18th November 2015

Commitment of Aberdeenshire Farming Family Recognised with Top Award

An Aberdeenshire family farm was today (Wednesday 18th November) named as the 2015 Scotch Beef Farm of the Year.

Darnford farm, near Banchory, run by the Watson family, was announced as the overall winner by Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, during a presentation at AgriScot.

The Watsons run 426 Saler cross suckler cows, with all progeny finished on the farm, other than 50 cattle sold as stores. Cattle is the main enterprise on the farm and as a bolt-on to the main beef enterprise, David Watson and his wife Lynne have also established a 25 cow pedigree Saler herd.

The aim of the annual Award, run by AgriScot and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), is to showcase excellence in the production of cattle in Scotland and raise the profile of the dedication and stock management skills behind the production of Scotch Beef.

The other two finalists were:.Wester Coilechat, Callander, Perthshire, run by the Malcolm family, and Prettycur Farm, Montrose, Angus, run by the Sanger family.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead extended his congratulations to the Watson family. “Family farms like Darnford are the backbone of our livestock industry. This year’s winner and the other finalists should be commended for their commitment to building sustainable and viable farming businesses which auger well for the future of the beef industry in Scotland.”

The representatives from AgriScot and QMS, Robert Neill and Douglas Bell, who visited the finalist farms were particularly impressed with the Watson family’s commitment to continually improving the efficiency of their farm.

“It was a pleasure to visit three farming families who all rightly share a real pride in the way they run their businesses. All three share a dedication to their  and a focus on the market place for the stock produced on the farm, whether that be suckled calves, store animals, finished cattle or high quality breeding stock,” said Douglas Bell, Head of Industry Development with QMS.

AgriScot board member Robert Neill, a former Scotch Beef Farm of the Year Winner, added: “It was a privilege to visit all three farms and spend time with all the finalist families. Our congratulations go to the Watsons and the other finalists for the commercial skills and forward-thinking approach they all demonstrate.”

Peter Watson, who runs the farm with sons David and Adam and their wives, Aynsley and Lynne, said the family was delighted to have won.

“We are very much a family-run business and it is great that a commercial enterprise like ours has been recognised in this way.

“The farm is very much a team effort with the family, as well as neighbouring farmers, Linda Stewart, Allan Melvin and Grant Milne, all involved,” said Peter Watson.

“We have been steadily increasing our herd numbers in recent years and we are confident about the future of our enterprise and in beef production in Scotland and plan to continue to increase our herd size.”

During the farm visits the award assessors looked for: evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, uptake of new ideas to improve efficiency/profitability, a high level of health and welfare and a keen eye on the market for the end product. The assessors also looked to gauge the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer, and family and staff where relevant, to efficiently produce high quality animals.

All farms producing cattle destined to be used for meat sold under the Scotch Beef PGI label – from breeders through to finishers - were eligible to apply for the award and accordingly they were also required to be members of QMS’s quality assurance scheme.


Notes to editors: Background information on the finalist farms:

A Malcolm & Son. Wester Coilechat, Callander, Perthshire. This is an upland livestock enterprise run across two tenanted units near Doune. Wester Coilechat runs to 300 acres and is located to the west of Doune and Cromlix runs to 2400 acres and is located to the north of Dunblane. The cattle enterprise includes 190 spring calving Shorthorn cross cows with the majority going to the Charolaise bull. The cattle enterprise is underpinned by a deferred grazing system whereby cattle are wintered on the high hill at Cromlix.

Rosemount Farms, Prettycur Farm, Hillside, Montrose. The farm business is comprised of 525 acres owned and 208 acres rented. All the cattle are pedigree Aberdeen Angus as follows: 125 spring calving cows; 45 winter calving cows; 14 in-calf winter calving heifers; 45 bulled heifers for spring calving. Steers are sold as stores or finished depending on market and heifers not retained are sold for breeding to both the home and export markets. Feeding of the herd is predominantly forage-based either as grazed grass, silage or treated straw.

P&M Watson, Darnford Farm, Durris, Banchory, Aberdeenshire. The farm is 1350 acres comprised of tenanted land and grass lets and including 700 acres arable. The family run 426 Saler cross suckler cows with a Saler bull used to breed replacements and a Charolais bull used as terminal sire. All progeny is finished on the farm, other than 50 cattle sold as stores, with all Saler heifers retained for replacements. Cattle are the main enterprise on the farm and as a side-line to the main beef enterprise, David and his wife Lynne have established a 25 cow pedigree Saler herd.


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