Harry Lombardi could be the best young shepherd in the whole of the country.
He’s certainly the best in the eastern region, as he discovered at the National Sheep Association Eastern Region Young Shepherd Competition a couple of weeks ago.
Harry is a contract shepherd and sheep shearer, as well as helping out on the family farm at Sutterton.
It was at the family farm that Harry (22) felt inspired to start keeping one or two sheep of his own as a boy.
At college, he joined a shearing course and, as he says: “I got addicted to it. It’s highly addictive. It’s a really physical thing as well.”
The shearing began with his own commercial sheep and rare breed Hampshire Downs when he couldn’t find anyone to do the job because “all the old boys were retired”.
However, from helping family and friends, the shearing spiralled.
He said: “I sheared for a farm shop and loads of people came and asked who did it and so I started doing other people’s and then word got round and it took off.”
Harry says his shearing improves with every sheep, and as the quality gets better he gets even more recommendations.
Unlike some sheep shearers – occasionally seen at country shows shearing at high speed – Harry says: “I prefer to do a better job and take longer on it. Obviously speed is a big element of it but I never let any go off with a bit of wool hanging off it or looking messy.”
Shearing is an aspect of his work that is clearly on display, but he says most of it goes unnoticed because it is “behind closed doors or out in the field”.
Somewhere his work does get noticed though is at shows, and it was at his first, the Leicestershire County Livestock Show in 2012, that Harry achieved a first in the Native Down breed ram class and then reserve show champion.
That was followed last year by a first and third for fat lambs and a second for his Hampshire ram.
Harry says: “When you are young it is hard to get into the industry from scratch. These prizes give me a lot of satisfaction. It’s really satisfying to know you can actually breed quality stock and that people like it, especially the judges who have been doing it for 40 to 50 years.”
Now, his sights are set on July 30, when all the first and second placed regional winners will compete for the national trophy in Malvern.