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NSA North Sheep search for their Next Generation Shepherd

Are You a Shepherd or Shepherdess of the Future?
Rob Walker – Next Generation Shepherd (Photo Tim Scrivener)

The National Sheep Association (NSA) have announced that applications are now open for the ‘Next Generation Shepherd Competition’. This will take place at NSA North Sheep 2019, at New Hall Farm, Rathmell, near Settle, North Yorkshire on Wednesday 5th June 2019.

This competition offers young, aspiring shepherds and shepherdesses the opportunity to demonstrate their shepherding skills in five areas. Sponsored by Carrs Billington, each entrant will be battling it out to take home a share of the competition’s £740 prize fund.

During North Sheep, all competitors will be expected to carry out two compulsory tasks and a choice of three optional tasks from the list of five.  The compulsory tasks are:

  • Give correct examples of foot care techniques/handling, vaccinating and dosing
  • Answer questions on flock management and health issues.

The choice from the optional task are:

  • Shear two sheep – entrant must have a BWMB Blue Seal, Certificate to be produced on the day.
  • Compete in the EBLEX Lamb Selection Competition.
  • Stock Judging – Judge and place two pens of sheep in the correct order.
  • ATV Handling – complete a set course.
  • Carrs Billington Feed Identification.

The 1st prize winner will be awarded with the Ali Johnson Perpetual Trophy, a £300 cash prize and will be invited to represent the NSA Northern Region at the UK finals, held at NSA Sheep, Malvern on 28th July 2020. 2nd place will receive £200, 3rd will be given £100, 4th £50, 5th £30, 6th £20 and 7th to 10th place will receive £10 each.

Commenting ahead of the competition, NSA Northern Regional Manager and Events Organiser, Heather Stoney-Grayshon, said: “The future of NSA lies with the younger generation and we know that there are so many across the north of England who have a considerable amount of talent. The Next Generation Shepherd Competition has been created, to test the knowledge and skill of each candidate and to support our future sheep farmers. We are expecting an extremely exciting competition this year and there some excellent prizes to be won.”

To be eligible for this competition, competitors must be a maximum age of 26 (on 28th July 2020) and must reside within the Northern Region, including Cumbria, Northumberland, County Durham, Lancashire, Isle of Man, and North and West Yorkshire.

Entries are now open and have a closing date of Monday 6th May 2019. A maximum of 20 entries can be accepted, and those successful 20 will be chosen based on the quality of their entry form and the information they have supplied.

The 2017 Winner of the Next Generation Shepherd Competition was 25-year-old Rob Walker, who farms at Brennand Farm, Clitheroe, Lancashire, and for him, winning was an ‘incredible accomplishment’, and it has greatly benefited his career:

“I had won the competition two years prior, so to be able to win it again and go through to the national event was a major achievement for me. To receive recognition for your hard work is great, and this award is something that cannot be taken away from you. It is a fantastic accolade to have on your CV.”

Robert then went on to compete at Malvern and in Paris for the European competition: “I came second in Paris in the European Competition. The competition and the way they handle sheep is very different compared with the UK. When moving the sheep, they pick up their back legs and move them like a wheelbarrow – it is a totally different style of sheep farming.”

For those looking to enter, Rob shares his advice to young shepherds: “All those who run the competition are extremely knowledgeable and industry leaders themselves, so even if you don’t win, there is a lot to learn from them. This competition gets you thinking outside the box and makes you think about why you do what you do. Go outside your comfort zone and enter the competition.”

Attracting within the region of over 8,000 visitors, NSA North Sheep has become one of the highlights of the sheep industry calendar. This biennial event provides a platform for people to visit the hundreds of exhibitions stands and hear from the industry experts. This year, NSA North Sheep will highlight how one farming family operates a hugely successful sheep farming enterprise in one of the wettest parts of the UK.

Although Rob won’t be competing this year, he is very much looking forward to the 2019 NSA North Sheep: “Since I have always been competing over the last couple of years, I am excited to have a proper look round this time. There is lots to see and lots to do – it is a good time to catch up with other people in the industry.”

Full competition rules and entry forms can be downloaded at www.northsheep.org.uk or for further information, please contact Heather Stoney-Grayshon at [email protected] or on 079666 99930.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) are an organisation that represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK and receive tremendous support from everyone connected with the industry. The NSA is funded by the memberships of its sheep farmers. Together with the many industry related activities it is involved with, it aims to ensure that it plays a key part n every aspect of the sheep farming sector.

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