WITH the election the next day, much will be discussed and debated at this year’s National Sheep Association (NSA) North Sheep event, being held at West Shields Farm, Tow Law, Co Durham, on Wednesday, June 7.
Through a number of informative seminars and workshops, this major farming industry event will focus on key issues such as what will farming be like when government environmental schemes end, and looking to the future for the current and next generation.
Attracting in the region of 8000 visitors, North Sheep will not only provide a platform for knowledge sharing with various industry professionals, it will also highlight how one progressive Co Durham farm operates their commercial sheep enterprise. 
Organised by the Northern Region of the NSA, this year’s event is being hosted by WH and J Smith and Sons, and takes place at West Shields Farm, just off the A68 at Tow Law, in Co Durham.
Seminars on the day include:

  •  ‘What happens when the schemes end?’ by Andrew Entwhistle, who will examine the statutory framework and some ‘what if’ scenarios, as well as advising what sheep farmers can do when the environmental schemes end.
  • Adrian Shepherd, head of land management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority; Patrick Buff, rural enterprise director for the National Trust; and Phil Stocker, NSA's chief executive, will discuss balancing farming and the environment.
  •  ‘Sheep meat exports post-Brexit’ will be debated by Rizvan Khalid, of Euro Quality Lamb; Norman Bagley, director of Aims; and Remin Fourrier, a French representative from AHDB Beef and Lamb.

Workshops held throughout the day will include demonstrations on how your wool is graded; foot rot vaccinations; sheep scab biosecurity; and the genetic change in New Zealand sheep based on Sheep Improvement data.
A major highlight of this year’s event is expected to be the first ever ‘Lamb festival’ which aims to celebrate the extremely high quality and diversity of British lamb. This interactive showcase, located in the main marquee, will highlight what today’s consumers are looking for when they are buying lamb, and the types of dishes they are choosing to cook. 
Alongside this will be a range of demonstrations, including lamb dressing, butchery, barbecuing, soil fertility and sheepdog handling. 
‘Jimmy the Lamb Man’ will be demonstrating the different cuts of lamb and sizes of joints. He’s Jimmy Bell, a Northumberland farmer who sells his meat direct to the public through farmer’s markets.
Australian-born chef, Simon Hicks, head chef at the nearby multi-award winning Lord Crewe Arms Hotel will demonstrate alfresco ‘Lamb on the BBQ’. 
Alongside this, celebrity chef and Yorkshire farmer’s daughter, Steph Moon, will present a series of quick and easy dishes using mince and diced lamb which the whole family can enjoy.
Keen to support the next generation of sheep farmers, the ‘Next generation shepherd’ competition offers young people the chance to demonstrate their shepherding skills in five areas. 
Entrants will be required to carry out five tasks on the day, two of which are compulsory and the remaining three selected by the competitor from a list of optional tasks. 
The competition is being sponsored by Rumenco and Nettex, and undoubtedly all entrants will be hoping to take home a share of the £740 prize pot.
For those looking to start a career in sheep farming, some of the UK’s most pro-active young ambassadors will demonstrate how they began their own careers in the industry. 
This offers people – whether they are from a farming background or not – the chance to chat with similar minded individuals, make connections within the industry and gather advice on how to work towards their own aspirations.
There will also be an open stockjudging competition run by Butsfield Young Farmers Club. This is open to the general public and gives everyone the opportunity to test their skills by placing the different classes of sheep. 
In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to watch sheep shearers in action during the sheep shearing team challenge.
With more than 211 trade stands from all sectors of the industry, including 36 breed society stands, NSA North Sheep is gearing up to be a great business event where exhibitors can showcase what they have to offer.
Furthermore, visitors can see the latest industry developments and technology, and seek advice from industry professionals on ways to maximise the efficiency and profitability of their enterprises.