West Dorset young farmers get hands-on in a hedge-laying competition

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: AT WORK: Isobell Minshall, 12, trims a hedge AT WORK: Isobell Minshall, 12, trims a hedge

YOUNG farmers got hands-on with a traditional skill in a hedge-laying competition.

And West Dorset youngsters proved their prowess – taking top honours in the novice and intermediate and senior competitions.

The event at Manor Farm in East Stoke, Purbeck, drew more than 30 youngsters of all skill levels.

Organiser Megan Marshall, of Wareham and Purbeck Young Farmers Club (YFC) said this year’s event saw more competitors than ever.

She said: “I think it’s something that is growing. We got sponsorship this year which enabled us to give good prizes and provide tools and gloves.

“It’s something that’s a little bit different but it’s really nice to see people taking part.

“What’s good about this competition as well is that it is open, so novices get to work alongside professionals, which means they learn a lot.”

There were five competitions overall, including novice, intermediate and senior and a pairs class.

Hedge-layers are judged on health and safety, their working environment, cutting technique and laying.

At the start of the competition, they are given guidelines as to whether they are creating a hedge barrier for sheep and cows, and the competitors are then judged on how well their finished hedge meets these guidelines.

Megan said: “Hedge-laying is a traditional farm management technique and used to be a winter job for farmers.

“It helps to improve the hedge so that livestock can’t get through.

“For example, you have to make sure the hedge doesn’t simply grow up and up, because then it can get thin at the bottom. It’s better for it to be sturdy and create a barrier for livestock.”

The annual competition is usually organised by the Dorset Federation of Young Farmers Clubs but the Wareham and Purbeck branch took on the challenge by themselves this year.

Kevon Rendell and Peter Yates were invited to be judges.

For details about DYF email office@dorsetyfc.org.uk

WINNERS AND RUNNERS-UP:

YFC Novice 1. Shaunna Knight - Marshwood Vale YFC 2. Izzy Minshall - Marshwood Vale YFC Joint 3. Michael Crabb & James Wallbridge - Beaminster YFC YFC Intermediate 1. Tom Greenway - Marshwood Vale YFC 2. Sam Norman - Beaminster YFC YFC Senior 1. James Billen - Marshwood Vale YFC 2. Mark Hanson - Blandford YFC 3. Alan Bailey - Marshwood Vale YFC 4. Ashley Barnes - Wareham & Purbeck YFC YFC Pairs 1. Dan Barnes & Adam Smith - Wareham & Purbeck YFC 2. Ross Mitchell & Andrew Edmounds - Sherborne YFC 3. Abigail Baker & Georgie Dyer - Wareham & Purbeck YFC 4. Lindsay Gubbins & Matt Stones - Marshwood Vale YFC

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