ALL SET FOR NSA CENTRAL REGION WINTER FAIR: With less than week to go before the NSA Central Region Winter Fair it is all systems go for the event on Thursday 29th January 2015 at Bakewell Mart, Derbyshire. You can find everything you need to know about the event here and download an Event Guide here. Commenting ahead of the event, Alastair Sneddon, senior partner for NSA Central Region Winter Fair hosts Bagshaws, says. “Farmers need to do all they can to protect their businesses from the factors over which they have no control. Essential to any defence is the latest knowledge, and I am confident that a day spent at the NSA Central Region Winter Fair will stand you in good stead and provide an essential transfusion of technical and political information.” Entry to the NSA Central Region Winter Fair is FREE for members. Spread the word, because if you bring along a friend or neighbour who is not currently an NSA member and they sign up on the day they will get their entry fee refunded and you BOTH get entered into the prize draw to win a Shearwell EID stick reader kit.
NSA NEXT GENERATION AMBASSADOR GROUP 2015 CONFIRMED: This week saw the end of a lengthy and difficult selection process for the 2015 NSA Next Generation Ambassador Group. Word had spread of the success of the programme last year and we were overwhelmed with top quality applications this time around, making it a tough job for NSA staff and regional committees to select just 12 people for the final group. All applicants have now been contacted to confirm if they have gained a place or not and we look forward to sharing the final line-up early next week.
NSA PROMOTES INTEGRAL ROLE OF UPLAND SHEEP FARMING AT RESEARCH FORUM: NSA had the opportunity to take part in an upland science workshop in Cardiff on Thursday, where researchers from across a wide range of disciplines (social science, soils, water and agriculture) met to discuss work being done and future needs for the hills and uplands of Wales. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, was invited to speak at the workshop about the future of livestock in the hills and uplands. He reports:“We know about the interconnectedness of farming, the environment, our natural resources and communities, and it was refreshing to see scientists and researchers covering all these areas come together. A common theme was the need for holistic research and the linking/integration of research programmes, for example connecting the work on poverty in Wales, or the management of peat soils, with work on the sustainable intensification of food production. While it was great to get to know about much of the work being done it was also clear that there is much we still don’t know and interestingly it was suggested that grip blocking in peat uplands in order to re-wet peat, in the expectation that it would decrease methane outputs, was actually showing an increase in methane outputs. I had the chance to make the case for how central livestock farming is to keeping the uplands the way that most of the public would wish to see them, and that sensitive and traditional farming in the uplands delivers multiple public benefits that still aren’t being taken account of. In my view there is much that can be done in the uplands to actually increase their contribution to food security whilst not just maintaining but improving our environment. Conversely there is evidence that past policies have not just reduced productivity but degraded some of our upland ecology at the same time.”
DISEASE ERADICATION PLANS UNDER DISCUSSION IN SCOTLAND: Attendance at this week’s Animal Health and Welfare stakeholder meeting in Edinburgh proved important, as it now looks like one or possibly two sheep diseases could be targeted by a joint industry and government group to look at a major reduction or eradiation plan, similar to what has been in progress on BVD in cattle across Scotland. George Milne, NSA Scottish Region Development Officer, attended the meeting and suggested the need to start looking at sheep diseases in order to identify one that could follow a similar scheme to that of BVD. The idea was welcomed by the Scottish Government and other stakeholders, and another meeting will be held in the near future when George will be able to share the views of NSA Scottish Region following discussions the next time they get together.
NEW COUNSELLOR TO BOOST TRADE OPPORTUNITIES WITH CHINA: A trip to China by UK Secretary of State Liz Truss has been followed up by the announcement of a new position – a UK Agricultural and Food Counsellor – to be based in China to further future trade opportunities. This is a big investment by the UK Government and our own levy money via AHDB, and for the first time will see an individual with responsibility to help British companies tap into China’s growing interest in products and speciality foods. The role has been filled by Karen Morgan, who currently leads Defra’s competitive farming team and will take up the new role in Beijing this spring. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, comments: “We very much welcome the creation of this new role and, from what I saw on my trip to China last year, it is an essential step if we are to take advantage of this growing market. We are still some way from securing direct access into China for sheep meat, and to have someone based there and working for us will undoubtedly help pave the way. It is a big investment but should be a use of levy funds that reaps rewards in due course.” You can read the announcement from Defra about the new position here.
