All go for new Co Armagh sheep enterprise, thanks to NSA giveaway

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It’s all systems go for NSA member William Abraham, after receiving news that he is the 10th winner in a monthly draw for an EID stick reader kit.

A new entrant to sheep farming this year, William plans to make full use of the reader, adding it will be an ‘extremely handy tool’ in the future.

NSA teamed up with Shearwell Data at the beginning of the year to give away an EID stick reader kit every month. The winners are chosen at random from those who sign up to become NSA members, as well as existing members who have recommended someone to join.

William farms alongside his family in Birches, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. With 15 years beef farming experience and a successful beef finishing enterprise, he has been considering an expansion into sheep for a while. He says: “I became an NSA member in July to learn more about sheep, as I was a new entrant into the sector and have been reading NSA’s publications over the past few weeks. Edward Adamson, NSA Northern Ireland Region Development Officer, has been a great help with advice and encouragement in starting up a sheep flock.

“After some research, I have recently purchased 20 Bluefaced Leicester Mule hoggets, known for their easy-lambing ability, which I’ll put to the ram to produce my first crop of lambs. My two young sons, John and David, are very interested in the sheep and keen to get involved with lambing.”

William, who is set to benefit this year from the Northern Ireland young farmers’ scheme, a ‘top-up’ to DARD’s Basic Payment Scheme for young people within the industry who meet the criteria, continues: “With the good season of weather we have been getting, I’ve been able to put the sheep onto the grass at present, while the beef cattle have just begun to come into housing for winter. Hopefully an update to the Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme, coming out in 2016/17, will incorporate our new sheep recruits well, and with some of our ground coming under semi-natural low input status, we hope the Mules will be well suited.

“The Shearwell stick reader kit has come at a good time for us, as we’re starting out with sheep and are getting geared up to expand the flock. Although it is new to me, a tool to scan all ear-tags and keep electronic records of all sheep details will be extremely handy. It should also prove useful for batch movements of sheep to sales or for housing records. I’m thinking of putting electronic ear tags in the cattle as well, so the reader will prove useful across both enterprises.”

NSA is giving away a total of 12 readers between 1st December 2014 and 30th November 2015. Full terms and conditions and membership application forms at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/draw.