The All Canada Sheep Classic show and sale took over the Victoria Pavilion to close out the 2009 Stampede, and featured more than 50 exhibitors affiliated with Canadian Sheep Breeders’ Association (CSBA), which pegs the nation’s flock at about one million animals, about a quarter of those based in Alberta.
Ten breeds from across the nation are represented – Suffolk, Hampshire, North Country Cheviot, Dorper and Southdown, which make an annual appearance at Stampede; Texel, Charollais, Horned Dorset and Polled Dorset, which are more prevalent in Eastern Canada; and Shropshire, now considered a rare breed in Canada.
The All Canada Sheep Classic also featured a market lamb class and a fleece competition. The sheep show concluded with a sale of the show’s entire contingent of 314 sheep, which have been transported from as far away as Vancouver Island and Prince Edward Island.
“The most important part of being at the Stampede is being able to interact with the public and consumers,” says Pam Barker, the Stampede sheep committee chair. “There is literally no other place on earth where sheep people can interact with the public in the same way.”
The sale is an essential part of the CSBA’s annual show. “All animals that are entered in the Classic must also sell, and you must have entered at least one ewe for every ram, so it doesn’t become like a bull sale in the beef industry,” says Barker. “The sale is a mandatory part of the Classic as a way of exchanging genetics. It’s for the health of the entire industry.”