Optimism was in the air at NSA Scotsheep 2010 which attracted an attendance of more than 6000 to Mains of Burnbank, Blairdrummond, Stirling, on Wednesday, June 2.
Breed societies and trade stands reported strong interest as sheep farmers looked to reinvest recent hard-won profits into improving their sheep farming enterprises.
“This year’s NSA Scotsheep has come along at just the right time as the buoyancy of the market and renewed confidence is encouraging sheep farmers to reinvest to improve efficiency and maximise returns from the market,” said Ally Logan, chairman of the organising committee.
“We are seeing a degree of confidence returning to the industry as a result of the welcome and long overdue improvement in profitability following years of poor returns, and this was evident at NSA Scotsheep.”
The biennial event is organised by the Scottish Region of the National Sheep Association with Bank of Scotland as major sponsor. The flocks of 1000 Blackface, Mule and Bluefaced ewes, and herd of 100 pedigree Limousin cattle, run by host farmers, Douglas and Lynda Graham, proved a major attractions for visitors from all over Scotland, the North of England and further afield who converged on the farm.
The tone was set by Gloucester sheep farmer, Adam Henson, presenter of BBC 1’s Countryfile, who opened the event with an appeal to farmers to start “singing from the rooftops” about farming’s success story.
“Farmers need to drop the barriers and let the public know what an amazing industry we have,” said Mr Henson, who has a commercial flock of 650 ewes as well as running the family-owned Cotswold Farm Park.
“You need to stand on a pedestal and tell them you are here and what you are doing. People are keen to know and we should be capitalising on this interest, especially in a world where the population is growing at an enormous rate and all the food we can produce is required. Farming has a bright future.”
Mr Henson said switching Countryfile from Sunday morning on BBC 2 to Friday evening on BBC 1 had seen viewing figures soar from two million to seven million. The recent Lambing Live programme from a Welsh sheep farm had also created tremendous interest. The BBC had been inundated with e-mails from viewers wanting to see more about sheep farming – warts and all – and a second programme was planned next year from a farm in Cumbria.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, expressed concern at the decline in the national sheep flock in Scotland and urged sheep farmers to make the best use of modern technology, improved genetics and marketing.
“The livestock sector is very important to Scotland and it’s not just about food,” said Mr Lochhead. “It’s the social and cultural contribution which cattle and sheep make to the economy and help to maintain the rural population, particularly in the hills and uplands.”
Mr Lochhead said he was committed to ensuring that Scotland’s livestock farmers had a sustainable future.
“Supermarkets tell us we have the best lamb in the world. We just have to let everyone know about it and get consumption increasing again,” he said.
Results of the various competitions were as follows –
Indoor – 1 Quality Meat Scotland; 2 Easyrams; 3 Agri Lloyd
Outdoor – 1 Prattley; 2 Reekie Group; 3 Galloway and McLeod
Breed societies – 1 Dalesbred; 2 Blackface; 3 Beltex
Sheepdog trials – 1 Duncan Robertson, Luss; 2 Ian Brownlie, Saline; 3 John Hastie, Saline.
Men – Bill Common, Lockerbie; women – Alicks Ramsey, Arbroath; 16-21 – Callum Littlejohn, Brechin.
Young shepherd – 1 Glen Wilson, Bonchester Bridge, Hawick; 2 Graeme Gordon, Ballindalloch; 3 Adam Hepburn, Hawick.
Under 21 – 1 Neville Nelson, Turnberry; 2 and 3 Jim and Cameron Pate, Galashiels
Senior – 1 and overall, Robert Patrick, Balfron; 2 John Duncan; 3 Iain Nimmo.
Women – 1 Katreen Millar, Lochend, Denny; 2 (equ) Jean Paton and Kirsty Norton, Stirling
In addition to Bank of Scotland as major sponsor, the mainline sponsors of NSA Scotsheep 2010 were Agri-Lloyd International, Caledonian Marts, Intervet Schering-Plough, Morrisons, Quality Meat Scotland, Rumenco, Shearwell Data and Sheep Traceability EID Research Pilot with Carrs Billington, Davidsons Animal Feeds, Green Power Developments, Harrison and Hetherington, John Swan and Scotbeef as national sponsors. Local sponsors included Bayer Animal Health, JG Animal Health, Norbrook, Solway Recycling and Ventus Green Energy.
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