Adriane Good now has a lifelong distinction — the first Canadian to participate in the World Young Shepherd’s Challenge.
The 20-year-old travelled to France this fall to compete against other young shepherds from around the world — although it was friendly competition.
“Honestly, the best part of it was meeting all these people from around the world, and just learning about how everyone does things differently, meeting all these people and making new friends,” said Good, who grew up on a farm near Brooks. “If I ever go to New Zealand, I have people that I can visit there.”
She had her own flock of 30 sheep, which she obtained through her involvement with 4-H, and learned about the competition from 4-H Canada’s Facebook page.
“I emailed, and got some more information and pretty much they just told me I could go, as long as I could afford the flights,” she said. “So I said I would find a way.”
Good purchased her own plane tickets, and received $1,000 in support from Alberta Lamb Producers and the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency.
There was one other hitch — shearing is one of the events and Good had never done that before.
Fortunately, a kind farmer from a neighbouring town let her come out and practise on his sheep.
“I did not do well in the competition, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to,” said Good, a fourth-year animal science student at the University of Saskatchewan. “I haven’t worked with sheep in four years, so I knew I wasn’t going to do well.”
Thirty-one contestants aged 19 to 25 competed in the two-day competition. Contestants, who hailed from 16 countries, were judged on their general shepherding skills — hoof trimming, handling, shearing, body condition scoring and guessing the weight of lambs. They were also quizzed on breed identification and knowledge of the sheep industry, and had to demonstrate their quad manoeuvring skills in an obstacle course.
The competition was held in two locations; Brioude Bonnefont Agricultural College (Haute Loire) and Sommet d’Elevage, France’s biggest agriculture show, in Auvergne.
“They made a huge deal out of it. They had a big event and it was pretty crazy,” said Good.
Participants came from across Europe, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia, and South America.
“It was pretty international. There were only about five girls in the entire competition,” said Good.
A New Zealander won the 19-21 division and a Brit took home the prize for the 21-25 division.
“It was a very close race for the top spots,” noted Good.
The group also toured Paris and the south of France, where participants visited agricultural colleges and sheep-related businesses.
Good’s studies are focused on feedlot animals because she sees better job prospects in the cattle sector. However, she loves working with sheep and hopes to do more with sheep in the future.
And she recommends those who share her passion should consider following in her footsteps.
“It’s so much fun. The competition is such a minor part of it. It’s important, but the competition isn’t why I went. I went to meet other sheep people from around the world and see how other people are doing things, and what other countries’ sheep industries are like.”
The World Young Shepherd’s Challenge is held every two to three years, with the next competition slated to be held in South America. The inaugural event took place in 2011 in New Zealand.