World Young Shepherds' Challenge

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. It's 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 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 world 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.  

  • You'll be assessed on practical tasks like sorting sheep, handling and crutching techniques, shearing and quad bike skills. And 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 – such as sporting and 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. There were futher discussions the following year and European delegates identified a strong link between rugby playing countries and sheep production. This triggered the idea to run an inaugural world event in New Zealand on the back of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. 

World Young Shepherds' Challenge 2011

The inaugural event was held in Oamaru in October 2011. 

  • Kiwi Peter Klaassen was the winner, beating 21 young shepherds from 11 competing countries. A Beef + Lamb New Zealand scholarship recipient, Peter took time out from his studies at Lincoln University to participate.

World Young Shepherds' Challenge 2014

The second competition was held at an agricultural college in Auvergne, France, in 2014. New Zealand was represented by Rangitikei shepherd Katey Craig and King Country shepherd Mitchel Hoare. They competed against 29 shepherds from 15 other countries.

  • Mitchel won the under 22-years division and Katey was ranked best female competitor overall.

Image slideshow


News stories

Uruguay 2017

It is proposed that the next World Young Shepherd's competition is held in Uruguay in 2017.


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