Two of Scotland’s most talented young shepherds are in line for a trip of a lifetime after winning a competition to assess their sheep husbandry skills.
Borders-based David Gray and Aberdeenshire-based Gregor Ingram emerged as the overall winners of the NSA Scotland Young Shepherd competition which took place at Oatridge College near Edinburgh yesterday (Tuesday July 5th).
David (25), who was the highest place competitor, is from Sunnycroft, Lindean, Selkirk and Gregor (22) who was runner-up, is from Logie Durno, Pitcaple, Inverurie.
The delighted pair are now bound for the world championships being staged in the Canterbury region, South Island, New Zealand in November 2011.
Competitors from the length and breadth of Scotland, who had to be 20 – 25 to be eligible, were challenged to display their sheep knowledge and skills in seven key areas at this week’s event.
Each entrant was required to grade finished lambs, demonstrate handling tasks such as foot pairing, shearing, vaccinating and dosing techniques, along with stock judging. They were also questioned on flock management and health issues.
The winners’ trip to New Zealand is being supported by sponsors including the National Sheep Association, the Blackface Sheep Breeders Association, British Wool Marketing Board, Quality Meat Scotland and The Cameron Travel Scholarship Trust.
"Our thanks to Oatridge College for hosting the NSA Scotland Young Shepherd Competition and to all the sponsors helping to fund the trip to New Zealand,” said NSA Development Officer for Scotland, George Milne.
Mr Milne pointed out the importance of encouraging young people to consider careers in livestock farming, saying one of the biggest challenges faced by the sheep industry is recruiting skilled staff.
Lack of skilled labour was one of three top issues of concern identified by sheep producers in Scotland in a recent survey of sheep farmers by Quality Meat Scotland.
“David and Gregor are clearly delighted to have won this opportunity. The pair are great examples of the enthusiastic and talented young people we have working in the industry and we very much hope that the opportunity being presented to them will help to raise the profile of livestock work – and sheep production in particular – as a career opportunity for more young people.
“Our industry has a very positive story to tell – ranging from its willingness to embrace innovation to the high standards of welfare that underpin the quality assurance schemes behind our products.”
The New Zealand programme which David and Gregor will undertake will include visiting the agricultural facilities at Lincoln University and a wool scouring operation as well as meeting with meat processors, attending Christchurch Agricultural Show and farm visits.
Caption: Pictured foreground are winners, David Gray (left) and Gregor Ingram, with sponsor representatives clockwise from left - Aileen McFadzean (Blackface Sheep Breeders Association), Colin McGregor (British Wool Marketing Board), Jimmy Sinclair (National Sheep Association), John Cameron (The Cameron Travel Scholarship Trust) and Stuart Ashworth (Quality Meat Scotland).
For further press information please contact Carol McLaren, Quality Meat Scotland on 0131 472 4112