NSA Weekly Update 4th April 2014

By Suffolk Sheep Society 7th April, 2014

Latest news from National Sheep Assoc.

NSA Members' Weekly Email Update
Friday 4th April 2014

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NSA STEPS UP ACTIVITY ON SHEEP WORRYING:Thank you to the 590 sheep farmers who filled in the NSA surveycollecting information on sheep worrying incidents on UK farms. This has given us an incredible set of data to help promote the issue in the non-agricultural press and we will be issuing a series of press releases over the coming weeks using some of the stats. This started this morning with a campaign in Farmers Guardian, including the front page story, and a joint NSA and Farmers Guardian press release going to a large number of regional and national newspapers, media channels and dog magazines. NSA is also very proud to present a new area of the NSA website – www.nationalsheep.org.uk/dog-ownerswhich went live today to provide information and advice for dog owners on how to enjoy the countryside with a dog responsibly, including summaries of the law on sheep worrying and top tips for training your dog. There is advice for farmers too, including legal information and tips on what to do if your sheep is worried. You can also read about the findings from the recent survey, and a reminder of what the 2012/13 questionnaire revealed; click here to go straight to the survey page. The new website address is printed on the latest batch of NSA yellow signs for farm gates, which are now FINALLY on their way to NSA Head Office. If you’re not already on the waiting list for the signs please email enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk, preferably with your membership number.
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT BLOWS CALLS FOR RE-WILDING OUT OF THE WATER: The recent calls by George Monbiot and friends to ‘re-wild’ upland areas of the UK appeared rather feeble this week against the publication of a report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 230 leading climate scientists. The report draws a clear line connecting climate change to food scarcity and conflict, with Chairman Rajendra Pachauri saying the world has to ‘adapt and mitigate’ to avoid disaster. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “The IPCC report means we have the evidence needed to ensure our hills and uplands maintain their capability to contribute to food security. This means keeping the people with the knowledge and experience in place and giving them the incentives to step up their productivity and play their part in optimising land use. Who knows what will happen over future decades and how extreme some of these changes in weather may be, but it seems to me that if we lose some of the productivity of our lowlands due to flooding, and that drought becomes another serious limiting factor, then our uplands with their higher rainfall pattern will be crucial to us for food security.  It doesn’t have to be either food production or the environment – we have to achieve the optimum balance of the two on all our land.”
Looking specifically to the uplands in Wales, where NSA is urging the Welsh Government to designate land above the moorland line as Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) and implement an associated payment scheme, Phil says the alternative of just £20/ha under the Basic Payment Scheme will ‘do nothing to keep this land within its productive potential’. John Staley, an NSA member farming near Llangorse, Powys, echoes this. He says: “I have been saying for some time that there are real risks with land designations and agri-environment schemes driving sheep numbers downwards and even removing the potential to increase them again after an agreement has ended. The IPCC report just supports my view that we need to be careful not to tie farmers down with legislation and schemes that stop them doing what they do best.”
NO-GO FOR COUPLED PAYMENTS IN SCOTLAND BUT GREEN LIGHT FOR MINIMUM ACTIVITY: Having gone from no coupled payment for sheep farmers in Scotland to the possibility of having them, this week it became clear that the additional 5% of coupled money will now definitely not be available for use within the sheep sector. George Milne, NSA Scottish Regional Development Officer, says: “Therefore we will have to fall back on the originally suggested mechanism to allocate farm payments to different land types and split the rough grazing using land classification and/or livestock densities, if permitted by the EU. It also transpired this week that the minimum activity clause, which will see inactive farmers being exempt from any future payments, would appear to have received the green light from Brussels.”
