North Sheep 2015, the National Sheep Association’s key biennial event for the North of England’s sheep sector, will be held in Cumbria next year.
The industry showcase will be staged at Millstone Moor Farm, Cockermouth, on Wednesday, June 3, with the permission of Neil and Sally Marston, who are noted for the quality of the Bluefaced Leicesters and North of England Mule sheep they breed.
Event organiser, Julie Sedgewick, said: “It’s brilliant to be bringing NSA North Sheep back to Cumbria, which is a renowned sheep producing area.
“NSA North Sheep 2015 will be focusing on the current challenges and opportunities in the industry, and we are expecting visitors from all over the UK, not just Northern England, to make the trip to the Marstons’ fantastic livestock farm for this important industry event.”
Neil Marston, who has been breeding sheep all his life, farms with wife Sally and his parents Raymond and Frances. They have been farming at Millstone Moor Farm since 2008 and are well-known in sheep breeding circles.
The family holds the record for the highest priced animals ever sold at Mitchell’s Market in Cockermourth, with the champion and reserve champions at the Bluefaced Leicester sales selling for £8,000 each last year.
The Marstons have also had success in the showing world, winning a Royal Highland Show championship with a Mule Ewe lamb.
Their 650-acre farm, which is half-owned and half on a Farm Business Tenancy (FBT), is home to the Highberries flock of Bluefaced Leicesters, a small flock of pure-bred Swaledales, North of England Mule ewes, a pure Dutch Texel/Beltex flock and some Texel cross Mule ewes. In total, there are around 1,800 breeding ewes at Millstone Moor, plus a 60-strong suckler cattle herd made up of pure Limousins and Belgian Blue crosses.
Mr Marston said: “We are delighted to be hosting NSA North Sheep 2015 and a great honour to be welcoming this - the leading sheep event in the North England - once again to Cumbria.
“Visitors on the day will see a working farm on the edge of the Lake District, and, as well as learning about developments in the sheep sector, they’ll also be able to enjoy panoramic views across the Lakes on one side, the other across the Solway to Scotland.”
Last year’s NSA North Sheep event, held in North Yorkshire, attracted more than 7,000 visitors who came see to a range of activities and competitions, from the NSA North Sheep Young Shepherd of the Year Award to sheep shearing contests, stockjudging and lamb selection. NSA North Sheep is also a noted destination for people wanting to learn more about countryside crafts and practical activities such as dry stone walling demonstrations, stickmaking, spinning, weaving and felting displays, and for stocking up at traditional farmers’ market and craft stalls.