Thousands of sheep farmers from all over the country will be descending on the Borders on Wednesday, June 4, for Scotland’s biennial national sheep event, NSA Scotsheep 2008, which is being held on a well-known Hawick sheep farm.
Organised by the Scottish Region of the National Sheep Association with Bank of Scotland Corporate as major sponsor, this year’s event will be held on the farm of Northhouse, Teviothead, Hawick, Roxburghshire, courtesy of host farmers, Ian and Katherine Hepburn and their sons, John, Adam and Gregor.
“Northhouse is a first class venue for NSA Scotsheep 2008 right in the heart of the Borders sheep country with easy access from north, south, east and west,” said Jack Clark, managing director of St Boswells auctioneers, John Swan Ltd, who is chairman of the local organising committee.
“The event is attracting tremendous support from sponsors, trade stand exhibitors and breed societies which will ensure an excellent day out for all those with an interest in the sheep industry.”
A total of 153 trade stands have been booked for the event and no fewer than 41 sheep breed societies will be mounting demonstrations of their breeds.
“Sheep farmers will find plenty to see and do on the day so the message must be to get there early,” said Mr Clark. “Members of the committee have put a great deal of work and effort into organising a comprehensive and varied programme which will be of interest to all sheep farmers. It will be a great day out for anyone with an interest in the sheep industry.”
The event would also provide an unrivalled opportunity to promote the Borders as one of the principal sources of breeding stock for sheep farmers throughout the UK.
Mr Clark said the resurgence of the sheep market this spring would bring renewed confidence to producers who would be looking to NSA Scotsheep 2008 to provide all the latest technical and marketing information to help them run a successful and profitable sheep enterprise, as well as the opportunity to view a well-run Borders sheep farm.
“The sheep market has made a welcome and long overdue recovery with hoggs realising £70 - £80 a head this spring and the market for new season lamb getting off to a good start,” said Mr Clark. “This has given the whole industry a lift and store lamb producers can look forward to the autumn sales with a greater degree of confidence.”
Highlight of NSA Scotsheep 2008 will be the farm tour which will give visitors the opportunity of viewing the 1607 acres hill and upland farm with its flock of 1850 ewes – 950 Lairg-type North Country Cheviots, 820 Cheviot Mules and small flocks of pedigree Suffolk and Texel – and 130 beef suckler cows. Most lambs are finished on the farm and calves sold store at 15-18 months of age, apart from replacement breeding stock which are all home-bred.
The event will be open to the public from 9.00am and the official opening by the Duke of Buccleuch – the landlord of the farm – will take place at 10.30am followed by the keynote address from Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Development, Richard Lochhead.
“Mr Lochhead has been very supportive of the livestock industry in Scotland since his appointment last May and we are delighted he is taking time to visit NSA Scotsheep and meet sheep farmers on the ground,” said Mr Clark.
This will be followed by a short address from John Taylor, director of agriculture with Bank of Scotland Corporate, and a vote of thanks to be proposed by NSA Scotland chairman, Jim Thomson.
Following the official opening, four seminars on subjects of critical importance to sheep producers will be held at hourly intervals. Topics to be covered will include sheep health, CAP Health Check, the factors which influence prime lamb prices and easy care sheep management.
Speakers confirmed include Scotland’s chief vet, Prof Charles Milne, David Buxton, head of surveillance, Moredun Foundation, Peter Russell, director of the Scottish Government’s Rural Directorate, Sanquhar farmer, Jim Walker, past president of NFU Scotland and former chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, Dr Mike Tempest, author of the recent report on the prospects for the red meat industry in Northern Ireland, Yarrow sheep farmer, Norman Douglas, and Allan Burns, recently appointed chairman of Scotland Food and Drink.
The fourth seminar is being organised by Rumenco with SAC sheep specialist, Dr John Vipond, and Rumenco technical manager, David Thornton, as speakers.
An important element will be a major presentation on the Scottish Sheep Strategy which will feature demonstration sheep from the nearby sheep focus farm of Whitchesters, part of the Better Breeding Programme.
Other features which will keep visitors fully occupied throughout the day include a sheep dog trial organised by leading handler, Bobby Dalziel, on behalf of the International Sheepdog Society, a stockjudging competition sponsored by Norbrook, an ATV manoeuvring competition featuring Yamaha bikes and trailers organised by Borders College, and the Scottish elimination for the NSA Young Shepherd of the Year award, sponsored by auctioneers, Lawrie and Symington Ltd, Lanark.
Demonstrations of sheep shearing and dressing, feltmaking, wool spinning and crook making will also be of great interest.
More than 200 school children from seven local schools have accepted an invitation to attend and will be given a conducted tour of the event in a programme organised by the Royal Highland Educational Trust. Coach hire is being sponsored by J D Falla and Son, agricultural engineers, Bonchester Bridge. Pupils will take part in a quiz with the winning group receiving an all-expenses paid trip to the Royal Highland Show in June.
Electronic identification (EID) is a hot topic among sheep producers at the present time and a demonstration of the technology will be given by Shearwell Data and Allflex.
An innovation this year is a Farmers’ Market which will enable visitors to the event to source a variety of local produce and crafts and there will be a butchery demonstration.
“There will be something for everybody and we look forward to a large attendance of sheep producers from throughout the country,” said Mr Clark.
In addition to Bank of Scotland Corporate as major sponsor, the following sponsors have been confirmed –
Mainline sponsors – Agri-Lloyd International, Buccleuch Group, Intervet-Schering Plough, McCreath, Prentice and Prentice, John Swan Ltd, Quality Meat Scotland, Rumenco and Shearwell Data.
National sponsors – BOCM Pauls, Caltech, Carrs Billington Agriculture, Davidson Bros (Shotts) Ltd, Dunbia Llanybydder, Harrison and Hetherington Ltd, R H Miller, Novartis Animal Health, Scotbeef, United Auctions
Local sponsors – Border Machinery Ring, Bryce Suma Postdrivers, Cumberland and Dumfries-shire Farmers Mart, Farmstock, Harbro, Hexham and Northern Marts, Ritchey, Robinsons Scotland, Stewart Agricultural and Tagmaster.
Other sponsors supporting the event in various ways include Bear Scotland, Norbrook Laboratories, Portequip, Scottish Borders Art Glass, Adam Purves Mitsubishi and Solway Re-cycling.
Demonstration pens have been booked by the following sheep breed societies – Beltex, Blackface, Blue Du Maine, Bluefaced Leicester, Border Leicester, British Berricon Du Cher, British Dorper, British Rouge, Charollais, Cheviot, Dalesbred, Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset, Easy Care, Hampshire Down, Hebridean, Highlands and Islands Sheep Health, Highland Mule, Ile de France, Jacob, Lleyn, M P Butler Sheep Display, Meatlinc, National Sheep Association, North Country Cheviot, North of England Mule, Oxford Down, Rough Fell, Rissington Breedline, Scotch Mule, Shetland, Shropshire, Suffolk, Swaledale, Teeswater, Texel, Thomas Whiteford Sheep Display, Wensleydale Longwool, Welsh Mule, Wiltshire Horn and Zwartbles.
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