Plans are now well advanced for NSA SheepNI 2017, the biannual sheep event organised by the Northern Ireland Regional Committee of the National Sheep Association in Ballymena Livestock Mart on Monday, 3rd July.
This year’s event will see a number of successful attractions from previous events, including a commercial sheep stockjudging competition, being run in conjunction with the YFCU, and an open fleece competition, with support from the BWMB.
CAFRE, AFBI and Agrisearch as well as The Moredun Research Foundation will all be on hand to update farmers on the latest research work and advice.
Of course one of the main draws to the event is always the display of sheep by the various breed societies and clubs. As usual visitors will have the opportunity to see and compare a wide range of breeds and crosses of both terminal and maternal breeds, suitable for both hill and lowland production at what will be the most extensive show of sheep breeds on the island of Ireland this year.
An excellent entry of trade stands is also expected, with examples of just about everything the sheep farmer could need, from vet products and medicines to handling equipment, and trace elements.
The Seminar Area is likely to be busy as organisers have talks on Sheep Health and Antibiotic Microbial Resistance (AMR), Update on Brexit, Focus areas for survival in sheep with Justin McCarthy IFJ editor and Phelim O’Neill, a markets specialist who graduated in law and has spent most of his career in the meat industry already confirmed as speakers.
The Next Generation Young Shepherd of the Year competition will take place this year and offers shepherds under the age of 26 the opportunity, not only to win a cash prize of £300, but also the chance to represent Northern Ireland at UK and European level, with all expenses paid trips to compete.
Winners at NSA SheepNI 2015 Russell Smyth and Iain Wilson represented Northern Ireland in UK Finals & European Finals at Malvern when they came second in The European Team Award and Iain was 1st overall in the Under 21 section.
The competition will take a new format this year with contestants choosing five of the following six tasks:
- Sheep shearing
- Prime lamb selection
- Sheep management quiz
- Veterinary and handling tasks
- Quad bike handling
- Ewe Body condition score
Entry is free and there is a special prize for the best competitor under 18 to encourage entrants.
Of course no sheep event would be complete without the ever popular sale of working sheepdogs and puppies, which will be held as usual in a field adjacent to the mart, kindly loaned by John Anderson.
All in all then a day not to be missed by sheep farmers and their families, or anyone interested in sheep and their part in rural life, as NSA regional development officer Edward Adamson said: “2017 holds a lot of unknowns for all farmers as we move towards significant changes in how we will receive support payments and the new agreements to be made on imports and exports. NSA have put together a programme which we hope will help prepare sheep farmers for the way ahead.”
Trade applications could still be accepted and those interested should contact Edward Adamson immediately on firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 07711 071 290.