World Young Shepherds' Challenge

Are you an 'ace' shepherd? Can you see yourself competing in a global event that tests shepherding skills?

The World Young Shepherds' Challenge – also known as World Ovinpiades – is an international competition for shepherds aged 18 to 25.

The competition is a great opportunity to meet the next generation of farmers from other parts of the world, test and showcase your knowledge and skills and have the unique experience of representing your country in an international event.

How it works

The competing countries each hold national finals to select two young shepherds to take part in the competition. In New Zealand, this leg of the event is designed and run on behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand by New Zealand Young Farmers.

The best young shepherds from each country travel to the host country to take part in the competition – with Beef + Lamb New Zealand sponsoring our young shepherds to attend. 

What does it involve?

You'll be assessed on practical tasks like sorting sheep, handling and crutching techniques, shearing and quad bike skills. You'll be quizzed on topics like flock management and animal health.

You'll also have opportunities to get to know the sheep industry in the host country. In the past, there have been tours of meat and wool processors and visits to sheep farms and universities.

There is also a recreational component involves, including sporting or sightseeing events.

How it started

The idea of holding a competition for young shepherds was born at the International Sheepmeat Forum in Brussels in 2009. Further discussions followed the next year and European delegates identified a strong link between rugby playing countries and sheep production, triggering the idea to run an inaugural world event in New Zealand on the back of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.