Future Proofing your Sheep Business

Date: Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Time: 6pm
Location: Greenmount Campus, CAFRE
Cost: £15 (includes light supper)

Click here to book Greenmount Campus, CAFRE

Date: Thursday 3rd October 2019
Time: 6pm
Location: Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh
Cost: £15 (includes light supper)

Click here to book Silverbirch, Omagh

The conference has been jointly organised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, CAFRE, LMC, AFBI, NSA and NIMEA.

Please note we will be taking questions online during the conference, if you have a smart phone please bring it with you

If you have difficulty booking online, please contact Angela Scott at UFU HQ on 028 9037 0222. Please note: Places cannot be reserved and payment in full is required at the time of booking by credit or debit card.



6pm - Registration & light supper

6.30pm - Chairman opening remarks

6.40pm - Improved results using genetics & grass, Duncan Nelless

7.15pm - Protecting future flock productivity from OPA, Patrick Grant & Eileen McCloskey

7.50pm - Getting into grass, Liz Genever & Aurélie Aubry

8.30pm - Maximising market returns, Dunbia

9.00pm - Discussion & Panel Questions

9.30pm - Closing remarks


Duncan Nelless - Improved results using genetics & grass

Thistleyhaugh farm situated in Northumberland covers 1000 acres running from the river Coquet with views to the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border. Healy farm was bought in 2017 which has taken the total farmed area to 1400 acres{1000acres owned and the rest on 3 FBTs}.This is a more upland farm. The farm has been in the family for over 100 years, now managed by Duncan Nelless and his brother Angus they have doubled the area farmed and flock size over the past 15 years, moving from a traditional 850 ewe mule flock to replace them with a closed flock of pedigree Lleyns.

Aware of cost pressures they decided to convert the farm to Organic status and started the conversion in 2005 with the aim to reduce input costs and make the most of their grassland, since then they operate strict grassland management with an emphasis on red and white clover.

Duncan was Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year Finalist 2012 and is on the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board



Patrick Grant - Protecting future flock productivity from OPA

Patrick’s interest in sheep began from a young age on his father’s farm in the Mourne mountains, where together with his brothers they still farm around 800 ewes, including pedigree Suffolks and Lanark type Scottish Blackface. 

Patrick graduated out of Glasgow University in 2008 before working in a mixed practice in Mid Ulster, County Tyrone. He specialised in advanced fertility techniques including laparoscopic AI and embryo transfer. Over the last few years, Patrick began a lung scanning service for Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma/Jaagsiekte.

Patrick previously worked for Parklands Veterinary Practice but since May 2019 is now running his own sheep health, production consultancy service and breeding services (The Sheep Vet).

Patrick has been involved in both vet and farmer training on a range of sheep topics, most recently being involved in training and discussions surrounding the initiation of a lung scanning service for Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (OPA) in NI, Scotland and the ROI.


Eileen McCloskey - Protecting future flock productivity from OPA

Eileen graduated from Queens with a PhD in Biological Sciences which looked at grazing behaviour, diet and social interactions of traditional and non-traditional sheep breeds on hill farms. She joined CAFRE in 2013 as sheep technologist where her main role is working with farmers and industry stakeholders to develop efficient and sustainable sheep systems. The main areas are improved productivity, performance recorded livestock, integrating EID and data collection, grassland management and animal housing and handling.  There is a strong focus on demonstration and dissemination of knowledge to industry and students through the CAFRE flocks and various events.



Liz Genever - Getting into grass

Liz loves working with progressive farmers who want to challenge their sheep and beef systems - particularly if introducing livestock into an arable business. She has a technical background in sheep and beef fertility and breeding, and grass and forage management. Previously Liz worked for the UK's agricultural levy board - Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) - and its predecessors (Meat and Livestock Commission and EBLEX) for thirteen years. She established two large scale projects for the sheep industry - RamCompare (www.ramcompare.com) and Challenge Sheep (http://beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk/returns/project-farms/challenge-sheep/). Since visiting New Zealand in 2008, she developed tools and techniques to help UK beef and sheep farmers to improve their knowledge of grass and forage management. Liz is a partner in her family farm with arable, sheep and beef enterprises in south Lincolnshire.


Aurélie Aubrey - Getting into grass

Dr Aurélie Aubry is a research scientist leading the sheep research programme at AFBI Hillsborough. Since she joined AFBI in 2013, she has been coordinating a number of research projects funded by DAERA, DAFM, AgriSearch, AHDB, the LMC and UK Research Councils, using both the AFBI sheep flock and working in collaboration with commercial sheep hill and lowland farmers in NI.  These projects are in the areas of sheep breeding and nutrition strategies, grazing strategies and behaviour, greenhouse gas emissions, sheep health planning and also involve the development of performance recording tools. At the event Aurélie will discuss the benefits of using grassland management tools, for example as part of the GrassCheck platform, to identify and manage grass shortages and surpluses and evaluate the performance of different rotational grazing strategies.

George Williamson - Maximising market returns (Greenmount only)

George focuses on the commercial agricultural operations of the company and, with his team, oversees the range of retail accounts that Dunbia fulfil.

George first started with the company back in 2012 whilst studying at Greenmount working in both the lairage and procurement. Since graduating from the Agriculture Technology degree offered by Queens and CAFRE over four years ago George has risen through the ranks of the Agriculture team and now looks after the UK team.

George plays a large role in developing and implementing agricultural strategies which deliver innovation, integration and improved efficiencies to streamline the beef and sheep supply chains, some key areas of focus include delivering Integrated supply chains, quantifying and enhancing the nutritional benefits of beef together with a range of sustainability projects that look at improving efficiency on Dunbias’ producers farms.


Michaela Tener - Maximising market returns (Silverbirch only)

Michaela comes from a dairy farm background in Co. Tyrone and has entered the red meat sector following the completion of her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Technology from Queens University Belfast in 2017. Taking up employment with Dunbia as part of the Agriculture team as a Research Officer. Michaela focus’ on delivering a range of innovative commercial projects that look right along the supply chain, working within the Dunbia agriculture strategies to lead innovation and improve on farm efficiencies. I am currently studying part-time MSc Business for Agri-food and Rural Enterprise in conjunction with CAFRE & QUB enabling me to achieve an academic qualification alongside my work commitments, giving me new insight into the industry and the challenges it faces.