Fleece competition successes:
Well done to Sandra Brown for successes with a black Wensleydale fleece in the wool competitions at South of England Show (2nd and reserve champion) and Kent Show (champion) this summer. The fleece has been chosen for entry in the national Golden Fleece competition which will be judged at the end of 2016 which is a tremendous achievement and demonstrates once again the quality of Wensleydale fleeces.
Wensleydale workshop: held at Wooton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire on 20th September 2016 hosted by Ann and John Griffiths.
A now familiar group of breeders met on Tuesday 20th September and enjoyed a very convivial day. We welcomed three new faces, two who are about to move to Wales and first made contact with us at the South of England Show in June (once settled after their move they will join the Association), and the other being an established breeder who has been unable to attend previous workshops. We are fortunate to have such an enthusiastic membership in the area.
Richard Broad, South West Field Officer for the RBST talked about the Wensleydale breed and how the Watch List is arrived at. He gave us ideas about how we can, as individuals or as an association, preserve the breed for the future. It was up to us to find niche markets whether this be for wool, related products from the wool, or from meat. This led to much discussion and the group as a whole wanted to see better lines of communication, a web site giving more information on who had what for sale, and enquiries more quickly dealt with in order that contacts can be made. Richard then talked about DNA sampling and the RBST semen bank which is gradually being released. This led to a discussion on the size and conformation of the breed. Sheep in the north seemed to be much larger than in the south. In this instance size is important!
Kimberley Dudley and her colleague from Allflex talked about tagging and current related legislation. She emphasised the importance of of correctly placing the tag in the ear so as to avoid problems when the ear grew. Interestingly she showed us tags that incorporated DNA sampling. Some members have had problems with the official ear tags with the disc breaking up. She agreed to explore the composition of the ear tag itself to ensure its durability. She also demonstrated electronic readers for EID tags. This was a very useful session for all of us.
Bryony Kendall, one of the local vets from Tynedale Farm Practice, who coincidentally comes from Wensleydale, talked on matters relating to feet, legs and lameness in sheep, including the current practice of not trimming feet unless really necessary. She brought with her an illustrated presentation which we all found useful.
After more coffee, tea and cake, some members left, others stayed and we talked Wensleydales for some while longer.
Ryedale Show, North Yorkshire, 2015
Congratulations to Ernie Sherwin for his success at Ryedale this year. He not only won the breed championship and the award of the new Jessie and Jack Watkinson Trophy, but also went on to win Reserve Supreme in the sheep show. The photograph shows Ernie in conversation with Adam Henson for a subsequent feature on BBC Country File (shown recently) bringing good publicity for the breed. Well done Ernie.
Pateley Show: Once again Ernie Sherwin took top honours with his shearling ewe (see picture below). Having won the breed championship, he went on to win the Supreme Champion of all breeds, the first time in living memory this has been achieved at this show, and also the wool-on-the-hoof competition.