2016-05-06   facebooktwitterrss

Sheep Breed Societies Come Together at Forum

With so many sheep breeds, crosses and composites in the UK, believed to be more than any other country in the world, an effective information network for the numerous breed societies is essential.

Each year the National Sheep Association (NSA) plays its part in this by organising a Breed Society Forum, holding the 2016 event on Thursday 5th May in Somerset and Devon.


All NSA-affiliated breed societies were invited to attend the one-day event, which was split into two halves. The morning session near Taunton, Somerset, saw six speakers provide updates on industry topics and encourage debate among the group. In the afternoon, a number of delegates went on to tour the pedigree breeding and commercial sheep enterprises ran by Philip Derryman and his family at Yarcombe, Devon.

Joanne Briggs, NSA Communications Manager, reports:
“There is a lot going on currently that sheep breed societies need to be aware of, particularly in terms of changing EU regulations and UK plans for a sheep gene bank. The forum was the perfect opportunity to discuss these, as well as share information on current industry trends and NSA activity.

“As does the regional structure that NSA operates in the UK, the NSA Breed Society Forum has an important role to play in the two-way communication flow between office holders and farmers. Be it the concerns of pedigree breeders or the challenges of commercial producers, being aware of what is happening on farms is essential to steer the direction of our activity on behalf of the sheep sector.”

The theme of the NSA Breed Society Forum 2016 was finding solutions to industry challenges, be they emerging diseases (such as bluetongue) or existing ones (such as maedi visna). Speakers from NSA, AHDB Beef & Lamb, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Rare Breed Survival Trust, SAC Consulting and the Farm Animal Genetic Resources Committee (FAnGR) covered a range of these and led the discussion among the group.

Mrs Briggs continues:
“Sharing information is essential in tackling these challenges. We know pedigree breeders with high value stock, particularly those lambing early, are most likely to vaccinate against bluetongue – so gauging the likely uptake of vaccine was one of the topics we discussed with APHA.

SAC Consulting provided some eye-opening information on maedi visna, a disease increasing in incidence that can only be tackled by raising awareness among breeders and commercial producers. The forum was an enjoyable and important event to debate these topics at, and receive updates on current industry trends and NSA activity.”

NSA extends its thanks to all six speakers, and the Derryman family for their very generous hospitality in the afternoon. A more detailed note of the morning session, and copies of the powerpoint presentations, will be provided to NSA-affiliated breed societies shortly.

Breed societies represented were: Bleu du Maine Sheep Society, Bluefaced Leicester Sheep Breeders Association, British Charollais Sheep Society, Devon & Cornwall Longwool Flockbook Association, Dorset Down Sheep Breeders Association, Dorset Horn & Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders, Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders Association, Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association, Jacob Sheep Society, Kerry Hill Flock Book Society, Lleyn Sheep Society, North Country Cheviot Sheep Society, Romney Sheep Breeders Society, Ryeland Flock Book Society, Sheep Improved Genetics, Shetland Sheep Society, Southdown Sheep Society, Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association, Texel Sheep Society, White Face Dartmoor Sheep Breeders Association and Zwartbles Sheep Association.


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