NSA Members Update 26th April 2013

By Suffolk Sheep Society 29th April, 2013


NSA SHEEP WORRYING STATISTICS SHOW AVERAGE COST OF £1,500 PER DOG ATTACK: After 12 months of inviting sheep farmers to provide data to NSA on sheep worrying by dogs, the statistics show a real variation in the level of interest shown by police forces around the country, with many simply not appreciating the value of the stock involved. The NSA data show a range in the damage caused from £60 to £17,000, giving an average of £1,580 per attack. It also shows more than half of attacks (57%) occur in private, enclosed field with no footpath and no permitted access for dog walkers.

Dog on Lead SignThe NSA statistics have been incorporated in a Farmers Guardian special investigation, which some of you will have seen on the front page of the newspaper today (26th April). Farmers Guardian used Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to police forces around the UK to discover 739 attacks were reported to police in 2012, compared to 691 in 2011 – but NSA thinks that does not even scratch the surface, with many victims not bothering to report the incident to the police due to a lack of interest shown by officers. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive says: “There is very little consistency in police forces throughout the UK about how they record the information, how they respond to calls and how they deal with the incidents afterwards. No one knows what the police are prepared to do and so they don’t bother reporting it.”

Planned NSA activity in the coming weeks includes communicating our concerns to the 51 police forces in the UK, and also raising awareness through the non-farming press. A full report on the NSA data will be including in the May/June edition of Sheep Farmer and the Farmers Guardian investigation can be read now at www.farmersguardian.com. For a plastic sign to screw to gateways (pictured left) please email joanne@nationalsheep.org.uk.

George Milne calls for action on liver flukeinitiative to encourage urgent action on liver fluke, NSA Scotland Development Officer George Milne hosted animal health experts and Government officials atKinaldy Farm by St Andrews, Fife, on Tuesday (23rd April). He and Sybil MacPherson, NSA Scotland Chairman (picture far left and far right), were joined by Scottish Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas (right), Philip Skuce from Moredun (left), Elspeth Scott of SAC Counsulting - Veterinary Sevices (centre) and Mr Milne’s own vet Richard Mauritzen of Parkside Vets. Calling for research to be carried out to investigate practical alternatives, both in the immediate and longer term, George says: “Liver fluke can develop resistance to drugs over time and it’s vital we increase our understanding and widen the options we have to tackle the problem. Vegetable growers are allowed to use biological controls for pest control and I remain convinced that other management options must be possible for sheep and beef farmers. If we continue to see wet summers this problem is just going to get worse and worse, so we must find additional solutions as a matter of urgency.” More information on liver fluke and best practice advice can be found via SCOPS, Moredun and SRUC.

DETAILS STILL TO EMERGE ON FALLEN STOCK SUPPORT: NSA has received a number of calls this week from members in England confused about how they can access the £250,000 funding announced by Defra to reimburse the cost of disposing of fallen stock. We have contacted Defra, who say an announcement will be made in the next couple of weeks listing the postcode areas that claims will be accepted from and if a certain number of losses has to have been suffered to be eligible for funding. A third-party will be appointed to administer claims and this will be the single point of contact for anyone wishing to make a claim. National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) members will definitely be eligible and Defra says it is also looking to find a way for non-members to be able to submit claims too. The most important thing at this stage is to make sure you keep all paperwork and/or receipts linked to fallen stock disposals.

The Scottish Government says that as soon as the April figures from NFSCo are confirmed reimbursements will be made to farmers for the fees they have paid for collections. This method of delivery clearly favours NFSCo members, but NSA understands Cabinet Secretary Mr Lochhead and officials are considering what additional support (on top of the £500,000 already allocated) can be made available to farmers affected by the severe weather, including for non NFSCo members.

In Wales the burial derogation has been extended for the final time, meaning farmers can seek permission to bury fallen stock up until midnight on Tuesday (30th April). NFSCo has also been given permission to call in additional collectors from other areas (to clear the backlog) and collectors allowed to extend their normal working hours if necessary, up until midnight on 7th May. NSA members in Wales wishing to access the £500,000 made available by the Welsh Government must contact one of the three farming charities – RABI, Addington Trust and Farm Crisis Network.

Things are now on hold in Northern Ireland as details of hardship payments are yet to emerge. It is thought that those farmers who benefited from free fallen stock collections (which ended last week) will have that deducted from any hardship payments paid later, but the situation is not clear at the moment on this or any element of how funding might be distributed.

