1200 visitors enjoy the sun at NSA South Sheep
Saturday, 28th June gave the NSA South East Region’s South Sheep Event perfect weather despite forecasts of rain which fell elsewhere. Our host, Tony Monnington, at Blackcap Farm, Firle near Lewes welcomed over 1200 people who enjoyed a very full programme and a good selection of trade stands covering all aspects of the sheep industry in a stunning location.
Seminars, farm tours, 30 breeds of sheep, 17 young shepherds competing in the Shepherd of the Future Competitions and a sheepdog trial with over 60 competitors gave much to occupy visitors. There was also a Celebration of Wool area with 35 entries in the fleece competitions, stands with various wool products , and an area with spinners and weavers who produced a shawl during the day from fleece to finish which raised £250 for the host’s chosen charity, Charlies Challenge. Light entertainment and education was provided by The Sheep Show which was enjoyed by everyone and the winning photographs from the competition were on show.
The Shepherd of the Future Open Competition sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers ended in a draw between Will Hinton and Alex Olphert. The Student Competition sponsored by Volac/Lammlac was won by Gussie Harmer from Plumpton College.
Randall Parker Foods provided butchery demonstrations by their head butcher, Ian Winstone, and highlighted carcasses that were suitable for different markets. RPF are major suppliers of lamb to Sainsbury’s whose Master Butcher, Julian Pursglove, was also present. There was a “Ready Welly Cook” fun competition. With heats between two lady vets, Louise Silk and Nanja Groeten from the local Cliffe Veterinary Practice, and two auctioneers, Elwyn Davies from Ashford Market and Nick Young from Hailsham Market, the final saw Nick take the title. All this was overseen by Andrew Brondon from Dunbia who also gave cooking demonstrations throughout the day.
Miriam Parker, sponsored by Eblex, was back with us to give handling workshops and advice on how to coerce sheep through handling systems. The farm tours left the handling and shearing demonstration areas to travel down to a field of Italian ryegrass that surprised visitors to its suitability for sheep. However the Monnington’s sheep were contently grazing it. Nick Pyle, a vet with the Cliffe Veterinary Practice, was on hand to explain his trial on wormer resistance that has been supported by Novartis. Returning to the farm, tours finished by the 16 grass trial plots established and managed by Chris Davies of Agrifactors.
Seminar subjects covered the Importance of sheep in the South Downs with Richard Harding from Procam Rutherfords and Jeremy Burgess from South Down National Park which was particularly pertinent to the host’s farm. Sheep breeds in Britain – what has changed? with Dr. Geoff Pollott supported by author of “Counting Sheep” Philip Walling.
Olivia Midgley of Farmers Guardian spoke on their “Take the Lead” dog worrying campaign. Paul Heyhoe from Eblex gave an update and forecast for the sheep industry. Catherine Nakielny put over the message of “Having rams fit for purpose”. Mike Fontaine from The Moredun highlighted the threat of Caseous Lymphadenitis and what can be done about it. Finally our region’s two Young Ambassadors, Marie Prebble and James Hamilton, spoke of their involvement in the Ambassador programme and how they view the future.
This Event could not have taken place without all the support from our Sponsors, the Region’s Committee Members, local helpers and trade. We are most grateful to everyone who assisted and especially to Tony and his family for allowing us to hold South Sheep 2014 on their farm.
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