WHAT SIZE WILL THE 2014 LAMB CROP BE? With lambing finished for some and well underway or about to start for others, NSA is getting questions from the media about the size of the lamb crop. Predictably some of these queries appear to want to suggest that lamb numbers are down and ask what the impact on availability and prices will be. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “NSA speaks to a lot of sheep farmers, but even so it’s impossible to get anything more than a broad indication of the UK lamb crop. As always there are seasonal, regional, and farm differences. Overall, from people I’ve spoken to I would say that so far numbers may be back very slightly with many saying they may have had a few more singles (albeit strong ones). However, as the season has gone on there appear to be more lambs being born, so if the numbers are back at all then it is very marginal, and of course it’s not over yet. Also it’s not all about lambs born but more about lambs survived and sold, and this spring is seeing good strong lambs with kind weather conditions that I hope will continue.  Any ‘crisis’ suggested by the media should quickly be put to rest.”
FRUSTRATION AT PRIORITISATION OF FORESTRY OVER LIVESTOCK IN SCOTLAND: A report by SAC Consulting comparing forestry and hill farming in the 50,000-acre Eskdalemuir area of Dumfries and Galloway has promoted anger and frustration in the farming community with the suggestion that commercial forestry has a greater economic output and relies far less on public subsidy than sheep farming. George Milne, NSA Scottish Regional Development Officer, says: “I find it unbelievable that this report has appeared showing a completely one-sided option in favour of forestry, or that SAC did not consider asking the sheep industry for an input into the final outcome. It concludes that forestry generates a higher labour output, but does this account for the fact sheep farming requires a farmer and his family, and often a shepherd and his family, to live and work there all year round not just turn up in gangs to do the work as and when required by forestry? Families living in these situations all year round provide constant economic support to the local social fabric by way of supporting shops, schools and local businesses. This is not delivered by forestry and in most cases farmhouses become redundant or, at best, holiday homes used for a few weeks in the year. It is astonishing that having spent a year as a member of the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government to look at how best forestry could be integrated with sheep production going forward, that we now see a report published like this. There is no point in putting one sector against another; integration is the only sensible way forward. One of the clear images used to promote Scotch beef, lamb and whisky around the world is the image of our natural Scottish hillsides with livestock grazing them, not a large photo of a hillside covered in blanket afforestation.”
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, points to the irony of the report being publicised in the same week as the IPCC report (see above) makes it clear that one of our biggest challenges in the future will be to produce adequate food supplies in light of climate change, and at a time when the world population is growing faster than at any previous time in history. Phil says: “For the report to be interpreted as meaning we should lose tracts of valuable upland farmland to trees would be wrong and unnecessary at a time when our uplands may need to be relied on more, not less, for food production. The SAC report uses quite simplistic arguments that relate to a very complex subject, for instance even economic arguments will change if the dynamics of the food market shift and farm gate prices go up, and the financial and physical output of many upland farms would change dramatically if the right production signals were in place and incentives were not being paid to decrease production against environmental outcomes.”
HUGE APPETITE FOR SHEEP INFORMATION FROM REASEHEATH STUDENTS: Reaseheath College welcomed Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, to speak to a group of third year agricultural students on Thursday morning (3rd April). The session was initiated by Amy Champ, a Reaseheath student who was unable to attend on the day due to illness – we wish her well for the future. Around 40 students studying beef and sheep attended the two-hour session that covered an introduction to the NSA and an overview of the market and policy issues relating to sheep farming. Course leader and tutor Richard Wheeldon attended and kept order amongst a very enthusiastic and engaged group! Phil reports: “While Cheshire may not be known for its sheep farming it’s a big grass county and there are clearly many students with sheep interests locally, while Reaseheath is also attracting young people with sheep interests from across the country. This group was indicative of what I’m seeing elsewhere and it’s clear that there are not just more agricultural and sheep students but that the quality of those students is high. They are bright, forward-thinking and inquisitive, and like many of that age group, would like to see a future where entitlements and the Single Farm Payment are a thing of the past.”
CHANGE OF LOCATION FOR WELSH COMMITTEE MEETING: For NSA Cymru/Wales Committee Members planning to attend the meeting a week on Wednesday (16th April) please note that the meeting is at Hafod-y-Hendre on the Royal Welsh Showground NOT Neuadd Henllan.

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

NEMATODIRUS CASES ALREADY BEING SEEN: AHVLA has contacted NSA to say its regional surveillance centres have already found Nematodirus Battus as the cause of deaths in young lambs this year. This means some farms are already experiencing a significant number of larvae on pastures and mass hatches big enough to kills lambs prior to eggs being seen in the faeces. Depending on the weather, nematodirus is normally common in April, May and early June, usually affecting 6-12-week-old lambs but sometimes hitting younger lambs too. As it did last year, SCOPS will host a map on its website showing areas of the country where conditions favour nematodirus hatches. This will be available soon at www.scops.org.uk. Please consult your vet or animal health advisor about treating lambs for nematodirus, and remember products will kills worms at the point of treatment but do not have persistent activity, so repeat doses may be required in some circumstances.
The April edition of SAC Consulting’s Sheep and Beef News provides a useful reminder about the impact of nematodirus from Heather Stevenson of SAC Consulting Veterinary Services. The main points to remember are:-

  • Nematodirus infection causes scour and death in lambs. Losses can be high and surviving lambs suffer a check in growth.
  • Nematodirus eggs require a period of cold weather followed by a rise in average temperatures to between 11⁰C and 17⁰C. This means that most eggs passed in lamb faeces during May/June will not hatch until the following spring and, when conditions are right, mass hatching of these eggs occurs.
  • Nematodirus eggs are capable of surviving for two years in soil so fields where lambs have scoured due to nematodirus will be contaminated with high numbers of eggs and should not be used for young lambs the following year. Avoiding grazing successive lamb crops on the same fields will reduce the risk of nematodirus outbreaks by preventing a year on year build-up of eggs.
  • Affected lambs look tucked up, don’t suck, have severe scour and may be found gathered around water troughs. Sudden deaths can occur without evidence of scour.
  • Where there is a nematodirus risk lambs can be dosed two or three times during the May/June period to try and prevent an outbreak. White drenches (1-BZ, benzimidazole products) are the treatment of choice in most cases, but ask your vet for advice on which product to use.
  • Nematodirus is a difficult worm to kill and drenching must be carried out accurately to avoid under-dosing. If scour continues after treatment collect faecal samples so the problem can be investigated.

SECOND SBV VACCINE HITS THE MARKET: Options for vaccinating sheep against Schmallenberg increased on Tuesday (1st April) with Merial Animal Health’s launch of SBVvax. As with MSD Animal Helath’s Bovilis SBV vaccine, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has granted SBVvax a provisional licence in order to get the product to market without many years of lengthy testing. Click here for information about the vaccine, including dosage rates and how it varies to the MSD vaccine. NSA applauds VMD’s efforts to streamline approval of these vaccines and will watch with interest to see if the arrival of a second vaccine in the market place introduces some competition on price.
ENHANCED GENETIC EVALUATIONS GIVE POLL DORSET AND DORSET HORNS A BOOST: A genetic review of how some performance parameters are calculated has revealed that Poll Dorset and Dorset Horn breeders have been making faster genetic progress then originally predicted. The Eblex-funded genetic review completed by Dr Kirsty Moore of SRUC has resulted in an enhancement of the EBVs calculated for Dorset sheep and, as a result, the maternal and terminal sire breeding indexes provided by Signer for breeders have been updated. Both indexes now focus on slightly faster-finishing breeding lines and the updated terminal sire index places greater emphasis on muscling within the carcase. Sam Boon, Eblex Breeding Specialists, says the enhancements will help commercial ram buyers make better breeding decisions when investing in performance-recorded rams. He adds: “In completing this work we have observed the tremendous genetic gains made across the recorded Dorset breed over the last decade. Breeders have made impressive increases in breeding potential for lamb growth rate and muscling, while simultaneously enhancing economically-important maternal characteristics such as milking ability and prolificacy.” The new results will be presented to ram buyers for the first time at Dorset sheep sales at Sedgemoor on 12th April and Exeter on 6th and 7th May.
APRIL FOOL! We enjoyed this April Fools joke on Tuesday in the Mirror about lambs having six legs. If only it were that simple to increase output by 50%! Click here to see the photo-shopped picture.
FREE OF CHARGE SHOOTING SERVICE ON OFFER IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND: NSA has been contacted by Sean Curtis of Cowplain, Portsmouth, Hampshire, who is looking for farmers willing to allow him to shoot on their land. Sean has been shooting for 15 years, is fully insured and licenced and willing to travel up to 40 minutes from Portsmouth to help farmers get on top of rabbit, pigeon, crow, fox and deer infestations. Sean asks that he keeps any rabbits shot but does not charge a fee as he is keen to find new shooting locations. He will also get together a team of shooters and travel further distances if someone has a major problem they would like tackling. Sean has a range of guns, mobile shooting stands and lamping equipment for night shooting. He is qualified to carry out risk assessments before shooting, has insurance up to £5m and a good working relationship with the local police. Contact Sean on 07870 984147 or thefarmerinn@live.co.uk.
SITUATION WANTED: Simon Prescott (26) is looking for a full or part-time position working with sheep and cattle anywhere in UK, although preferably in Wales. Simon has experience working with sheep, including indoor lambing, dosing and general sheep work. He says he is keen to learn new skills and further himself in the farming industry and that he is a hard worker. Simon also has experience working with cattle, as well as ATV, tractor and teleporter experience. Simon holds a full driving licence and an HGV1 licence. As he currently lives in Northern Ireland and may require accommodation. Contact Simon for references or more information on simonprescott1@hotmail.co.uk or 07513 472880.

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


  • THURSDAY 8TH MAY: NSA BREED SOCIETY FORUM:Open to all NSA-affiliated breed societies and association at Hafod a Hendre on the Royal Welsh Agricutural Showground. Email joanne@nationalsheep.org.uk for details.
  • WEDNESDAY 14TH - FRIDAY 16TH MAY: NSA SHEEP CENTRE AT BALMORAL SHOW: Come and see us at the show and visit the Sheep Centre marquee packed full of breed society and trade stands. To exhibit contact Edward Adamson on 07711 071290 or edward.adamson1@gmail.com.
  • MONDAY 26TH MAY: NSA NI SHEEPDOG SALE:Held in conjunction with Norbrook Closamectin in Ballymena Market.
  • SHEEP EVENT:WEDNESDAY 4TH JUNE 2014: NSA SCOT SHEEP: 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.
  • THURSDAY 19TH JUNE - SUNDAY 22ND JUNE: NSA SHEEP CENTRE AT THE ROYAL HIGHLAND SHOW: Come and see us at the show and visit the Sheep Centre marquee packed full of breed society and trade stands. To exhibit contact Euan Emslie on 01430 441870 or euan@appliedremedies.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 21ST JULY – THURSDAY 24TH JULY: NSA SHEEP CENTRE AT THE ROYAL WELSH SHOW: Come and see us at the show and visit the Sheep Centre packed full of breed society and trade stands. To exhibit contact Helen Davies on on 01938 590535, 07976 803066 or helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • SHEEP EVENT: SATURDAY 28TH JUNE: NSA SOUTH SHEEP: 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:WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY 2014:NSA SHEEP EVENT: The Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire. Details and sponsorship packages from Helen Davies on 01938 590535, 07976 803066 or helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • MONDAY 4TH AUGUST: NSA WALES & BORDER EARLY RAM SALE: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or jane@nsaramsales.co.uk.
  • WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST: NSA SOUTH WEST REGION RAM SALE: Exeter Livestock Centre. Contact Sue Martyn on 01409 271385, 07967 512660 or suem@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: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.
  • FRIDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: Melton Mowbray Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or carroll@ceressolutions.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER: NSA WALES & BORDER MAIN RAM SALE: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or jane@nsaramsales.co.uk.
  • WEDNESDAY 26TH NOVEMBER: SHEEP HEALTH AND WELFARE CONFERENCE: At Yarnfield Park Conference Centre, Yarnfield, Stone, Staffordshire, ST15 0NL. Booking accepted soon at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/shawg.
  • 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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