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UK’s young sheep farmers show off their skills in world shepherding competition

12th June 2024

Four enthusiastic and skilled young farmers from each of the UK nations have fought for the title of ‘World Shepherd of the Year’ at a recent contest held in France.

The weeklong competition gave the young shepherds chance to network and compete against fellow young farmers from far flung countries including Australia and Canada, and African nations such as the Ivory Coast. With the competition travelling across the sheep farming regions of France, attendees were also able to use the event as a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the sheep industry outside of their home nations as well as become part of an expanding international network committed to supporting the next generation of farmers.

Representing the UK were Liam Doyle from Northern Ireland, Matthew Fearon from England, Caryl Davies from Wales and Lana Bell from Scotland. 

Following six competition stages that included tests of shearing, foot care, ewe and lamb selection, body condition scoring and electric fencing, Matthew, who works on his family’s hill farm in the Lake District, Cumbria, emerged as the top UK competitor finishing a respectable fifth out of 30 participants. Liam, a student from Greenmount College, County Antrim also finished in the top ten, coming in ninth place. 

NSA Support & Activities Officer Fiona Parker, accompanied the group on their trip and comments: “The group enjoyed a fantastic week of competition and networking, being welcomed by our French hosts with warm and generous hospitality. Our four UK competitors demonstrated impressive knowledge and skills throughout the week that will have undoubtedly aided those at the event with lesser understanding of progressive sheep systems.

“NSA must thank MSD Animal Health for its sponsorship of the UK team, allowing them to benefit from what I’m sure will have been a memorable and hugely beneficial week.” 

The four UK competitors were selected having previously successfully competed at NSA Sheep Event’s national finals of the NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year in 2022 or were chosen following a competition to find competitors in Scotland.

NSA Sheep Event 2024 will once again be host of the NSA UK Next Generation Shepherd of the Year competition when it takes place on Tuesday 30th July at the Three counties Showground, Worcestershire. 18 skilled young farmers from across the country will come together at the event, sponsored by The Texel Sheep Society, to compete for their chance to take home the prestigious title and a piece of the generous prize pot.

For more information on NSA Sheep Event and the NSA Next Generation of the Year Shepherd competition visit