BUSY TIME FOR RED TRACTOR ASSURANCE: Following information in last week’s NSA Weekly Update about a Red Tractor Assurance meeting in Devon next week, two more meetings in Yorkshire and Warwickshire have been planned. All three are open meetings starting at 6pm and providing opportunity to discuss recent changes to the assurance standards and a proposed move to whole life assurance for beef. Bryan Griffiths, NSA South West Regional Chairman, comments: “Following concerns raised by members over the revised Red Tractor Assurance standards introduced in the autumn of 2014, I approached the RTA and discussed the possibility of a meeting between senior members of RTA and West Country farmers. The concept has since been developed and expanded to include NFU and NBA, as well as NSA members. This is a great opportunity for farmers to convey their views on the future purpose and direction of farm assurance.” The three meetings are:-
Thursday 29th January at Padbrook Park Hotel, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 1RU.
Tuesday 3rd February at Skipton Livestock Market, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1UD.
Thursday 12th February at the Warwick Complex, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG.
Running alongside these Red Tractor Assurance meetings, RTA is also currently consulting on new standards for livestock markets and collection centres. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “NSA is working with a number of members with interests in these areas to ensure a response that reflects the experience of those involved. We accept that standards cannot stay still forever, but our fundamental position is that the requirements must be proportionate, avoid duplication and at a level that encourages participation.”
VITAL MEETING ON CARCASE SPLITTING PLANNED FOR FEBRUARY: NSA and NFU met this week to prepare for a jointly organised and delivered meeting to seek solutions to the problems caused by tooth eruption and carcase splitting. The meeting, to be held in early February, will involve livestock industry bodies, unions, Defra and the devolved administrations, Food Standards Agency, Chief Veterinary Officers and others. NSA will keep members informed as this important meeting takes place. The work follows the NSA’s TSE reportwhich was launched last year.
INTERNET TECHNOLOGY OVERCOMES BAD WEATHER! NSA members and supporters who attended the NSA Scottish Region annual dinner the other day will know that the two 2014 NSA Next Generation Ambassadors from Scottish were invited to speak at the event. Jennifer Craig from Lanarkshire spoke about the Ambassador Programme and how it had benefited her family business, but Andrew Prentice was preventing from travelling across from Iona when bad weather stopped the ferries. He instead sent a video message, which you can view on the NSA You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/user/natsheepassoc. The dinner followed the NSA Scottish Region AGM, where Sybil Macpherson and Ian Hepburn were elected for another term of office as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. Other office holders also remain in position.
CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS SOUGHT FOR WELSH UPLAND FORUM: The Welsh Government is seeking to appoint a chairperson and seven independent members to the Upland Forum for its fourth term (2015-2018). The Upland Forum was established in 2005 to advise the Welsh Government and National Assembly for Wales on issues that have an impact on the hills and uplands of Wales. Members are expected to serve voluntarily for at least four meetings a year and some additional events (travel expenses claimable), while the Chairman is paid £114 per day. Appointments will be made by Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food. Applications close on Tuesday 10th February; click here for more information.
RESEARCH SUGGESTS SOYA ALTERNATIVES: With sheep keepers looking for affordable sources of protein in the run-up to lambing, Eblex has shared results from a project it was involved with alongside HCC, Adas and Reaseheath College looking at alternative protein sources to soya. Liz Genever, Eblex Senior Livestock Scientist, reminds producers that rumen degradable protein (found in grass, hay, silage and green leafy brassicas) must be boosted with digestible undegradable protein in late pregnancy to provide ewes’ energy needs. While 3% of soya imported into the UK being fed to sheep, it is well used as a feed ingredient for in-lamb ewes, but Dr Genever says cheaper alternatives can offer the same levels of protein (see table). She comments: “There were no significant differences in animal performance between the diets. The soya-based diet was the most expensive and the diet based on wheat distillers dark grains was the cheapest, based on feed prices from January 2014. These diets were fed as TMR, and while not all producers have access to TMR facilities, some will have the opportunity to mix their own diets and could consider some changes. If diets are to be changed, help from a nutritionist is crucial and forage analysis should be carried out so feeds can be used to complement it.” Read more about the research findings here.