ENGLISH DATABASE PROVIDER ANNOUNCED: Defra’s repeated tendering process to find a company to provide the English sheep movement database has resulted in South Western Business Process Services UK Ltd being announced as the winners for the second time. Problems before Christmas meant Defra had to repeat the tendering process, and NSA is pleased to see such a strong comment from Defra on this occasion, saying South Western was the ‘clear winner’ and that ‘the technical solution they have proposed, together with their prices, provided the best overall solution and scored highest’. There is now a ‘standstill period’, a legal requirement that will last until at least 7th May to give all four bidders the opportunity to seek feedback and submit queries. Defra is not able to make any comment during the standstill period, but afterwards will award a contract and meet with NSA and other stakeholder groups to provide an update. NSA and NFU have had close contract with South Western throughout the process and are looking forward to working with them, including a meeting in the near future to thrash out details of communication, guidance and data use.

NEMATODIRUS HATCH EXPECTED NOW: The rapid increase in temperatures means a mass, synchronised hatch of nematodirus larvae is expected. To help sheep producers assess the risk to their lambs, SCOPS launched a new regional warning system on its website on Monday (22nd April). Click here to find a regional risk map based on work by Bristol and Liverpool universities using data from Eblex (soil temperatures) and AHVLA, SRUC and ABFNI (lab reports) and case reports from vets around the country.

HELP NEEDED TO BUILD UP PICTURE OF WORMER RESISTANCE: NSA members are reminded about the Farming Against Wormer Resistance (FAWR) campaign, launched last week by Novartis Animal Health, and backed by NSA and SCOPS, and encouraged to click here and complete a survey about extent and impact of wormer resistance and how the problem is being dealt with. The first 500 people to complete the survey will receive a free Opinel knife, and all responses will remain completely confidential.

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL HAD CHANGED CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: In the four week to April 14th, 26.3% more fresh lamb and 10% more fresh beef was sold compared to the same period last year. These increases are being clearly linked to the horsemeat scandal due to the same Kantar Worldpanel figures showing a massive drop in sales of beefburgers (43% down) and chilled ready meals (18% down). Eblex says it hopes the move toward quality assured meat and preparing meals from scratch will be a lasting legacy of the horsemeat scandal.

In separate figures, this time from a survey conducted by Welsh Beef and Lamb, 71% of consumers (a 23% increase) said they now actively sought out origin labels on meat, 5% said they were less likely to buy meat from the supermarket and 37 per cent said they were more likely to buy meat from a local butcher. The meat origin survey also revealed 86% of consumers wanted greater assurance on traceability and quality and so HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) is running a national Look for the Logos campaign to raise awareness of PGI Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

In other processing news, SAC Consulting (a division of SRUC) has reported in its May edition of Sheep and Beef News that the big four Kiwi processors are estimated to have lost NZ$200m in the past financial year, owing to them badly misreading the market and pricing lambs too generously. SAC’s Kev Bevan says: “Silver Fern Farms, Alliance Group, ANZCO Food (all co-ops) plus the privately owned AFFCO Holdings were left with a lot of lamb in store last September. Selling these stocks at a big loss explains much of the loss, though it is unclear if all of these stocks have been disposed of.”

ONLY 57% OF LAMBS SLAUGHTERED IN WALES ARE IN SPEC: The 2012 Welsh carcase classification figures show that only 57% of lambs sent to Welsh abattoirs hit the right specification for conformation and fat. The weather would have likely affected this, but the figure was only 1% higher (58%) in 2011. The main problem was lambs being too fat, as there was actually an improvement in conformation with a drop in the number of O and Ps coming through. HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) suggests the improvement indicated genetics in the Welsh flock are continuing to improve. To book a place on a lamb selection training course, contact HCC on 01970 625050 or info@hccmpw.org.uk.

CLARIFICATION SOUGHT ON USE OF RED DIESEL FOR ROAD-USE: A Crown Court judge has ordered HMRC to refund a £250 fine and pay around £85,000 costs after ruling HMRC was wrong to fine Corby Castle Estate, Carlisle, for using red diesel in a tractor that was transporting pipes from a building merchant to agricultural land for a drainage job. The judge also directed HMRC to clarify exactly when an agricultural tractor may travel on a public highway using red diesel when carrying out agricultural activities or transporting goods for agricultural businesses.

NSA BREED SOCIETY FORUM COVERS KEY ISSUES: The second ever NSA Breed Society Forum was held yesterday (Thursday 25th April) with representatives from some of the 81 breed societies affiliated to NSA meeting at Malvern to get an update on NSA activity and discuss issues affecting their own members and all sheep farmers, such as CAP reform, sheep identification and movements, health and welfare, the environment, lamb prices and TSEs. The day was very positive and an excellent two-way exchange of information between NSA HQ and breed societies. We aim to hold two NSA Breed Society Forums each year and the next one will be Wednesday 21st August at the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh (the day before the NSA AGM).

