Facing up to future challenges

Concerned about the future of the sheep industry? Unsure how to tackle the challenges facing the industry and how to make the best of any available opportunities?

Whether you answer yes or no to these questions there is no doubt that attending the Farmers Weekly NSA Seminars at the Sheep Event, Malvern on 2 August will be of interest and value to your business.

The highlight of the day will undoubtedly be the midday session featuring two leading sheep farmers in the form of Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year 2005, Marcus Maxwell, and Nick Davies, head shepherd at Downton Estate, Shropshire.

Both Marcus and Nick will outline their vision for the future of the sheep sector, addressing both the challenges and opportunities they believe are facing the sector over the next decade.

With both farmers running markedly different systems – one a low input, easier care and the other higher input and more intensive – there is no doubt their views are sure to cover most of the industry and provide a thought provoking and challenging view of the future.

Having developed a flock of 2000 New Zealand Romneys on his Dumfries unit, Marcus has emerged as one of the leading figures in easier care sheep in the UK and firmly believes the UK sheep industry must adapt to survive.

Meanwhile, Nick, who manages 2500 North Country Mule ewes, believes there is still a place for more intensive lowland sheep enterprises, so long as they are managed efficiently.

Issues likely to be tackled in the session include encouraging young people into sheep farming, improving flock efficiency and electronic identification.

Delegates at the session will then have their chance to quiz both speakers and put forward their own views.

And, in a unique twist to this session, Farmers Weekly will then use the main points emerging as the basis for an interview with Food and Farming minister Jeff Rooker, as we seek DEFRA’s views on the industry’s future.

Anyone unable to attend the event can email their questions for Lord Rooker to jonathan.long@rbi.co.uk (or visit www.fwi.co.uk).

Other sessions in the seminar programme include an export seminar which will focus on the opportunities available to sheep breeders and lamb processors.

And of particular interest will be the Moredun Health Seminar, with speakers focusing on a range of topical health issues, including contagious ovine digital dermatitis and worm control.

With many farms now experiencing resistance to at least one category of wormer, effective worm control is essential. Key to modern worm control strategies is ensuring animals are treated only when necessary and are treated with the correct product for the problem.


  Farmers Weekly Seminar timetable 
 10am  Potential export markets. Chaired by Charles Abel, technical editor, Farmers Weekly. Speakers: Henry Lewis, British Livestock Consortium; JP Garnier, MLC export manager. With case studies provided by Mike Adams
10:45 Official event opening
12 noon Ewe Fertility and the role of Trace Elements, Lorna Masson, Agri-Lloyd
12.30pm The UK Sheep Industry: Challenges and Opportunities. Chaired by Jonathan Long, Livestock editor, Farmers Weekly. Speakers: Marcus Maxwell, Dumfries and Nick Davies, Shropshire
1pm Question time. Chaired by David Raine. Panel including: Caroline Drummond, LEAF; Richard Ali, EBLEX; Peter Morris, NSA; Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president
2-2.30pm Marketing Forum. Chaired by Jonathan Barber. Panel including: Andrew Garvey, EBLEX; Stewart Pope, HCC; Laurent Vernet, QMS; John Mabb, Meat New Zealand
3-3.45pm Moredun Sheep Health Issues. Chaired by Julie Fitzpatrick. Speakers: Willie Donachie – Controlling footrot/CODD; Bob Coop – Effective worm control
4pm Sheepdip issues. Environment Agency’s Bob Merriman

  Where and When
   Sheep 2006 takes place at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern on 2 August. Admission costs 10 for adults, with concessions available to students and NSA and TCAS members on production of a membership card. Children under 16 enter free.

  Pedigree Viewing 
   Anyone interested in pedigree sheep may wish to make their trip to Worcestershire for the Sheep Event a two-day one, as John Sinnett will be opening the gates of Stockton Court allowing visitors the chance to view the Stockton flocks of Suffolks and Texels.
On top of this, Mr Sinnett will use the afternoon to outline his vision for the future of the UK sheep industry. This will include his belief that the UK sheep industry needs to change radically to be competitive in the world market.
Part of this vision is the belief that in future farmers will be shareholders in the processing companies they supply. “Flocks are likely to be about 2000-3000 ewes in size and most will rear and finish their own lambs.
“And trading is likely to change, too, with auction markets likely to disappear and be replaced with collection centres. Prices are probably best set at the beginning of the year on a forward contract-type arrangement, with a single price paid all year round,” he adds.
Admittance to Stockton Court is by ticket only, anyone wanting to attend should contact Julie Sedgewick to register 01388 664496 or juliesedgewick@btinternet.com