Challenging! That’s the view organisers of the NSA Wales and Border Ram Sale are taking of this year’s progress. And the message to sheep producers is to remain flexible, updated with the latest Blue Tongue and other news, and ready to think on your feet!
Blue Tongue and other considerations mean that the sale has had to be split. The main sale, traditionally the largest in Europe with a turnover in the region of £2 million, will now take place in the permanent buildings at the Royal Welsh Showground on Monday 15th September and Saturday 20th September.
Texels, Charollais, and Suffolks are among nineteen lowland breeds to go under the hammer in the first sale. Hill breeds and Texel ram lambs and females will be offered in the second.
"We’re having to respond quickly to change in a challenging new environment", says Secretary Jane Smith. "We’ve had to move into the permanent buildings in order to remain flexible, following last year’s changes brought on by the foot and mouth outbreak.
"We’re assuming that the venue will be in the Protection Zone by September, but we can’t be sure. We have to try and anticipate different scenarios and be ready to adapt. It’s not easy when you’re trying to organise seven or eight thousand sheep and their owners!
"I’d ask vendors and buyers to help themselves by vaccinating for Blue Tongue, and updating with the news regularly posted on the DEFRA, Welsh Assembly Government, NSA and other web sites. It’s also important to research the market.
"Producers expecting to sell into Scotland and Ireland and for export will have to have their sheep vaccinated by a vet. And of course if you or the sale is in a Protection Zone then sheep have to be vaccinated 60 days beforehand if they are to move into a clean zone. If the deadline is too tight, it’s 35 days under the supervision of a vet, followed by a blood test".
Organisers accept that flockmasters are facing very real difficulties and expense, but are doing their utmost to ensure a strong and vibrant market. They’re conscious that the sale is crucial to the viability of so many hill farms and to the economy of rural Wales.
The closing date for entries for the main sale, sponsored by Symtag, Ketchum and Dectomax, is 23 July 2008. Up to date advice is available on the following web sites or from your local union office.
NSA Sheep 2008 Seminars and Forums
New Zealand Suffolk Open Day
National Suffolk Sheep Sale Postponed