NSA Members' Weekly Update

By Suffolk Sheep Society 24th March, 2014

For week ending 21st March 2014




PROUD OF WHAT YOU DO? THEN SPREAD THE WORD FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN £400:With the nation getting excited about the launch of Lambing Live this weekend (visit the dedicated BBC page here) now is the time to put your own filmmaking skills to the test and enter the brand new NSA video competition ahead of the NSA Sheep Event on Wednesday 30th July. The competition is to find the best ‘advert’ for a career in sheep farming, and don’t worry if you’ve never picked up film camera before, as help is on hand.
We all know how rewarding living and working in the countryside can be, producing top quality lamb for British and international consumers, so this is your chance to shout about it and encourage youngsters to consider taking a shepherding job or a role in ancillary services when they are older. Show off how beautiful your corner of the UK is, how proud you are of your stock and why there are enough good things about your job to outweigh the days when it just never stops raining! This is how the competition will work:-

  1. Submit your video by Friday 16th May – tips below*
  2. An NSA judging panel will shortlist eight videos
  3. A skilled videographer at Farmers Guardian will edit the selected videos to create eight three-minute adverts and host them online
  4. The big online vote begins – vote for your favourite!
  5. The best three or four will be aired on large screens at the NSA Sheep Event for the final vote, and the video with the best combined vote (judging panel, online vote and event vote) will receive £400 first prize, with second and third attracting £200 and £100 respectively.

* You do not need to send in a properly edited video, just take lots of footage on your farm (up to one hour) and Farmers Guardian will do the rest. Tips for sending in footage include taking shots of your farm and you at work, as well as spoken bits to the camera. You can send the footage in any format but, particularly if you are using a video on a mobile phone, please select a high setting so the filming is of high quality. Sent your video to enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk marked ‘Sheep Event Video Competition’. Click here for full terms and conditions.
10 DAYS TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE IN THE NSA FREE PRIZE DRAW: There are just 10 days left before the end of the month when the second draw will be made it the NSA 2014 membership recruitment campaign to win an Advantage 3-in-1 Feeder (pictured). Everyone who joins the NSA automatically gets entered in the draw and existing members can also get their name in the hat if they recommend a friend or neighbour to sign up. There is no limit to the number of entries per person (the more people you recommend the more entries you get!) and if you’re not successful this time your name will remain in the hat for the four other draws being held this year. Find membership application forms, more information and terms and conditions at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/draw, or go to pages 10 and 11 in the March/April edition of Sheep Farmer magazine.
NSA SCOTLAND GETS MORE CAP DETAIL FROM SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT: Today (Friday 21st March) saw NSA Scottish Region Chairman Sybil Macpherson, Vice Chairman Ian Hepburn and Development Officer George Milne meet with Scottish Government officials to discuss CAP reform ahead of the Government’s consultation closing next week. George reports: “We discussed in detail the benefits and consequences of using coupled support in the sheep sector. It became clear that whilst an additional 5% of the budget may be available for coupled support, there were many burdens that would come on the back of this scheme being used. However, at this stage, all options remain open. We also discussed the possibility of splitting rough grazing into two regions, and it may well be that the use of land classifications may be an option to do this. Also discussed in detail was the splitting of the budget between region one and region two. The conclusions will be up for debate following the closure of the consultation, but at this stage we now have enough information to progress with a response that will provide the best outcome for the sheep sector.”

