2013-04-01 xml
NSA Looking for Progressive Young Shepherds

At its biennial northern event, NSA North Sheep 2013, the National Sheep Association will be looking for the best young shepherd or shepherdess in the North.

The “NSA North Sheep Young Shepherd of the Year Award”, sponsored by Askham Bryan College, will be held on June 5th at Crimple Head Farm, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate. The winner will not only receive £300 prize money and the Ali Johnson Perpetual Trophy; they will go on to represent NSA Northern Region at the NSA Sheep 2014 finals in Malvern.

Alastair Graham

Winner of the 2011 competition,
Alastair Graham

This year’s competition is open to young people aged up to 26 years (on 30th July 2014) and aims to test key shepherding skills. All entrants will compete in a number of rounds including lamb selection, sheep shearing, stock judging, giving examples of correct foot care and handling techniques, vaccinating & dosage calculations and answering questions on flock management and health issues.

Winner of the 2011 competition Alastair Graham of Planefield Farm, Thropton in Northumberland went on to represent England in the new World Young Shepherd's competition in New Zealand. As someone who has benefitted hugely from winning this award, Alistair is keen to encourage other young shepherds to take part:

“I found out about the competition through Young Farmers and decided to enter. I had won various YFC stock judging competitions at county level, however this competition was much more challenging and included a number of tasks that required a great deal of skill and concentration. I would definitely recommend any young shepherd, who is keen to develop their knowledge, to enter as it really does take your shepherding career up to the next level.”

Alastair built up his own shepherding experience helping with the 320 ewes and 100 cattle on the family farm near Rothbury. After leaving school he set up his own agricultural contracting business working on sheep farms throughout Northumberland where he helps with a range of tasks including shearing and lorry and tractor driving.

“Of all the five rounds, shearing was my favourite part of the competition. Having successfully completed these rounds, I was fortunate to go on to represent the North at the UK finals in Malvern and then as part of the prize for winning to New Zealand. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and to compete against people from all over the world. During my visit I worked on a number of farms on the South Island and spent time travelling around the country.”

NSA North Sheep 2013 is hoping to attract over 7000 farming visitors and 230 trade stands from across the UK with organisers are already reporting a record number of applications. The Young Shepherd of the Year Award is particularly apt as this year the focus of the event is very firmly on the future of the Sheep Farming Industry.

Organiser Julie Sedgewick says, “We are delighted this year’s NSA North Sheep 2013 will be held in one of the UK’s most important sheep producing regions. At the same time we are acutely aware that the biggest long-term challenge which continues to face the industry is encouraging young people to become involved. The focus of this year’s event will be looking at how the British Sheep Industry can maximise opportunities for the next generation and the competition is designed to help equip tomorrow’s sheep keepers with the skills they need and give recognition to the skills they have acquired. I’d like to thank Yorkshire’s Askham Bryan College for sponsoring the event and for their continued commitment to training local young people in land based skills. “

In addition to the NSA North Sheep Young Shepherd of the Year Award, the event is a great forum and meeting place for the whole industry. There will be stock judging and shearing competitions, farm tours, a seminar programme including a special session on “Opportunities for New entrants”, a trade show and farmers market.

The closing date for entries is Monday 13th May and there will be a maximum of 20 entries. The full competition rules and an entry form can be downloaded at www.northsheep.org.uk or for further information please contact event organiser, Julie Sedgewick on 07836 773888.

NSA

   
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