What to look out for at the NSA Sheep Event 2018

With the agricultural industry, particularly the sheep sector, at a crossroads, the National Sheep Association’s leading event, NSA Sheep 2018, will focus on “thriving in an uncertain future”.

The event, which is being held on Wednesday, 18 July at Three Counties Showground, will showcase the very best of the industry and provide knowledge and information for producers looking to fine-tune their sheep enterprise.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, explains: “Uncertainty around support payments and market opportunities in a post-Brexit world remain a huge concern for the sheep sector, and as a result, producers are being encouraged to grab every opportunity available.”

See also: The farm diversification which trains dogs to stop sheep worrying

“We’ll be joined by leading sheep industry experts, along with more than 250 trade stands, and there’s a packed programme of free technical seminars, demonstrations and workshops being held to provide information and support in preparation for the changes that are undoubtedly on the horizon.”

Speaking at one of the day’s seminars is Defra’s Robin Manning. He says: “With the UK’s departure from the EU next March, it’s good to take stock of what we in the UK will need to do to establish ourselves as an independent trading nation determining its own agricultural policies.

“On behalf of Defra’s farming team, I aim to explain what Defra is doing to prepare for Brexit and for life after Brexit, with particular emphasis on the sheep sector.”

Farmers Weekly Farmer Focus writer and Hertfordshire sheep breeder Rob Hodgkins will also be on hand to explain how he has used technology to optimise breed performance.

“We’re facing uncertainty as a sector, and always appear to be one step behind other parts of the industry when it comes to using information on farm. However, there are numerous cost-effective adaptations that farmers can use to help produce lamb more efficiently, which I aim to outline at the event.”

Sheep Event facts

  • When: Wednesday 18 July 2018
  • Where: Three Counties Showground, Malvern
  • Cost: Free entry to NSA members, £15 to non-NSA members

You can find more information and book tickets on the NSA website. 

Farm tours

Following its success two years ago, the NSA will again also be running farm tours the day before the event (Tuesday, 17 July), which will include visits to two leading sheep farms.

“The farm tours proved a popular addition to the event in 2016 and we have two excellent farms involved this year. It provides an opportunity to showcase what’s possible on ‘real-life’ sheep farms and demonstrates that innovations aren’t just for farm trials,” says Mr Stocker.

Sam Jones and Paulha Whitaker will be hosting the tours and will provide an insight into how they’re future-proofing their businesses.

Mr Jones runs 1,200 ewes at his 205ha farm in Redditch. He reduced ewe numbers from 2,000 10 years ago, allowing attention to detail in areas such as lameness control, lambing management and reduced antibiotics use.

Clear business goals and a frequent review of targets have allowed him to achieve 5% gains in profitability across all parts of the farm business.

Paulha and Martin Whitaker farm a 225ha organic tenant farm in Gloucestershire. They run 370 ewes comprising mainly Mules. In the 2017-18 season they introduced Vendeen genetics to produce hardy progeny that kill out well and they are focusing on increasing margins.

Seminar timetables



Chairman and speakers

9.45am & 12.35pm

Workshop (area A)

The future of shepherding in the UK

NSA communications team joined by NSA Next Generation ambassadors 2018


9.45am & 1.05pm

Workshop (area B) Boosting Flock Health

Nick Canning, Strathclyde Nutrition


Opening ceremony


10.35am & 1.25pm


Workshop (area A)

Sustainable worm control – maximising profitability

Elanco Animal Health

10.35am & 1.55pm

Workshop (area B)

Responsible antibiotics use – reducing costs and improving farm output

Red Tractor Assurance and Tim Bebbington, Castle Veterinary Group


Thriving in an uncertain future for the international sheepmeat trade


John Fyall, Aberdeenshire sheep farmers and NSA Scottish region chairman

Speaking on EU trade deals and progress in non-EU countries: Robin Manning, Defra Future Farming and Land Use team

Speaking on the impacts for the UK industry: Phil Bicknell, AHDB Market Intelligence

Speaking on turning uncertainties into opportunities: Mike Gooding, director at Farmers Fresh

11.15am & 2.45pm

Workshop (area B)

Stamp out lameness

Fiona Lovatt and Phillipa Page, Flock Health, supported by MSD Animal Health


Press briefing

Press launch – Woodland Trust and NSA

11.45am & 2.15pm

Workshop (area A)

The role of trees in sheep farming

The Woodland Trust


Workshop (area B)

Sheep scab – new challenges and new opportunities

Lesley Stubbings, Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (Scops)


Recognition of public goods to ensure a thriving future for farmers, sheep and the environment


Bryan Griffiths, Devon sheep farmers and NSA chairman

Speaking on the NSA’s position on the future of farm support: Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive

Speaking on policy developments and what the Agriculture Bill is telling us: Jeremy Moody, CAAV secretary and adviser

Speaking on health and welfare priorities, how farmers should be incentivised to deliver them: Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer, England


Making the most of technology to drive thriving farm businesses

Kevin Harrison, Gloucestershire sheep farmers and NSA English Committee Chairman

Speaking on a new direction for traceability and animal ID:  Simon Hall, Defra Livestock Information Team

Speaking on using information to optimise breed performance:  Rob Hodgkins, Hertfordshire sheep breeder

Speaking on practical innovation in health diagnostics: Fiona Lovatt, Sheep Vet at Flock Health

Speaking on soil and its role in grass efficiency and sheep health: Elizabeth Stockdale, Niab soil scientist


Domestic market opportunities for a thriving future


Eddie Eastham, Cumbrian sheep farmer and NSA UK Policy and Technical Committee chairman

Speaking on understanding the halal market: Rizvan Khalid, Euro Quality Lamb senior director and AHDB Beef & Lamb board member

Speaking on a description of lamb trade via supermarkets:  Will Atkinson, retail account manager, Randall Parker

Speaking on product development & increasing lamb consumption as a convenience food: Richard Baldwyn, business owner at Lower Clopton Farm Shop, Warwickshire