GLUCOSE SHORTAGE: NSA had heard from members that they are struggling to get hold of glucose products for treating hypothermic lambs and twin lamb disease in ewes. Some investigation suggests manufacturing problems in Europe are the cause and suppliers will have product back in stock in March. In the meantime, Paul Roger of the Sheep Veterinary Society says it is safe and legal to make your own and is providing a recipe that will be added to the NSA website soon.
SHEEP RUSTLING CONTINUES: The problem of sheep thefts was highlighted once again this week with an NSA member from Colwall, Worcestershire, reporting 75 ewes stolen from his field, possibly over some period of time. Please remain vigilant to thefts, do what you can to secure remote fields, and encourage neighbours to report sightings of livestock trailers at unusual times of the day.
SHEARING EFFORTS RECOGNISED: The 2014 BWMB/Lister Shearing Personality of the Year award has gone to Richard Jones of Corwen, Wales (pictured). The award is presented annually for the person who has promoted and encouraged others interested in shearing and who has gained the respect of the UK shearing industry. Richard represented Wales in the 2012 and 2014 World Shearing Championships and became the first Welshman to win an open show in New Zealand.
PRIZES FOR BLACKIE FINISHERS: The third annual competition for Blackface lambs finished in Southern Scotland and Northern England, held at Dunbia LLanybydder, Wales, saw the biggest entry so far – 132 lamb carcases from 22 consignors, bought by Dunbia for the Sainsbury’s Taste The Different range. The champion lamb came from the heavy class and was a 21kg U3L from W.A. Wilson & Co, Yarrow, Scottish Borders (pictured), and reserve a 19kg R3L carcase from Hugh Hamilton, Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway. Champion pair was two 18kg U3H lambs from Jim Walker, Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway.
CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE VALUE OF YOUR NSA MEMBERSHIP? NSA is looking for testimonials about why you are a part of NSA and what your value from your membership package. If you are willing to provide a comment that NSA can use in its membership recruitment activities then please email Charlotte Underwood at NSA Head Office – firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE TO NSA WELSH SHEEP EXHIBITORS: Helen Davies, NSA Welsh Sheep Event Organiser, says applications for trade stand space at the event close at the end of January. Breed societies and companies wishing to book space should do so now by contacting Helen on 01938 590535, 07976 803066 or email@example.com for an application form. Applications for NSA events later in the year close in due course and you will find contact details for all Event Organisers at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/events.
SCOTTISH FARMERS’ VIEWS SOUGHT ON WELFARE AT SLAUGHTER: Janie Orr, an honours student at the Royal Agricultural University, from the Scottish Borders, is asking NSA members in Scotland to share their views on welfare at slaughter. Click here for the short, anonymous survey.
THREE JOBS ON OFFER AT AHDB: Three very different roles are currently being advertised by AHDB to support the English beef and lamb sector. One position is for a Senior Analyst in the market intelligence department, a role that involves researching, analysing, interpreting and clearly communicating relevant information. Those familiar with the team at Eblex will know this was the role held by Paul Heyhoe until very recently. Applications close imminently for this position so anyone interested should act now. Applications for the other two positions are open for slightly longer. These are for a Breeding Advisor with the Signet Breeding Services team, responsible for recruiting and retaining clients, providing advice to develop genetic improvement programmes, and creating knowledge transfer material – and a Beef Scientist responsible for the delivery of a variety of industry-facing knowledge transfer activities and research and development projects.