Farmer wins Sheep prize

Thomas Gibson (left) is presented with his new 3in1 feeder by NSA Northern Ireland Regional Chairman John Blaney.
Thomas Gibson (left) is presented with his new 3in1 feeder by NSA Northern Ireland Regional Chairman John Blaney.

The National Sheep Association’s 2014 membership recruitment prize giveaway has had its first Northern Irish winner.

Thomas Gibson, a mixed livestock farmer from Broughshane, Ballymena, is now the proud owner of an Advantage Feeders’ 3in1 feeder.

Thomas works alongside his father on their upland farm, which runs from 600ft to 1,200ft above sea level and supports 800 breeding ewes and 50 suckler cows. Scotch Mule and Scotch Mule cross ewes are put to Texels to produce fat lambs and to Cambridge and Belclare tups to breed replacements. Thomas breeds his best Scottish Blackfaces with Bluefaced Leicester rams to provide Mules to sell as ewe lambs.

This is the second success Thomas has had with NSA, as he was selected to be a NSA Next Generation Ambassador in January and has been attending personal development and business training days in recent months. He signed up as a member in his own right earlier in the year.

Thomas said: “My father was always a member of NSA and I joined to be kept informed of technology and new ideas in the industry. It’s great to win one of these feeders and it will be very useful. I’m going to use it to feed replacement ewe lambs on some rough hill through the winter instead of sending them to a local dairy farm. It means I won’t have to drive to the dairy farm every other day to check on them. The high capacity of the feeder and the intake system should be great for supplementary feeding throughout the winter.”

The feeder is the fourth of six to be given away by NSA in 2014. The draw is open to anyone who signs up as a new NSA member and also existing members who recruit a friend or neighbour.

Thomas’ win draws attention to the tireless work of NSA in Northern Ireland, including the recent production of a Vision for British Lamb Production, which was launched at the NSA Sheep Event in July in conjunction with the NFU. The report lays out the current state of UK lamb production and the steps needed to ensure the best possible future for the sector.

The document will be used to guide NSA’s own work and to demonstrate to decision makers the best path to realising the potential of the sheep industry.