LOOK OUT FOR NSA SCOTLAND’S MAGAZINE: More than 7,000 sheep farmers in Scotland (a mix of NSA and non-NSA members) will receive NSA Scotland’s magazine next week, offering an update on NSA activity and topical issues. There is a NSA membership leaflet inside each magazine and existing members are encouraged to pass this on to friends and neighbours to spread the word about NSA. And of course, any NSA member who signs up a new member between now and September 23rd qualifies for our free prize draw of a Rappa 10ft mobile sheep year. Click here for full terms and conditions. If you are a NSA member in Scotland and think your copy has been lost in the post please contact Caroline Orr on 07966 590251 or carolineorr1@hotmail.co.uk.

PUBLIC PERCEPTION VERSUS FARMING REALITY: Joanne Pugh, NSA Senior Communications Officer, was the guest speaker at the Strangford Down AGM on Wednesday (24th April). Strangford Down sells lamb and beef on behalf of around 130 farmers in Northern Ireland, as well as acting as a buying group for fuel and feed. A healthy discussion followed the meeting about the difference between how consumers perceive farming practices and food prices, and especially how much higher food prices would be without financial support paid to farmers through the CAP.

INVITATION TO AYRSHIRE SHEEP FARM TOUR: NFU Scotland’s Ayrshire Region has invited NSA members to a farm tour and BBQ to celebrate 100 years of NFUS on Friday 31st May, 6pm at Tardoes Farm, Muirkirk, Ayrshire, KA18 3NW. Visitors are encouraged to come in 4x4 vehicles to participate in the tour of David Cooper’s 5,000-acre farm, which supports 1,700 Herdwick and 1,900 Welsh Mountain ewes and hoggs. The farm, which David bought the farm in 2004, has many interesting features, including sites of special scientific interest for hen harrier habitats and prehistoric fossils, which can be found in the dipple burn. David moved from Devon when he bought the farm, at only 17 years of age, and has since laid 35,000m of fencing on his own! To attend the event please call 01314 724000 or text Tardoes Farm Walk and your name(s) to 07775 838926.

CLOSING DATE LOOMING FOR LAMB FINISHING COMPETITION: Farmers in Wales have until Wednesday (1st May) to enter a Farming Connect competition pitting six teams of three Welsh farmers against each other to produce the most profitable pen of lambs grazed on a fodder crop. The Farming Connect Farmer Enterprise competition will require each team to decide on a fodder crop to be established on a two-acre plot at Fronlas Farm, Coleg Powys, and then be responsible for all aspects of crop management and finishing 50 lambs of the same breed. The teams will not have to deal with day-to-day husbandry but will have full control over grazing strategies, need to consider animal health issues, decide when lambs are ready to be slaughtered, and follow them through the grading process. The three members of the winning team (decided by a judging panel) will get an iPad each. Fill in an application form at www.menterabusnes.co.uk/farmingconnect.


  • NSA Welsh Sheep: Tuesday 21st May at Beili Ficer Farm, Llansawel, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, SA19 7JT. More information here.
  • NSA Highland Sheep: Thursday 30th May at Dingwall Mart, Dingwall, Ross-shire, IV15 9TP. More information here.
  • NSA North Sheep: Wednesday 5th June at Crimple Head Farm, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1QT. More information here.
  • The Youthful Sheep Event: Saturday 8th June at Darley Stud Management Co Ltd, Rutland Yard, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9RF. Organised by NSA Eastern Region but open to young people from around the UK with an interest in the sheep sector, with a BBQ and social event to follow in the evening for sheep farmers of all ages. More detail to follow, but register your interest at youngentrants@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • NSA Sheep South West: Tuesday 11th June at Moortown Barton, Knowstone, South Molton, Devon, EX36 4RZ. More information here.
  • NSA South East Farm Walk:Thursday 13th June, hosted by NSA SE Regional Chairman Andrew Barr, 2pm at Place Farm, Firle, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6LP. Please let Bob Blanden know you plan to attend – call 07860 689391 or email blanden@btinernet.com.
  • NSA Sheep Northern Ireland: Monday 1st July at Ballymena Market, Woodside Road, Ballymena, County Antrim, BT42 4HX. Email Edward Adamson for more information by clicking here.
  • Sheep Breeders Round Table:Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd November at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham. To register an interest in attending, please email karen.morris@eblex.ahdb.org.uk.
  • Details of next year’s ram sales can be found by clicking here.

Stamp Out Scab roadshow: To give the English-wide Stamp Out Scab campaign the best possible chance of success it is vital that everyone involved in the sheep sector is involved in the project, not just farmers. So please spread the word to shearers, scanners, hauliers, auctioneers, field officers for markets and abattoirs, assurance scheme inspectors, Trading Standards, AHVLA and RPA officers, pharmaceutical representatives and others, that a series of meetings is being held in April and May (click here for a full list). [Meetings for farmers, vets and SQPs will follow in June/July].


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