Young shepherds prepare for international competition

An Alberta shepherd plans to practise shearing 
before meeting her teammates in Paris

Adriane Goode of Brooks, Alta., is no stranger to sheep, which she worked with extensively during her years in 4-H. 


However, she will be a stranger to her teammate when the pair of young shepherds compete in the World Young Shepherds Challenge in Paris Sept. 27-Oct. 4.


Goode has never met the other member of the Canadian team, Valerie Gaumond, or the team supervisor, Natalie Sylvain, both of Quebec. 


However, the fourth-year animal science student at the University of Saskatchewan is looking forward to the event.


“I’m sure I can work with them no problem,” she said.


“I’m not really worried. It might be a little nerve wracking showing up in Paris and not knowing anybody, but I’ll meet them soon, I’m sure.”


About 20 teams are expected to compete in the event, which requires shepherds ages 19 to 25 to sort, count and handle sheep, shear and trim hoofs, drive an all-terrain vehicle through an obstacle course, score sheep on their body condition and complete two written tests.


Goode once raised a flock of about 30 head and has done most of the things that will be required in competition. She also hopes to get in a little practice before she leaves for Europe.


“I haven’t sheared well, so I’m hoping to contact somebody soon … but everything else I’ve done before,” she said. 


“I’m hoping to get some practice in, but we sold our flock a few years ago so it’s a little bit tougher, especially because everyone’s got their ewes out on pasture right now, but conveniently at my job I’ve got to do some quad work, so I’m practising the quad part a lot.”


The World Young Shepherds Challenge was first held in 2011, but this is the first time Canada has sent a team, according to the Canadian Sheep Federation.


Some countries hold qualifying competitions for team selection, but in Canada it was first come, first served. Goode was the second person to apply and thus became half of the team.


The week-long event will also involve visits to the agricultural colleges of Moulins Neuvy and Broude-Bonnefont, tours of several sheep operations, attendance at a livestock show and a demonstration of cheese making in Roquefort.


Costs are covered once participants arrive in France, but Alberta Lamb Producers has donated $500 to help Goode with plane fare.


“Other than that, I’m just trying to save up as much as I can,” she said.