FOLLOWING a successful application to the National Sheep Association (NSA), Francesca Grieve, 26, from Cumbria is preparing to join sheep industry experts this weekend as she attends the biennial Sheep Breeders Round Table (SBRT) three-day conference near East Midlands Airport, Derbyshire.

The event, which this year is themed ‘Becoming the best sheep industry in the world’, offers farmers, breeders, researchers, agricultural students and vets an opportunity to come together to discuss a whole host of topics ranging from sheep fertility to productive hill farming - subjects that will be of particular interest to shepherdess and student Francesca.

Francesca is currently studying full time towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Sciences and Production Systems at Harper Adams University, Shropshire, and is hoping attendance at this weekend’s conference will provide her with valuable up to date information. Francesca explains: “Though my grandfather had a farm in Sussex, I am the only one currently interested in working in agriculture in my family. Having not grown up on a farm I realise this can be a disadvantage compared to others. There are gaps in my knowledge that I really want to fill and by attending the SBRT I can meet new people who have new ideas and learn as much as possible from them.

“Many of my friends are involved in farming which is how I got started, one of my best friends asked if I wanted to try lambing as she had done it for many years. One day there and I was hooked and since then I have completed two years working as a contract shepherdess! I love being up on the fell in all weathers checking on the sheep but also in the shed making sure the lambs are thriving.”

Francesca recognises the importance of sheep production in her home environment. She continues: “Sheep farming is such an integral part of life in the Lake District and the UK, but it is now being threatened from many corners. I believe there is a strong future for sheep farming but there are many obstacles to overcome and problems to face up to before that future is reached and I want to be part of that. I am particularly interested in looking into breed improvement for progressive change on farms, especially hill farms, sheep traceability schemes and ways in which we can utilise forage and grass to have productive extensive systems as much as possible.”

This weekend’s three-day event that is organised by a steering group including NSA, Agrisearch, AHDB, HCC and QMS and chaired by Leicestershire sheep farmer Charles Sercombe. will surely provide Francesca with further even more enthusiasm for a successful future for the industry.

The Sheep Breeders Round Table will be held on Friday 15th to Sunday 17th November 2019. More information and a detailed programme can be found online: