WELSH MOVEMENTS DATABASE TO BE DELAYED: Helen Davies, NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer, attended a Livestock Identification Advisory Group meeting this to hear the news that the new electronic sheep movement database in Wales is unlikely to go live on its target date of 1st January 2015. Helen reports: “This is perhaps not surprising, given that no decisions have yet been made on implementing the new system, but it is disappointing that England and Wales will move to very different systems from January.” The Welsh Government says the delay has been caused by ministerial changes and it will not be making an announcement on the future of the non-EID slaughter tag in Wales yet either. That means that while English farmers will not be allowed to use non-EID slaughter tags from 1st January, their use in Wales will continue for the time being at least.
NZ AND UK TO WORK TOGETHER ON DEVELOPING EXPORT MARKET? Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, spend Monday evening in the company of the New Zealand High Commissioner Sir Lockwood Smith, the NZ trade envoy Mike Peterson, and Chair of Beef and Lamb NZ James Parsons, along with representatives of farming organisations, processors and retailers, where a public offer and challenge was put to the audience for the UK to work in greater collaboration with NZ to optimise the supply of lamb to the newer ‘global markets’ of Asia, making the most of seasonal production and carcass balance. James Parsons gave an inspiring overview of the NZ attitude of finding solutions rather than getting bogged down with problems (necessitated partly by the sudden loss of farming support some 14 years ago) with a great simple and practical example of telling his young sons not to tell their Dad they are thirsty but to go and get some water! Joint promotional projects certainly optimise funding and it is exciting to hear of a pan-European deal this week – see below.
EBLEX ANNOUNCE £6M PAN-EUROPEAN PROMOTION: Eblex has announced a €7.7 million (£6.17m) campaign promoting lamb to consumers across six European countries. The project is a joint initiative with the French and Irish organisations Interbev and Bord Bia, and has received 50% funding from the European Union. Eblex, Board Bia and Interbev will each contribute €1.5 million to the scheme and the EU will provide the other half of the total pot. The campaign will target the 25 to 45 age group across England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark. These nations have been chosen as markets with ‘significant potential’. The initiative aims to curb a decline in lamb consumption and production through online promotion, in-store merchandising, incentives for butchers and print advertising. Eblex estimates the fall of both consumption and production in the UK at about 25% since 2000. Find out more here.
REINVIGORATION FOR MUTTON: Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, was a guest of HRH The Prince of Wales at Highgrove House on Monday for the coming together of the Mutton Renaissance Club. He reports: “Mutton Renaissance is one of Prince Charles’ campaigns so we met at Highgrove and then the Duchy Home Farm. The meeting was very significant because we are ready to kick-start a new level of energy and activity into the area of mutton development. NSA has been awarded some funding from Eblex, HCC and LMC to carry out a programme of work including to promote and make mutton more readily available and to help on the production and processing side through case studies and costings. We are pleased to be working with Bob Kennard, the author of a recent book ‘Much Ado about Mutton’, to deliver this work that will continue the involvement of the existing Mutton Club and the valuable partnership with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.” More information will be shared with members soon.
HCC TAKING THE LEAD ON ANIMAL HEALTH SCHEME: Regular readers of the NSA Weekly Email Update will know that NSA has been campaigning for RDP funding (Pillar Two) to be utilised for animal health schemes in nations of the UK. The Welsh Government expressed enthusiasm for such a scheme some time ago and HCC is overseeing the project already. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, and Helen Davies, NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer, met with HCC this week to discuss current activity and what is planned longer term. HCC has already recruited sheep keepers to carry out faecal egg count reduction tests (as promoted in this newsletter) and will be using this as a method to establish levels of wormer resistance. The next stage is working with farmers with high quality farm health plans who can identify a clear health issue that than be tackled and lessons learnt from it. The meeting with HCC also provided opportunity to feed into the Welsh red meat strategy before HCC puts it out to consultation early next year.
CONGRATULATIONS TO FARMERS GUARDIAN AWARD WINNERS: Catherine Nakielny (pictured), NSA Cymru/Wales Committee Member and NSA UK Policy and Technical Representative, was highly commended in the ‘Sheep Innovator of the Year’ section at the Farmers Guardian ‘British Farming Awards’ last night. It was good to see several NSA members scattered through many of the award categories, in the family farms, new entrant and students sections, so many congratulations to all of them too. Winners in all sections can be found here.
