FARMING MATTERS: Young sheep farmers compete

Showing enthusiasm in abundance for the sheep sector, more than 40 young sheep farmers recently attended the National Sheep Association (NSA) Central Region Early Gathering and competed for a place in next year’s national finals of the Young Shepherd of the Year.

Saturday, 16th February 2019, 6:00 am
National Sheep Association Central Region Early Gathering

The main competition of the day was the NSA Next Generation event which saw 12 people aged 26 and under taking part.

The young shepherds had their knowledge and skills tested by completing tasks including shearing, lamb selection, ram MOT inspections, medicine administration, ATV handling and a written test of their knowledge of sheep husbandry and the UK sheep industry.

Facilitating the competition on behalf of NSA Central Region, James Bickerton, a college agricultural course leader, said the standard of skill on display throughout the contest was second to none.

He added: “For 12 shepherds to compete to such a high standard is a truly encouraging thing, showing the future of our UK sheep industry is in good hands.”

The top two young shepherds from the day, 24 year old Jack Charleton and 17 year old Harry Lyons, qualified for the national finals of the NSA Next Generation Shepherd competition to be held at the NSA Sheep Event in Worcestershire next year.

Jack, Harry and third placed James Freeman, 20, each took home a cheque from a total prize pot of £550, donated by the Texel Sheep Society.

Ailish Ross, youth development programme coordinator for the Texel Sheep Society, said: “Watching the competitors it was clear not only are they highly skilled, but they are also highly enthusiastic about working in the sheep industry.

“This was particularly encouraging and to see the dedication, skill and enthusiasm in these young people was tremendous.”

Also taking part in the day were six school teams who engaged in a range of sheep farming tasks such as foot trimming and condition scoring.

The average age of the competitors was just 15. The winning team was presented with prizes of educational resources on sheep farming and agriculture for the benefit of their school.