Reaseheath College, agricultural students scored a hat trick by taking the top three prizes at the Young Shepherd of the Year competition, run by the Central Region of the National Sheep Association (NSA).
Tom Bird, a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture student from Derbyshire, took the top honours with fellow students Rich Bailey from Aberystwyth in the runner-up position and Rob Morris from south Shropshire in third place.
The students proved that they had the all-round skills to make successful commercial shepherds by completing five elements covering all aspects of the industry. These included demonstrating correct techniques in sheep handling, belly clipping, foot care, vaccinating, drenching and all terrain vehicle handling, and a written paper on flock management. They also carried out an EBLEX lamb selection, proving they understand the requirements of the meat market.
Sponsored by Horner shearing, the Texel Sheep Society and Mole Valley Farmers, the multi-skilled competition was held at The Winter Fair, Bakewell Agricultural Centre, last Thursday and attracted entries from across several counties.
As well as collecting a trophy and a cheque, Tom, 18, also qualified for the NSA Young Shepherd of the Year national finals which will be held at the Malvern Three Counties showground in 2016.
He said: “I really enjoyed the competition. It was great experience and certainly something to put on my CV!”
Reaseheath’s Programme Leader for Agriculture Richard Wheeldon is current chairman for the NSA Central region. He explained: “We run this competition annually to encourage and inspire the next generation of shepherds. It is also an opportunity for talented students to showcase their skills.”