WE continue our look at the future of the show circuit - the young handlers!

With the 2021 show season once again falling foul of Covid, and most summer shows once again not taking place, we’ve asked the individual show societies to nominate a young handler or two, for us to speak to, and get their outlook on shows, and the wider industry. After all, they are the future.

Read more: Young handlers - Kerry Smith, Fettercairn show

Running in a similar order to the show calendar, we’re looking forward to hearing what the next generation have to say...

Can we have a bit of background about you and your family? Do you live on a farm?

My name is John Duncan, I am 10 and I live with my mum, Vicky, across the road from my Gran and Papa at Burnfoot Farm.

How did you get into showing livestock? Is it something you have always been involved in?

It really started with me watching my Papa and mum showing and selling sheep. I have been going to shows and markets with them since I was born, so it seemed natural to start helping and taking part.

When it comes to stock, what are your favourite breeds?

Blue Texels and Blackface sheep would definitely be my first picks. Blackies were the original breed I learned about and Blue Texels are a more recent interest.

What is it that stands out to you about those breeds? What qualities do you feel that they have, compared to other breeds?

The Blue Texels are friendly and are also nice, and impressive to look at. They are a breed that are full of muscle, which is a big thing these days, and they also have nice coats and I like the halter marking on their faces.

The Blackies I have had all my life, so they will always be important to me. My family are all involved with Blackies. They are a hardy breed, and they are also smart to look at, too.

The Blackies are a strong breed and the ewes are very good mothers, which is a very important trait. They are one of the hardiest sheep breeds in the country. Their horns make them easier to catch and hold sometimes, too.

They are two different breeds, but I really like them both for their own qualities.

What was the first show you ever went to? What is your favourite show?

The Royal Highland Show was the first show I ever went to, but I can't remember it – I was only four weeks old!

My favourite show is definitely Muirkirk show.

What is your favourite thing about showing livestock?

My favourite thing about showing is holding the sheep, and sometimes being lucky enough to win some rosettes. I also really like helping getting the sheep ready before a show – that is a very important bit.

What has been your show biggest success, so far?

My best show win would have to be Muirkirk show, just a few weeks ago, where I was placed champion in the Any Other Breed sheep section with my Blue Texel gimmer. That was a great day – I was really glad it was one of the few shows to happen this summer.

Have you had any disappointments in your show career?

There are always going to be disappointments in showing, but I just try to forget about them and move on to the next thing.

Who would you say you look up to in showing? What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

I definitely look up to my Papa, because he always has time for me and is always willing to help me and show me ways of doing things.

The best piece of advice I have been given is to buy more Blue Texels! Haha.

I have also always been told to always look at the judge when showing, so I definitely try and concentrate and do that.

Do you help out on the farm at home?

Yes, I always help out when there’s sheep work to do. I enjoy working the shedding gate when we're doing things like that.

What are your hobbies or interests outwith farming and showing?

I play rugby for Ayr. I really enjoy it, and it is great for keeping fit and strong, and for meeting new friends.

Do you have plans for the future? Do they feature agriculture?

Yes, my main plan just now is that I would like to increase the numbers in my Blue Texel flock. I would also like to be a professional rugby player, so it would be ideal to combine the two. I am hoping to always be involved with sheep farming.

Do you have any tips or advice for other young people trying to get into showing?

I would just tell someone who wants to show, to give it your best shot, make sure you prepare your sheep beforehand and enjoy every minute.

Read more: The Currie family are no strangers to the show ring