Year competition went to David Colthart, who has recently completed a degree in agriculture and is under-shepherd at Atholl Estates, Pitlochry, Perthshire. David was also the highest placed under 21-year-old, while second place went to Ian Christie. The sheepdog trial was won by Hamish MacLean and Roy, with the overall team award going to the Lochaber team, captained by John MacKillop. Best under 18-year-old was Joe MacKenzie with his dog Died. The Scottish Blackface Sheep Association, Allans of Gillock and Allflex were judged the best breed society, outdoor and indoor trade stands respectively. Full competition results can be found on the NSA website and a picture gallery on our Facebook page.
Onwards now to NSA NORTH SHEEP this Wednesday (5th June), with plenty planned for visitors to Crimple Head Farm, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1QT. Details at www.northsheep.org.uk. Highlights will include:-
Seminars on ‘Opportunities for young entrants’, ‘Sustainable farming and CAP reform in the Uplands’, ‘Schmallenberg, scab and fluke’, ‘Succession planning for sheep farmers’, ‘BWMB: Your Board 2013’ and ‘Matching bought-in nutrition with your farms own resources’.
Lamb selection competition (selecting and grading live lambs for slaughter) on the Eblex stand with £50 prize money in the open and Under 22s sections.
Stockjudging competition of four pens of lambs with classes for gents, ladies, under 26s and under 19s – £100 prize pot for each class.
Young Shepherd of the Year competition (a qualifier for the National Final in 2014).
Practical demonstration on Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS).
30-minutes farm tour, with refreshments half way through from Black Sheep Ale, Kendalls Butchers and Park View bakery.
ATV ‘Ride and Try’ with Taylor ATV and Honda UK.
Sheep shearing competition – new for 2013.
Ready Steady Cook with four local competitors (Ted Ogden of CCM, Ian Smith of Wharfefale Farmers Market and lamb buyers Andrew Atkinson and Stephen Maskill), celebrity judge Stephanie Moon and humorous commentary from Frankie Walton.
Farmers market organised by Northern Dales Farmers Markets.
Dry stone walling, crook-making and spinning, weaving and felting displays.
Looking ahead to NSA SHEEP SOUTH WEST on Tuesday 11th June, members are reminded that the closing date for the carcase competition and fleece competition is Thursday 6th June. Contact Sue Martyn on 07967 512660 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the event website.
And don’t forget the first ever NSA YOUTHFUL SHEPHERD EVENT is being held on Saturday 8th June, 2.30pm at Darley Stud Management Co Ltd, Rutland Yard, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9RF. Please spread the word that the event is open to all, regardless of whether they are NSA members or not, and will be an unique opportunity for young people working in the sector or looking to pursue a career in the sector to have access to industry leaders and influencers, gain information and advice, and have a say about what the industry can do to better support young people. Visit the NSA website for more information and email email@example.com to register an interest in attending. And remember, anyone wanting to enter the Young Shepherd of the Year competition (a qualifier for the National Final in 2014) must enter beforehand. Application forms are on the website.
NSA FIGHTS BACK AGAINST ‘RE-WILDING’ SUGGESTIONS (INCLUDING REINTRODUCTION OF WOLVES!): Insomniacs still getting over lambing-related disturbed sleep patterns may have caught sight of NSA member Marie Prebble debating the practicalities of re-wilding the hills and uplands with George Monbiot on BBC Newsnight on Tuesday night (28th May). This followed two major articles in The Guardian where Mr Monbiot (pictured left) makes the case for re-wilding areas of
uplands and calls for CAP payments to be paid to land managers to encourage reversion to ‘primary habitats’ of scrub and then afforestation and the release of species now extinct, such as wolves. Backed by comments by a spokesperson from the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Marie (pictured right) confidently made the case that much of what the public love about the uplands was created and is managed by livestock farming. Indeed there are increasing examples that show the removal of livestock actually results in a decrease in biodiversity as coarse grasses, invasive plants, and scrub take over. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “Marie's views as a young entrant to sheep farming and a wildlife enthusiast came over as being realistic and well-balanced, recognising that we need to seek the optimum outputs from land management that include food production along with wildlife and a pleasant and attractive environment. Well done Marie; this was a demanding task and you did sheep farmers proud.” Find Mr Monbiot’s article here and watch Tuesday’s Newsnight on the BBC iPlayer here. You will find the re-wilding feature at 22.38 minutes and the interview with Marie at 31.40.
