SHEEP farmers will be in optimistic mood as they head for NSA Scotsheep 2018 at Kings Arms Farm, Ballantrae, Ayrshire, on Wednesday, May 30.
This year’s biennial national sheep event is being hosted by Robert and Caroline Dalrymple and long-time farm manager Andrew Maclean, and is expected to attract thousands of sheep farmers from throughout Scotland, the north of England and Ireland.
Speaking at a press preview visit to the farm, organising committee chairman George Allan said market trends were encouraging and sheep production currently offered the real prospect of the best return of any livestock enterprise on the farm.
“The trade for hoggets in recent weeks has been phenomenal and augurs well for new-season lamb when it starts hitting the market later this month,” said Mr Allan.
“It is disappointing that flocks in some areas suffered heavy losses during the snow storms of early March and it has been a slow season because of the cold, wet weather. Grass has been slow to grow and more feed was having to be bought-in, adding to farmers’ costs.
“However, with strong demand for Scotch lamb at both home and abroad, reduced imports from New Zealand, and possibly lower lamb numbers, the prospects for this year’s lamb trade look promising.”
Looking to the future, Mr Allan said the longer-term prospects for the sheep industry were uncertain and it would be vital that the export trade to France and the rest of Europe was not sacrificed in the Brexit negotiations.
Improving efficiency on the farm, keeping costs under control and maximising returns from the market by producing a quality product would be more important than ever as the industry faced an uncertain future.
NSA Scotsheep offered sheep producers the opportunity of catching up with all the latest technical developments in the industry as well as viewing a well-managed, high output sheep enterprise of 1400 ewes with all lambs, except retained females, finished on the farm.
“Kings Arms Farm has a well-deserved reputation for the efficient production of high-quality lambs and is an ideal venue for NSA Scotsheep,” said Mr Allan.
“It has not been the easiest season to host such a major event as NSA Scotsheep and we are grateful to Mr and Mrs Dalrymple, and their farm manager, Andrew Maclean, for all the work they are doing to ensure a great event for Scotland’s sheep industry.”
Event organiser Euan Emslie, secretariat of NSA Scotland, said NSA Scotsheep had again confirmed its place as the major event for the sheep industry in Scotland, with more than 190 trade stands confirmed, including 28 breed society exhibits and 12 from individual breeders.
“We have quite a few first-time exhibitors to NSA Scotsheep this year which is a measure of the buoyancy of the Scottish sheep industry,” said Mr Emslie.
NSA Scotsheep will be officially opened at 10am, by John Scott, MSP for Ayr, who farms at Balkissock, Ballantrae, and is a former chairman of NFU Scotland’s hill farming committee.
Features of the action-packed programme will include a farm tour, show and sale of ewe hoggs, Next Generation Shepherd of the Year competition, stockjudging competitions, invitation sheepdog trial, sheep shearing competitions, grassland demonstration, crook making, sheep dressing, wool spinning and felt making, fencing, dry stone walling, various other demonstrations and a farmers’ market.
The extensive seminar programme addressed by leading industry figures will cover the likely impact of Brexit on trade, marketing and future industry support.
There will also be seminars on sheep health, Next Generation and wool and the day will conclude with a Supershear competition.
Mainline sponsors of NSA Scotsheep include British Wool, Campaign for Wool, Caltech-Crystalyx, Carrs Billington Agriculture, Goulding Fertilisers, MSD Animal Health, Origin Fertilisers, Scotmin Nutrition, Shearwell Data and Texel Sheep Society. Major supporters include Quality Meat Scotland and the Scottish Farmer with many other companies providing sponsorship.