VIEWS SOUGHT ON SOLAR PANEL ANNOUNCEMENT: Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss has announced that single farm payments are to be cut on fields used for solar and PV energy production from January 2015, in a move to ‘safeguard the future’ of UK farmland. This follows the Department for Communities and Local Government amending planning rules earlier this year to ensure land that could be used for farming is not used for solar installations. The justification for this is mainly around the recognition of the importance of farming and food production – and it is certainly positive to see the Government acknowledging this – but is also linked to the perceived negative visual impact of large scale installations. There are currently some 250 field based installations in England with the biggest covering 100 hectares. NSA is led to believe that the lack of clarity in this area means most farmers with solar areas do not claim single farm payment on those areas anyway, but we are still interested to hear from members on the topic. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, continues: “Sheep are uniquely affected by this decision, because many field-based solar installations are also grazed by sheep. Field based solar panels are a contentious issue and with the double public funded incentives of feed in tariffs and the single payment on means it seems reasonable to make these changes. However with sheep there is the argument that the fields are still being used for farming and food production – and maybe that should be the deciding factor of whether fields are eligible for the single payment or not. I’d be keen to hear from members affected or interested in this topic.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views.
SHEEP BREEDERS WANTED FOR GENETICS SURVEY: NSA is encouraging all individual sheep breeders and NSA-affiliated breed societies to complete a survey about the genetic improvement in the UK. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, explains: “Genetic improvements in the British sheep flock are undoubtedly a major way to improve productivity and efficiency, irrespective of the breeds and the types of farms involved. Whether those traits are muscling, fat depth, growth rates, ability to thrive on varying forage types, ability to resist disease or parasites, selecting from the best and avoiding the worst is something that sheep breeders have always done although often without the tools to make fast and objective decisions. On behalf of Eblex, NZ consultancy AbacusBio has been appointed to research the way we go about genetic improvements here in Britain. Please complete the survey at http://beefsheepsurvey.com/ to feed into this work, which is likely to influence heavily the services and tools on offer to assist with genetic improvements in our sheep flock.”
CONDITION SCORE AT TUPPING KEY TO WEANING WEIGHTS: Eblex is reminding farmers that good ewe body condition at tupping is key to improving scanning percentages and weaning weights. Eblex’s Nerys Wright recommends target body condition scores (BCS) at tupping of 3.5 for lowland flocks, 3 for upland flocks and 2.5 for hill flocks. Although the advice suggests improving the condition of ewes between weaning and tupping, it also offers some ideas for adjusting BCS in the autumn. Ms Wright says: “Supplementary feeding could be considered to boost thin ewes which are below their target. When supplements are given, they must be continued throughout the tupping period and for three weeks after removing rams to avoid sudden dietary changes at a crucial time.” Ewes more than 0.5 over their ideal BCS should not be starved, but should not be allowed to gain condition. Read the full advice here.
WORRYING VICTIMS COLLECT GIFT SHEEP: Last week you read about Tony Morris, an NSA member who was offering six of his own small Kerry Hill flock free of charge to the victims of a sheep worrying incident. Del Knowles and Daryl Brown’s own Kerry Hill ewes were decimated by a savage dog attack earlier this month. The two Kent-based breeders have taken Mr Morris up on his offer, and Mr Morris (right) handed over the sheep to Mr Knowles (second right) and Mr Brown (far left) on Sunday. Read more here.
SEE YOU AT AGRI-EXPO! NSA is attending Borderway Agri-Expo next Friday and invites members to come along and say hello through the day and find out more about the 3in1 feeder prize draw. The sixth and final feeder will be given away before the end of year and, if you’re not in the draw yet, all you need to do is recommend a friend or neighbour to sign up as an NSA member. More at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/draw.
STARTING YOUNG IN SHEEP! Many thanks to NSA member Matthew Green for sending this picture of his 15-month-old son Thomas. “This isn't a setup; my wife caught him with it open on this page!” says Matthew.
WORK EXPERIENCE WANTED: Tanja van Heugten (21) is looking for two months’ work experience at a dairy sheep farm anywhere in the UK. Tanja is a Dutch student in her third year of an Animal Husbandry & Animal Care course at the HAS University of Applied Sciences. She is looking to gain more experience working with sheep, and would also like to carry out a small research project on a management aspect of the farmer’s choice during her placement. Tanja has completed a work placement on a dairy sheep farm in the Netherlands, has experience with dairy cattle and farm machinery and holds a Dutch driving licence. She would require accommodation. Contact Tanja on email@example.com or +31657 942387.
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