A Kelso producer has been recognised today (29 November 2013) by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) for his longstanding commitment to raising the profile of performance recording in Scotland.
John Elliot, who farms with his son, also John, was presented with the Johnston Carmichael Trophy by Neil Steven, Director, General Practice - Edinburgh, Johnston Carmichael on his Roxburgh Mains farm in Kelso.
Mr Elliot who has been involved in the performance recording of both sheep and cattle for over 30 years, started recording the weights of his North Country Cheviot tup hoggs purely as a guide to how they were thriving. He then bought some Suffolks in the early 1980s to breed rams for their own use and weighed them as a selection aid.
Mr Elliot then started recording his Suffoks with Signet and in 2002, when he acquired some Texels, they were recorded too, initially by weighing. Now all the lambs are scanned ultrasonically and a few of the best Texels are CT scanned.
“Recording of weights and carcase characteristics of Suffolks and Texels, which in my view are primarily terminal breeds, makes so much sense,” said Mr Elliot. “The only way our ram customers can enhance the income they make from their lambs is by hitting optimum market weight and conformation when prices are high in early summer.
“We use EBVs as a selection tool and as a buying aid for our customers, but we’ve also improved the commercial attributes of our Suffolks and Texels by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each breed and enhancing the former and reducing the latter,” added Mr Elliot.
The Texel and Suffolk flocks at Roxburgh Mains are both in the top 10% of the breed when it comes to performance, and five out of the top ten Texel rams in the country this year were sired by Roxburgh rams. This included the highest indexed individual which the Elliots bought. They also bought the ram lamb with the highest gigot score and EBV in the UK.
Looking to the future Mr Elliot said: “The process of increasing saleability and reducing costs in our flock is ongoing.
“We remain interested in genomic research but feel that, at present, this is some way off being a major factor in successful sheep farming in the United Kingdom.
“It is very encouraging that potential ram customers increasingly recognise the benefits of buying high performance sheep and bid accordingly.
“Apart from the improvement in the physical performance of our Suffolk and Texel flocks, the statistics now available to our customers give them valuable assistance in locating rams to meet their particular requirements,” added Mr Elliot.
Kathy Peebles, QMS Livestock Development Manager said: “John is an extremely worthy winner of the trophy and has championed the use of performance recording for the last three decades.
“He is an excellent example of how EBVs can enhance a business and also how to market genetics to both the pedigree and commercial breeder. John produces animals with a commercial slant that have both the looks and the figures.”
Caption L-R: Neil Steven, Director, General Practice - Edinburgh, Johnston Carmichael presents John Elliot with the Johnston Carmichael Trophy on John’s farm in Kelso.