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Marie Prebble: 'Any rewilding efforts will have unacceptable impacts'

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What a month for the sheep industry. Two new world records in sheep shearing, set by Matt Smith and Ivan Scott for 731 ewes and 867 ewes and lambs, respectively; talks of trade deals with the USA for British lamb; and of course, the National Sheep Association (NSA) Sheep Event at the Three Counties Showground.

 

Wearing my NSA Next Generation Ambassador t-shirt bestowed on me two years ago, I spent the day helping with the Young Shepherd of the Year competition, which showcased the skills of 22 keen shepherds in key areas including husbandry, ATV handling and shearing.

 

With informative and challenging seminars throughout the day, it was a fantastic event to be part of, so well done to everyone involved.

 

Prior to heavy rain at the beginning of August, we managed to be baling six days out of eight in a much-needed run of decent weather, typically the week of the Royal Welsh Show, which I was disappointed to miss, but pleased to now have good quality hay in the shed.

 

After a few focused days catching up on sheep work at home, the whole flock is now weaned, fly-sprayed, lambs drenched and foot-bathed.

 

Speaking to several local farmers, I have decided to order enough Bluetongue vaccine to cover my ewes, rams and replacements.

 

Time will tell if I should be vaccinating all my lambs, as they will likely still all be on-farm in September when predictions are for the virus to show in the South East, but the cost of two doses and stress to lambs just after weaning is, I think, prohibitive.

 

I defer to those more experienced than myself to discuss.

 

I recently took a pen of sheep to a local park for its ‘farm and forest day’. With the Herdwicks barricaded in a double-height pen, I continually repeated ‘please make sure you wash your hands’, while handing out Kent Shepherd stickers to probably 1,000 children. Genuinely good fun.

 

I also attended Countryfile Live to promote British sheep farming to a captive audience with other NSA volunteers, ahead of Love Lamb Week on September 1-7.

 

I wonder whether the escaped Lynx which took three weeks to capture after killing four lambs will be on the public’s radar? A sign indeed that any rewilding efforts to re-introduce large predators to the UK will have unacceptable impacts on our industry.

Farmers Guardian
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