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Trip of a lifetime for Young Farmer

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A farmer’s daughter from Staffordshire is set to take the trip of a lifetime in October after winning a travel scholarship, sponsored by Novartis Animal Health and The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC).

Alex Mackellar, who lives and works at her parents’ sheep farm in Chartley, won the 1,500 award and is set to travel to New Zealand where she will visit three flocks in different parts of the country. And her objective? “To learn more about how its sheep producers cope with anthelmintic resistance and how they control both ecto and endo parasites,” she said.

“Anthelmintic resistance is a huge problem among UK flocks. To date, 60% of UK flocks are resistant and unfortunately this problem won’t go away.”

“I believe that sheep producers need to be better informed about the advantages of good drenching practice and who better to learn from than other sheep producers,” added Alex, who completed a National Diploma in agriculture at Reaseheath College.

Novartis Animal Health and the scholarship sponsors will provide 25-year-old Alex with a laptop and a video camera for the duration of her trip, so she can record her findings and produce a weekly blog and video diary chronicling her time on the placement farms.

“And Alex will also be required to submit a 2,000-word report, to Novartis Animal Health and the NFYFC, which focuses on how New Zealand’s farmers and sheep industry are facing and dealing with parasite control and anthelmintic resistance,” said the NFYFC’s chief executive Diane Calvert.

“This scholarship encourages new and much-needed young blood into the sheep industry, while at the same time providing an opportunity for all UK sheep producers to learn more about how they can better control parasites on farm,” added Novartis Animal Health’s James Crawford.

“UK sheep producers can learn from their peers in New Zealand, which is home to more than 40 million sheep – that’s around 10 sheep for every person.”

“And we felt that Alex has the understanding, drive and determination to pull together all the relevant information during her three-week trip, as well as the passion and communication skills to be able to share it with UK producers and others working in the industry, both during her trip and when she returns,” said one of the scholarship award judges, the National Sheep Association’s Dy Webb.

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