Wednesday, 8 October 2014

England victorious in World Young Shepherds' Finals

This week we have invited EBLEX Better Return Programme manager, Katie Brian, to write a guest blog about the World Young Shepherds’ Finals which she attended with the England team. EBLEX supports the contest because ensuring there are skilled young people entering the sheep industry is essential to its sustainability.

Consumers can rest calm in the knowledge that high-quality, well-reared local lamb is promised for years to come, following the success of the next generation of English shepherds at an international competition which took place in France recently.

England took top prize in both the team and senior individual sections of the World Young Shepherds’ Challenge, which saw 31 young hopefuls from 16 nations battle it out in tasks such as sorting ewes, ewe body condition scoring, assessing lambs for slaughter, identifying sheep breeds, handling, quad bike driving and a written theory test.
I was there on behalf of EBLEX to support the home-grown talent and make sure the youngsters who were representing their countries got the most out of the competition.

Our boys did their country proud. Not only did England’s Sam Bullingham scoop the top prize in the individual competition, but England also won the team prize with Richard Carter and Sam together sharing the spoils.
Sam, left, with Richard Carter

The contest itself was the highlight of a week-long study tour, which included visits to a number of working agricultural colleges, farms and a slaughterhouse, an international conference about the renewal of generations of sheep farmers, and an interesting and educational visit to Rayon de Roquefort, a cheese making area that was the home of a sheep farm which focused on milk production.

To keep the young shepherds entertained when not competing or learning about the French sheep industry, a sports-activity visit to the Regional Park of Volcanoes of Auvergne was had. The World Young Shepherds’ Finals was an excellent opportunity for young farmers from around the world to network, compare methods and showcase their skills. Winner Sam, of Okehampton, Devon, said “It has been great meeting people from around the world and learning how they farm sheep. Hopefully winning the competition will lead to great things in the future.”

And with three of the home nation teams being placed in the top five, the future of our sheep industry certainly seems to be in good hands.

Team placings

1st, England;

2nd, Northern Ireland;

3rd, France;

4th, Wales;

5th, Republic of Ireland

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