A NORTHUMBERLAND farm welcomed more than 8,000 visitors to one of the country’s major sheep events.

Hailed as one of the most important sheep industry events of 2023, NSA North Sheep held at Bradford House Farm, Belsay, did not disappoint. For visitors, from all over the country, including Cumbria, it was not only a showcase for the industry, it was also a platform for much discussion and debate.

The event was opened by Phil Stocker, CEO of the National Sheep Association. In his speech Phil acknowledged how much pressure the industry has been under: “The recent unprecedented change has for so many been difficult to adapt to, but with that now behind us, we now need to look to the future and address how we are all going to progress with the new Government schemes on the table.”

For many, one of the highlights of the day was the farm tour, which gave an opportunity view the Woodman’s 930-acre Bradford House Farm. The traditional arable and livestock farm included fields with Mule ewes with Texel lambs; Texel ewes with Texel lambs; Blackface ewes with mule lambs; Blackface ewes with Blackface lambs and Blackie hoggs.

Visitors were also given the opportunity to see some of the Woodmans’ cattle which included suckler cows and calves, 22 month old bullocks and heifers ready for market and fields of bull and heifer calves.

Janet Hughes, Defra’s programme director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme had audiences with farmers throughout the day, as Viv Lewis chair of the NSA Northern Region & NSA North Sheep explains: “We took this opportunity to make sure that Janet spoke to as many different sheep farmers as possible, young and old, lowland and upland, commercial and specialist. This enabled her to hear from the horses’ mouth the concerns and worries for the future and suggestions as to how Defra can make their schemes more appropriate and fit for purpose, for sheep farms of all types.

“Janet met with several next-generation upland farmers, and she listened carefully and took their concerns and issues on board, and we hope that these comments will be considered, and translate into changes in policies going forward.”

Many northern younger farmers took part in the Next Generation Shepherd Competition.