2015-06-05 facebooktwitterrss

Focus on Challenges and Opportunities at NSA North Sheep 2015

Attracting in the region of 10,000 visitors, The National Sheep Association’s northern biennial one day event at Millstone Moor Farm, Cockermouth focused on the Challenges and Opportunities for the Sheep Farming Industry.

The hosts were Neil and Sally Marston, noted for the quality of their Bluefaced Leicesters and North of England Mule sheep. Representing the diversity of sheep genetics in the UK were 46 breed societies stands representing all sectors of the sheep industry were 220 trade stands from across the UK. As the day progressed the sun raised its head, allowing visitors to enjoy the event, held in Cumbria for the first time in 10 years.

North Sheep Farm Tour

During his official opening speech Tim Davies, CEO of Carrs Billington, Mainline sponsor said: ‘Carrs has worked with farmers for 180 years and at the heart of our business is UK farmers. Sheep farmers are inextricably linked to our business and this is the best event for us to demonstrate our commitment to the industry. We would like to thank Neil and Sally for their support as customers of ours and for hosting such a wonderful event.”

Prior to presenting the NSA George Hedley Memorial Award to David Croston M.B.E for his services to the sheep industry, the Duke of Montrose President of the National Sheep Association said:

NSA North Sheep 2015 is a showcase for science and innovation to help people move their flocks forward.’

Also thanked for his support was John Geldard, former Chair of the National Sheep Association, who was presented with a handmade walking stick.

North Sheep hosted the 2015 Young Shepherd of the Year contest, sponsored by Newton Rigg and Askham Bryan Colleges. Open to all young persons who reside in the Northern Region, aged up to 26 years. All competitors completed the EBLEX lamb selection round, sheared two sheep, completed a set course to demonstrate ATV Handling, gave examples of correct foot care techniques, and handling, vaccinating & dosing ewes, as well as being able to answer questions on flock management and health issues.

Robert Walker

Robert Walker

The winner was 21 year old Robert Walker from Brennand Farm near Clitheroe, who received £300, plus the Ali Johnson Perpetual Trophy. The runner up was Matthew Emmet from Wythop Hall Farm near Cockermouth with third place going to William Emmerson of Weardale. Robert will now go on to represent the NSA Northern Region at the UK finals to be held at NSA Sheep 2016 in Malvern.

Speaking afterwards Robert said, ‘This is a prestigious award, and given there were so many good shepherds in the competition, I am both amazed and absolutely delighted to win.’

North Sheep also hosted an exciting and challenging Team Sheep Shearing competition, sponsored by British Wool Marketing Board and held by Mark Fox and the Lakeland Shearers. The format this year pitted teams of two from Northumberland, Co Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire, Isle of Man, North and East Yorkshire. David Gillette, of Highway Shearing, kindly provided the machines. Judge Harry Relph was left with a tricky decision but, the winners were Yorkshire, with Northumberland in second place and Cumbria in third.

NSA North Sheep also acts as an industry forum. Speaking during the day, Chairman of the National Sheep Association Northern Region Greg Dalton said: “NSA North Sheep is a long established event which supports the industry at a time when varying amounts of volatility due to currency and other factors is affecting farmers. The event is a great opportunity for people to see exactly what the NSA are doing to support of the industry and to talk to representatives and officials at the highest levels.”

Julie Sedgewick, the organiser of the event, added: “We absolutely delighted that the sun shone and with the high number of visitors. It is a real pleasure to bring the show to Cumbria, for the first time in ten years. This is one of the most famous sheep producing areas in the UK. People were able to get together to discuss issues and what makes for successful farming. The seminars throughout the day also focused on key areas in the industry.”

During these seminars, famers were informed about “CAP and Countryside Stewardship” by Will Cockbain, Natural England, David Morley, H&H Environmental Adviser, and Alan Alderson, Farmer and Swaledale Breeder. “Sheep Health Issues” were presented by Philip Skuce of Moredun, on Fluke; Stewart Burgess of Moredun, on Scab, and Joe Henry of Alnorthumbria Vets, on farm and regional Scab strategies. Finally Phil Stocker, NSA CEO; Norman Bagley, AIMS; Tom Hind, Head of Agriculture for Tesco; and Rizvan Khalid of Euro Quality Lambs, on Exports presented their “Outlook for the sheep industry: visions for the future”.

Main sponsors Carrs Billington who at the forefront of innovation in the supply of products and services had a busy day talking to clients old and new. Other companies used the occasion to launch new products from their Trade Stands: Agrimin launched Agrimin 24.7 Smartrace lamb, Nettex introduced their Sheep Conditioning Drench, Rumenco brought their new product Clean Sweep, and Bedmax launched Stockmax, a bespoke bedding for livestock.

Another first for North Sheep this year was the sale of Award-winning Tup semen by auction, in aid of the #StayStrongStu campaign. Host farmer Neil Marston and his fellow breeders donated the Tup semen from two Bluefaced Leicesters to raise funds for this exceptional and popular cause. The first two doses came from Bluefaced Leicester Tup - F1 Oakhouse, owned by syndicate Neil Marston, Martyn Archer of Carry Hose and Ron and Fran Wilson of Low Tipples. It was bought for £1200 by Neil Lang. The second two doses were from the 2014 Royal Highland Show Male Champion, G1 Highberries Highlander, a Bluefaced Leicester Tup, owned by Neil Marston and Martyn Archer. Also bought by Neil Lang, it was purchased for £1600. The sale raised £2800 for the campaign which supports the 25 year-old farmer and rugby player, Stu Ridley from Tynedale, who has an inoperable brain tumour.

On a more light-hearted note, the “Ready Steady COOK!” event challenged sheep experts to actually cook a well finished meal using lamb they produce. Guided by Barbara Huddart, former professional cook, the event was won by Andrew Wright of Mitchells Auctions

Prizes were awarded to the best stands at the event, with best sheep stand being awarded to the Herdwick Sheep Society, runner up was The Rough Fell Sheep and third place went to The Bluefaced Leicesters. The best indoor stand went to Carrs Billington, with North West Auctions picking up second place and Mitchells Auction Centre in third place. Best outdoor stand went to Paul Chuter, second place was awarded to JS Hubbuck and third to Mole Valley Farmers.

The Herdwick Sheep Society Stand

The Herdwick Sheep Society won the best breed society stand

The Marstons, which includes parents Raymond and Frances, have been at Millstone Moor Farm since 2008 and are well-known in sheep breeding circles. They hold the record for the highest priced animals ever sold at Mitchell's Market in Cockermouth, with the champion and reserve champions at the Bluefaced Leicester sales selling for £8,000 each last year. So a without a doubt a key part of the day for so many were the trailer tours of the Marston’s 650 acre Lakeland farm, home to the North of England, Mule-producing, Highberries-Crossing-Blue-Faced Leicester flock.

At the end of a very busy and successful day Neil said: “It has been agreat honour to welcome this leading sheep event once again to Cumbria. The attendance and support has been phenomenal. I’d like to thank all of our friends, local farmers; NSA members and family who have helped make this event such a success.”

“We are of course also very grateful to all the sponsors, exhibitors and visitors.”


Related Links
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link Charity Hay and Silage Show Raises £5,660
link Northumberland County Show – A Great Day Out!
link Show Dates

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