NSA RESPONSE TO GLASTIR CONSULTATION IN WALES COMING TOGETHER: The Glastir consultation in Wales closes a week today (Friday 28th March) and NSA has been firming up its response. As well as feeding opinions to NSA, farmers in Wales are also able to respond individually if they chose – click here. A few significant points include the ability to enter into targeted agreements without being part of an entry level scheme, the shifting of resources more towards targeted initiatives and away from entry level schemes for all, and proposals to offer advanced schemes and payments to all land over the 400 metre moorland line rather than just common land (this is possibly the ANC, areas of natural constraint approach, although no ANC in Wales has been confirmed yet). Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, adds: “There is recognition within the consultation document of examples where biodiversity and habitats have been damaged through a lack of grazing (finally we are starting to see recognition that livestock farming is central to upland ecology) with proposals to introduce minimum stocking levels to ensure optimum grazing levels.  Any views from members would be well received and copies of our draft response to help with individual responses can be provided by email.” Email Helen Davies, NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer, at helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.
SIX-DAY STANDSTILL CLAIM BY MP COULD CAUSE CONFUSION: Followers of the Lib Dem MP Tim Farron may have seen that Tim has claimed to have secured the abandonment of the six-day standstill rule in England by 2017, following a meeting with Farming Minister George Eustice. NSA welcomes this intervention but we would not like members expectations to be falsely built. NSA has been lobbying hard for the implementation of all the MacDonald recommendations relating to sheep (not just the six-day standstill but also tolerance on sheep tagging requirements and other issues) and was informed by Defra some time ago that there would be a full review of the six-day standstill but no guarantee it will be abandoned – although abandonment is now one of the options that will be considered, whereas it wouldn’t have been entertained six months ago. The one decision that has been confirmed in England is the extension of the five-mile radius requirements to a 10 mile radius in 2016. We will continue to keep members informed of decisions as they are made, and keep up the pressure on Defra in this area.
OFFICIAL DEFRA GUIDANCE ON NEW MOVEMENT REPORTING OPTIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Defra has posted its new official guidance document to all registered sheep keepers in England today (Friday 21st March) so you should receive your copy in the coming days. This is an updated version of its ‘Identifying Sheep and Goats: Guidance on the Rules for Keepers in England’ (last updated in December 2009) and Defra has asked us to inform you that this is the very final time they will be posting a copy of this document out, as all subsequent updates will be made to the online version only. This is part of the Government’s ‘digital strategy’ and a general move towards putting everything online. A copy of the new guidance can be found in the members-only area of the NSA website, alongside information from SouthWestern about the new electronic database and a Q&A created by NSA. If you do not know how to log into the members-only area at www.nationalsheep.org.uk, please email enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk.

NEW EBLEX BOARD MEMBERS APPOINTED: AHDB has appointed seven new EBLEX board members, including NSA Vice President and former Chairman Peter Baber. The other five new farmer members are Ed Green, Steve Conisbee, Philip Abbott, James Evans and Duncan Nelless, and public health nutritionist Gill Fine is joining as an independent member. All six incoming farmer members run sheep as part of their farming enterprises. Gill Fine is a former director of consumer choice and dietary health at the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The new appointees will take up their posts on 1st April.

NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (more content below):-


GET THAT SPADE OUT TO ASSESS WATER DAMAGE:We may not have seen much frost or snow this winter but the amount of rainfall certainly made up for it and shows again that we are living in changeable and uncertain times. But we’ve now had a couple of weeks of far drier weather, drying winds and even some sunshine, and the result is that we are seeing ewes and lambs being turned out and grass starting to move in some areas. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “Getting that grass moving is important, and considering the impact the wet weather may have had on soils equally important. All soils and regions will vary but getting that spade out and taking a look here and there to identify compaction and moisture below the surface should be the first thing that is done before we rush out with harrows, grass slitters and sub soilers. Before anything else, making sure soils are in optimum physical condition and ensuring the pH is within the right boundaries, is the best place to start.”
WARNING ABOUT CHEAP IMITATION BOTTLE TEATS: NSA has been contacted by Brian Hawes, Director of Paragon Rubber, who has become aware of a very poor and dangerous copy of the Pritchard Screw on Lamb Teat (pictured). Mr Hawes says: “Our product is made to a high standard with the nipple being made from latex and the bottle cap clearly marked as Pritchard Screw on Teat. The Chinese copy has no name on the cap and the nipple is made of very thin moulded synthetic rubber. It breaks very easily and our fear is that this may be swallowed by a lamb with disastrous effect. We wish to disassociate ourselves from this product and all resulting problems caused by it.”
FREE LAMENESS GUIDE AVAILABLE IN NORTHERN IRELAND: A newly developed sheep lameness guide is being offered for free to sheep farmers in Northern Ireland, thanks to AgriSearch, LMC and AFBI. The practical, pocket-sized publication helps producers diagnose the cause of lameness in sheep, identify treatment and prevention options, as well as follow best practice for foot bathing and foot trimming. Designed to fit in the pocket and stand up to use outside as you work with sheep, the ring-bound booklet combines photographs with bullet points on each possible cause of lameness. Email info@agrisearch.org for a free copy, call 02887 789770 or ask a CAFRE sheep advisor.
FARMERS ENTERPRISE COMPETITION TO RUN AGAIN IN 2014: Following the success of the 2013 competition, Menter a Busnes it looking for five teams of three Welsh farmers to compete against each other in producing a profitable pen of lambs grazed on a crop of their choice. This year’s location will be Bangor University’s farm (the Henfaes Research Centre in Abergwyngregyn) and contestants will work with 50 Welsh Mountain lambs each, brought straight down from the Carneddau mountain range to be managed on two-acre plots of lower lying land at Henfaes. Although the five selected teams will not have to deal with day-to-day husbandry they will have full responsibility over choosing crops to be established, managing them and implementing grazing strategies, plus all other elements of animal nutrition and health, and deciding when lambs are ready to be marketed. Teams will be judged by a panel of industry experts on their management skills and profitability of the lambs, with a top prize of an electronic tablet device each for the winners. Click here for an application form, which must be completed by 24th April 2014. Details from Gwawr Hughes on 01248 660075 or gwawr.hughes@menterabusnes.co.uk.
INVITATION TO EWE NUTRITION EVENT (WITH A SUBSIDY FOR ENGLISH LEVY PAYERS): Eblex has invited NSA members to an event it is running with the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) looking at improving ewe efficiency through better feeding. The event, held on Tuesday 19th April at Nottingham University, will look at traditional ewe wintering diets compared to grazing swedes, options for replacing soya bean meal in ewe diets and whether the currently held metabolisable protein requirements for ewes are correct. Speakers will include independent consultant Lesley Stubbings on the unknowns of nutrition, Poppy Frater of Elbex on all-grass wintering, Jenny Sneddon of Liverpool John Moores University on sheep grazing behaviour, Adas’s Kate Philips on nutrition and mastitis, and vet Harriet Fuller on selenium and iodine requirements. The event is open to all at a cost of £60, but is subsidised to £30 for Eblex levy payers. Register at www.bsas.org.uk/ewe-nutrition.
ALSO SUBSIDISED, is a workshop on the potential of genetics and genomics to livestock and crop breeding programme on Thursday 27th and Friday 29th March in Cambridge. Click here for more information about the Advanced Training Partnership workshop, which farmers can attend with a 60% bursary from the Government.
WELSH LAMB TRIUMPH IN SWEDEN: A new supermarket opening on the Swedish-Norwegian border in April will stock nothing but PGI Welsh Lamb, following a successful trade mission by HCC (Meat Promotion Wales). The deal, which is tied up with Swedish importer Farskvaruhuset, will see in excess of 150 tonnes of Welsh Lamb per year supplied to this supermarket alone, including retail and vacuum packed chilled products and 1,000 whole carcases every six to eight weeks to suffice the demand of Norwegians across the border. Farskvaruhuset also plan to take four to six tonnes per month of retails packed Welsh Lamb for another Swedish supermarket chain with up to 400 stores. HCC says Scandinavia has opened its borders to Welsh red meat as a result of its PGI credentials, which guarantees authenticity, provenance and quality and can only be applied to sheep and cattle born and raised in Wales and slaughtered in approved abattoirs.
ROLE OF CAP IN THE WIDER ECONOMY HIGHLIGHTED: While the value of agriculture to the economy is frequently overlooked in the UK, it was the main focus at a CAP conference held in Seville, Spain, on Tuesday (18th March) organised by Asaja and Copa-Cogeca (Spanish and cross-European farming organisations respectively). Speakers acknowledged the positive role of agriculture in the economic crisis and the crucial role CAP played in facilitating it, which is being ignored in the current CAP reform. While there was much discussion about ways for farmers to mitigate falling CAP payments, there was also a powerful example of the need to communicate the importance of CAP to consumers. Asaja has been running a communication campaign called ‘The new CAP: future for farmers, future for society’, which included city farm events in Spain and Portugal attracting over 300,000 visitors. The campaign will also hold an event in the European Parliament in Brussels next week to portray positive images of agriculture and show the crucial role farmers play in providing quality, healthy food and environmental services, maintaining rural areas, for society, thanks to the CAP. Hopefully this will raise the profile of agriculture with MEPs who misunderstand the role of CAP.
OFFICE FURNITURE, FREE TO A GOOD HOME: NSA is in the process of finding a new tenant for empty office space at The Sheep Centre, Malvern, and has been advised to clear out all our old office furniture. We have amassed a considerable number of desks, tables and metal filing cabinets which we would prefer to re-home than throw away. If you would like any office furniture or know a business in the Worcestershire area that might be able to use them, please call 01684 892661 or email enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk. All the furniture is free, but you will need to collect it.
SEARCH FOR SOMERSET FARMERS TO HELP WITH SHEEP BEHAVIOUR STUDY: NSA has been contacted by Destiny Bradley, an agricultural student at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, who is looking for anyone lambing indoors in a large under-stocked shed in the Somerset area with around 200-300 ewes (commercial white, Mule/Suffolk varieties) who wouldn't mind marking 20 in-lamb ewes of variable ages. Destiny is aware of how specific her request is but would welcome enquiries from anyone who thinks they might fit the criteria. She will then set up video cameras to measure the movements of the sheep to monitor their behaviour. Destiny says: “The study is already proving interesting, showing a high level of assisted lambing on the first two farms I monitored. My aim is to develop implements to encourage natural grazing behaviour within lambing sheds, which can be put into practice next season in the hope of achieving less assisted lambing and less stress to the ewe.” Contact Destiny on dezibradley87@gmail.com or 07784 648193.
FREE FEC KIT FOR FARMERS WHO PARTICIPATE IN WORMING PROJECT: Jeremy Fern from the veterinary research company Ridgeway Research is looking for sheep farmers interested in completing a survey linked to the development of a diagnostic tool and new methods to undertake faecal egg counts (FEC). Jeremy and his co-researchers at Bristol University hope the new tool will allow farmers to conduct quick, cheap and easy pen side faecal worm tests in order to decrease the use of wormers and the build up of potential resistance. The survey will find out what farmers would want from such a product and what their general worming practices are. Each person whom completes the survey will be sent a free FEC kit with full instructions and a stamp addressed envelope to return the sample at a time of their choosing. To volunteer to complete the survey please contact Jeremy on 01594 530809 or jeremy@ridgewayscience.co.uk.
HOST FARMERS SOUGHT FOR VISITING KIWIS – THEY’RE WILLING TO WORK AND THEY CAN SHEAR! NSA has been approached by Hugh Abbiss and Sam Hodsell, two 21-year-old agricultural students from New Zealand planning a farming tour of the UK this May. They’re hoping to take in as much of England, Wales and Scotland as they can between Tuesday 6th May and Sunday 18th May and would like to see the country via livestock farms, offering work in return for a visit. “Ideally 24 hours at each farm is about what we are looking for, maybe less depending on what suits,” says Hugh. “We’re definitely prepared to lend a hand in return for a bed and are both qualified sheep shearers. Our main priority is visiting farms, so at the expense of sightseeing if needs be.” Hugh and Sam both have extensive on-farm experience and can be contacted via Hugh’s email address – hughabbiss@windowslive.com.

NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (diary of events below): 



  • MONDAY 26TH MAY: NSA NI SHEEPDOG SALE:Held in conjunction with Norbrook Closamectin in Ballymena Market.
  • SHEEP EVENT:NSA SCOT SHEEP: WEDNESDAY 4TH JUNE 2014: At the Berwickshire farm of Quixwood, Grantshouse, courtesy of the Macfarlane family. Details and sponsorship packages from Euan Emslie on 01430 441870 or euan@appliedremedies.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 9TH JUNE: NSA MARCHES REGION COMMITTEE MEETING:7pm at the Lower House Farm, Cannon Frome, Ledbury, HR8 2TG. All NSA Marches Region members are welcome, not just committee members.
  • WEDNESDAY 11TH JUNE: NSA EASTERN REGION FARM WALK: At Ickworth Park, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, by invitation of Paul Seabrook. To include the Eastern Region’s second Young Shepherds Competition of the year, subject to demand.
  • SHEEP EVENT: NSA SOUTH SHEEP:SATURDAY 28TH JUNE: Blackcap Farm, Firle, Lewes, East Sussex, by kind permission of Tony Monnington and family. Details and sponsorship packages from Bob Blanden on 01666 860308 or bob@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • SHEEP EVENT:NSA SHEEP EVENT: WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY 2014:  The Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire. Details and sponsorship packages from Helen Davies on 01938 590535, 07976 803066 or helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA WALES & BORDER EARLY RAM SALE:MONDAY 4TH AUGUST: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or jane@nsaramsales.co.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA SOUTH WEST REGION RAM SALE:WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST: Exeter Livestock Centre. Contact Sue Martyn on 01409 271385, 07967 512660 or suem@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST: Rugby Farmers Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or carroll@ceressolutions.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER: NSA MARCHES REGION COMMITTEE MEETING:7pm at the Lower House Farm, Cannon Frome, Ledbury, HR8 2TG. All NSA Marches Region members are welcome, not just committee members.
  • RAM SALE: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: FRIDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER: Melton Mowbray Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or carroll@ceressolutions.co.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA WALES & BORDER MAIN RAM SALE:MONDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or jane@nsaramsales.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 8TH DECEMBER: NSA MARCHES REGION COMMITTEE MEETING:7pm at the Lower House Farm, Cannon Frome, Ledbury, HR8 2TG. All NSA Marches Region members are welcome, not just committee members.


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