EMERGENCY AUTHORISATION PERIOD OPEN FOR ASULAM: Anyone wanted to apply for an ‘emergency authorisation’ to use asulam products for bracken control can now do so, ahead of the 1st July - 18th September window (plus ‘use-up’ period to 31st October) when product can be applied with a permit. The Bracken Control Group (co-ordinated by the Heather Trust) is warning that the label/guidelines for asulam use have changed and must be checked before use; the Bracken Control Group also recommends contacting your distributor or contractor as soon as possible. Click here for more from the Bracken Control Group.
TIGHTENING OF MOVEMENT RULES IN NORTHERN IRELAND: NSA members in Northern Ireland are reminded that as of tomorrow (1st June) all bought-in sheep moved to a market must be in the flock keepers’ record book. Until now if a farmer in Northern Ireland moved sheep to another farmer and forgot to send the Department of Agriculture a movement notification, and then moved them to market, the department would generate an ‘inferred movement’ and the sale could go ahead. As this is seen as a break in traceability it will not be allowed after 1st June 2013.
SHEEP FARMERS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT WORMER RESISTANCE BUT NOT TAKING ACTION: Thanks to almost 400 sheep farmers completing the Farming Against Wormer Resistance survey an excellent snap-shot of the anthelmintic resistance situation in the UK has been revealed. The project, led by Novartis Animal Health and supported by NSA and SCOPS, shows the growing awareness of resistance to wormers needs to be urgently translated into practical action. This was a message presenting at a press day on Tuesday (28th May) and a presentation from the event can be viewed here.
Speaking on Tuesday, NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said: "The findings suggest many farmers are aware of wormer resistance and relate this to poor productivity, but the majority are not able to put in place the actions to identify resistance or prevent resistance building up. The message has to be to build closer relationships with vets that have an interest and understanding of sheep parasitology, and to use faecal egg counting as a tool to monitor parasite load in sheep. Careful choice and rotation of wormer base ingredients, and then post-treatment egg counts to test efficacy are important approaches, as is using quarantine and associated treatments for stock coming onto the farm (including the farm's own stock that may have been away grazing) due to the potential risk of bringing on unwanted parasites. If we don’t use our wormers responsibly they will have a limited shelf life and, although the above should be followed generally, it is important to work with a vet, use the SCOPS guidelines and get to understand wormers and worm life cycles in more detail. The success of our industry depends on it.”
Lesley Stubbings of SCOPS says: “Looking further into the data there is still a very heavy reliance on the white drenches, with 90% of farmers used them in their worming programme in the past five years. This is a concern if less than 30% have tested to see if they are still effective, although on a positive note, the numbers relying on a single active is now in decline. Instead of doing what they done in the past, farmers should be looking to seek professional advice to understand the resistance status on their own farms. This is the first step in building a robust flock health plan incorporating worming, which is so important for their future viability.”
ALSO ON THE ISSUE OF ANTHELMINTICS: NSA member and Harper Adams’ Masters student Charles Willox is doing a (separate) in-depth study into how wormer resistance is regarded within the sheep farming community. He is inviting fellow NSA members to complete his online survey at https://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/harper-adams/ovine2013.
INTERACTIVE MAP SHOWS FLYSTRIKE IS SPREADING NORTH:
The new www.flystrikealert.co.uk website, created by the Scottish Rural College (SRUC, formerly SAC) and supported by NSA, is already showing where flystrike is causing problems around the UK. NSA encourages members to regularly check the website, but also report any problems seen on your own farm, to help create a useful online tool for the whole industry. All reports are completely anonymous and no information about your individual farm are kept or shared.
