Monday, 9 July 2012

A bright outlook despite the rain


Sheep farmers from across the UK congregated at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern last Wednesday (4 July) for Sheep 2012, the biggest event in the sheep industry calendar.

With continual rain turning the site into a mud bath, the weather would have been enough to dissuade many fair weather show-goers, however the farming community didn’t let it put them off and the show attracted a record turnout.

At the event we launched of our ‘Five Tonne Tup’ campaign, aimed at ensuring breeders produce rams that are fit for purpose and making commercial producers think about the performance they are getting from their rams. With our latest Business Pointers figures showing that the average producer is achieving 2.9 tonnes (liveweight) of lamb per year from each ram, and our calculations showing that producing a minimum of 5 tonnes per year is possible with the right management practices, there is definitely scope for the industry to improve.

Continuing with the breeding theme, we also demonstrated the new ultrasound scanner that our Signet Breeding Services team will soon be using to measure muscle and back fat in pedigree lambs, which you can see in action on the Farmers Weekly website.

Our vet’s corner also provided a talking point, with a quirky display including a selection of sheep’s feet illustrating various common foot problems, the infamous EBLEX rubber testicles to encourage sheep producers to MOT their rams, and some fluky livers providing the ‘yuck’ factor!

Added to this we also had specific areas dedicated to selecting lambs for slaughter and the work of our marketing team, as well as the Farm Shop Butchery Competition. It’s therefore no surprise that our stand was exceptionally busy all day, with producers coming to ask questions of our technical experts and find out more about our latest Better Returns Programme and marketing initiatives.

Away from the EBLEX stand, securing Government chief scientist John Beddington to open the event and share his thoughts on the industry’s sustainability in the big debate is a great illustration of the increasing prominence being given at the highest level to farming and food production.

Overall, it was really encouraging to be part of such an upbeat event and to feel that the industry has a really really future – roll on Sheep 2014!