Shears being sharpened ahead of world-class competition in West Linton

All eyes will be on the action as fleeces are whisked off at an incredible rate.
All eyes will be on the action as fleeces are whisked off at an incredible rate.

West Linton will be the place to be this summer to see some of the world’s top sheep shearers in action.

Blythbank Estate, courtesy of sheep farmers Glenrath Farms Ltd, will be hosting the biennial national sheep event, NSA Scotsheep 2016, on June 1.

There will be plenty to keep sheep shearing enthusiasts enthralled, included a Scotland v England test match, an inter-district challenge between 10 Scottish districts and an exciting new open competition.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has been confirmed as major sponsor of the event and the headline sponsor of the sheep shearing competitions will be animal nutrition and husbandry company, Nettex.

The new open competition for individual shearers – the NSA Scotsheep Supershear Challenge – is set to attract considerable interest with a top prize of £500.

It will be open on a ‘first come, first served’ basis to 40 individual competitors who will be required to shear one sheep. Points will be awarded for speed of the shear and quality of the fleece.

The entry fee is £10 and pre-entry is required. Entry forms and further information available from Mary Armstrong on 01555 841218.

“The sheep shearing competitions will provide an exciting spectacle for visitors to NSA Scotsheep 2016 and the test match between Scotland and England a real challenge for the two teams,” said Lance Armstrong, who is co-ordinating the various competitions.

Additional sponsors of the various competitions will include AP Supplies, Agri-Lloyd, Beltex Sheep Society, Blackface Sheep Breeders Association, British Wool Marketing Board, Broughton Ales Ltd, Glenrath Farms Ltd, Lance Armstrong, Scotch Mule Association and Scottish Shearing Association.

The Scottish team of former world champion Gavin Mutch and close rival Hamish Mitchell, assisted by wool handler Leeanne Bertram, will take on England, who will be represented by international shearers, Adam Berry and Anthony Rook, and current world wool handling champion Hilary Bond.

Last year Gavin became the first non-New Zealander to lift New Zealand’s coveted Golden Shears title and with Hamish took the Golden Shears pairs award back to Scotland.

The District Sheep Shearing Challenge will be run as a team relay, with the two members of each team, assisted by a wool handler, shearing both Mule and Blackface ewe hoggs to give them a real test. Each team member will shear four hoggs of each breed in three heats with the top three teams with the lowest penalty points competing in the final when they will shear 20 Mules.

Gavin and Hamish will also be giving a demonstration to children from local schools taking part in a Uses of Wool poster competition and shearing will also feature in the competition to find Scotland’s Young Shepherd of the Year.