30th November 2023

From farmer to the finished product

More than 120 attended the recent Monitor Farm Scotland lamb selection event at United Auctions Huntly, including a sizeable young contingent eager to build on their sheep farming skills.

The evening began with breakout sessions from Michael Wilson, Livestock Buying Manager at Woodhead Bros, Lucy Shand and Trainee Auctioneer Farquhar MacRae of United Auctions, as well as vets Olivia Busson and Alasdair Prentice of Strathbogie Vets.

Topics included the classification of lambs and understanding market requirements, batching and presenting lambs for the live market, and ewe and lamb health for optimal production.

Banff and Buchan Monitor Farmer, Bruce Irvine, provided a fine group of sale-ready lambs and explained how his proactive approach to lamb health has improved growth figures and the overall quality of his flock.

Farmer Duncan Morrison, meanwhile, explained how he is developing a new sheep flock at his Deeside Monitor Farm and highlighted the importance of using accurate figures to inform decisions on selection and performance.

Gary Raeburn of Forbes Raeburn Butchers discussed the provenance of his shops’ Scotch Lamb. Originating from a Huntly farm, the lamb used during the meeting was sourced by Quality Meat Scotland from Millers of Speyside before being butchered by Gary and his father Charles.

Charles split the lamb lengthways and, with one half, demonstrated the traditional butchery method, which was compared to the second half which utilised modern butchery techniques. Gary explained the extra work and value that the modern techniques offered them, including the creation of award-winning ‘Scotch Lamb Stacks’, burgers, seasoned chops, colourful kebabs, attractive racks of lamb and small, intimate roasts, for retail through the shop.

Gary said: “It was good to have people gathered from every part of the supply chain at the meeting: vets, farmers, buyers, auctioneers, butchers, and chefs. The lamb we used for the butchery demonstration came from Stevie Mutch’s farm at Huntly, and was purchased by Woodhead Bros at the Huntly Mart fat sale for Millers of Speyside. Lamb from the same suppliers made up the two lamb dishes served by The Huntly Market Café during the evening, showcasing the versatility and tenderness of Scotch Lamb.”

Beth Alexander, Monitor Farm Programme Manager, said: “Market requirements vary, from butcher to wholesale to export, so knowing which market you are supplying and understanding its requirements, such as specification, is important to optimising the marketability of your lambs. The Monitor Farm Scotland programme offers an open and honest platform for discussion. It was a rare and fantastic opportunity to bring the full supply chain together; from farmer to the finished product.”

The butchered lamb halves were auctioned off by UA trainee auctioneer Farquhar MacRae, raising £225 for the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI).

The Monitor Farm Scotland initiative is managed by QMS with support from AHDB, with funding from the Scottish Government.

To find out more and to see upcoming events, visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk

Sign up for the latest news and views