AN AWARD is being launched to encourage students and young people to continue their involvement in practical sheep management activities.
The first ever National Sheep Association Young Shepherd of the Year Award will be held at NSA Sheep 2006, staged by the associ-ation at the Three Counties Show Ground, Malvern on Wednesday, 2 August. The Heptavac P Plus sponsored award, with £3,000 at stake, is open to college students, YFC members and young people under 26-years-old, and is designed to test their shepherding skills in a pentathlon of activities. Each entrant will be required to sort finished lambs for slaughter, demonstrate handling, vaccinating and dosing techniques, erect an electric fence, and put an ATV through its paces.
They will also be questioned on flock management and health issues.
The association's chief executive, Peter Morris, said: "Helping to equip tomorrow's sheep keepers with the skills they need and giving recognition once those skills have become honed is a must for any forward thinking industry association such as NSA."
He added NSA was pleased to support the pentathlon event since it was acutely aware that the biggest long- term challenge facing the sheep industry was to encourage young people to get involved.
"It is important to emphasise that anyone choosing to enter the shepherding profession should do so knowing that the many skills they possess can lead to them earning a decent living and enjoying a good quality of life. While times are never easy for sheep keepers, those with the best range of skills and an eye for business are most likely to succeed. Competitions such as this are a good incentive to encourage the next gener-ation of shepherds to try and better themselves and look forward to working in a profitable and sustainable industry."
For further information on the NSA 'Shepherd of the Year' award contact NSA Sheep 2006 organiser, Julie Sedgewick on 01388 664496.