USING EBVs ON ‘HARD HILL’ FARMS: The next stage of Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) Scottish Sheep Strategy Breeding Project was announced by Cabin Secretary Richard Lochhead NSA at Highland Show yesterday (Thursday 30th May), and will focus on evaluating how commercial ‘hard hill’ businesses can benefit from using performance recorded genetics. The lambs from performance recorded rams on four farms will be assessed for survivability and profitability. Kathy Peebles, QMS Livestock Development Manager, says: “In a hill situation farmers often complain that it is too labour intensive to monitor how animals are performing, so with this particular project the farmers have been encouraged to explore how EID can be used to help track ewe and lamb performance. The trial results will provide experienced shepherds with another tool to select sheep suitable for hill conditions.” Calum Graham of Mugeary, Portree, one of the farmers involved in the new project (pictured in the black hat), says: “It’s become increasingly difficult to make any sort of viable margin on hill Blackface ewes. Removing them from the hills is an obvious solution – but once they are gone they are not going back. The use of recorded tups seems a possible solution. I wouldn’t buy a bull without viewing the EBVs for the traits I need. The last bulls bought using EBVs have proven successful.” NSA members interested in this project should contact Janette Sutherland on 01478612993 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUALITY AND ORIGIN KEY FOR RED MEAT CONSUMERS: A survey carried out by HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) as part of its Welsh consumer roadshow has found that 85% of shoppers look for quality first when buying red meat, followed by country of origin (57%) and then price (46%). Less important were animal welfare (27%), fat content (26%), colour (20%) and environmental credentials (14%). The majority of survey participants correctly identified red meat as a source of iron and protein, just over half knew it provided vitamin B, but far fewer appreciated it also contained zinc, selenium and vitamin D. HCC’s roadshow is travelling around Wales this summer promoting healthy eating to visitors and local residents.
ENTRY DEADLINE FOR WELSH SCHOLARSHIPS IS FRIDAY 7TH JUNE: NSA members in Wales have just one week remaining to apply for a HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) livestock scholarship of up to £3,500 to fund round-the-world travelling to discover best farming practices. Visit the HCC website for information.
DETAILS OF SHEEP BREEDERS ROUND TABLE ANNOUNCED: The keynote speaker at the Sheep Breeders Round Table, a biennial event organised by Eblex, Signet Breeding Services, NSA, HCC and Biosciences KTN, will be John McEwan from AgResearch in New Zealand. Under the ‘transforming data into profit’ theme, Mr McEwan will discussing Kiwi sheep production in relation to genomics and breed improvements. Ronald Annett, from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland, will also be presenting, plus a number of other representatives from throughout the industry. Register your interest in the event on Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd November at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham by emailing email@example.com or calling 02476 478828.
EMPLOYMENT OR VOLUNTARY POSITION SOUGHT: NSA has been contacted by Sarah Johnson, who is preferably looking for a full-time shepherding job but also willing to consider a part-time opportunity or even a voluntary work experience placement. She has experience of all elements of sheep work but has not worked on farms for six years and is very keen to find her way back into the sector. Sarah (24) is based in North Yorkshire but will consider opportunities further afield if accommodation is provided. She has a full driving licence and experience on ATVs, although no quad bike or trailer qualifications. She can be contacted on 07769 433212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSA DIARY OF EVENTS:-
NSA NORTH SHEEP:Wednesday 5th June at Crimple Head Farm, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1QT. More information here.
NEW EVENT: NSA YOUTHFUL SHEPHERDS’ EVENT:Saturday 8th June at Darley Stud Management Co Ltd, Rutland Yard, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9RF. Organised by NSA Eastern Region but open to young people from around the UK with an interest in the sheep sector, with a BBQ and social event to follow in the evening for sheep farmers of all ages. Click here for more information and an application form.
NSA EASTERN REGION EVENT:The Youthful Shepherds’ Event on Saturday 8th June replaces the NSA Eastern Region’s annual farm walk and so all Eastern Regional members are invited to the 8th June event and the BBQ afterwards. If anyone wishes to help, either before or on the day, please contact NSA Eastern Regional Manager Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or email@example.com.
NSA SHEEP SOUTH WEST:Tuesday 11th June at Moortown Barton, Knowstone, South Molton, Devon, EX36 4RZ. More information here.
NSA SOUTH EAST FARM WALK: Thursday 13th June, hosted by NSA SE Regional Chairman Andrew Barr, 2pm at Place Farm, Firle, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6LP. Please let Bob Blanden know you plan to attend – call 07860 689391 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSA SHEEP NORTHERN IRELAND:Monday 1st July at Ballymena Market, Woodside Road, Ballymena, County Antrim, BT42 4HX. Email Edward Adamson for more information by clicking here.
Details of next year’s ram sales can be found by clicking here.
Stamp Out Scab Roadshow: To give the English-wide Stamp Out Scab campaign the best possible chance of success it is vital that everyone involved in the sheep sector is involved in the project, not just farmers. So please spread the word to vets and SQPs that a series of meetings is being held in June and July (click here for a full list). [Meetings for farmers will follow this summer].