A Perthshire farming couple have been congratulated by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) this week for their longstanding commitment to raising awareness of the importance of performance recording in Scotland.
Neil and Debbie McGowan, who farm at Incheoch near Alyth, were presented with the Johnston Carmichael Trophy at NSA Highland Sheep in recognition of their dedication to improving their flock through the use of EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values).
As well as being well-respected livestock farmers, the McGowans are also very willing to embrace innovation and developed their own system of recording maternal traits to support EBVs.
They were among the first in Scotland to opt to sell their pedigree rams from the farm, with the focus very much on communicating the animals’ EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values).
The couple developed their own maternal recording system to rigorously select the right genetics for home-bred replacements which supports the conventional EBVs. They now performance record 1,100 of their ewes which are mainly Lleyns with a few Texels. The couple also run 220 cows on the 1,200 acres at Incheoch.
Neil McGowan has recently won a Nuffield Scholarship to study the management of large-scale seed stock breeding programmes for cattle and sheep.
As part of the scholarship he plans to travel to New Zealand to see how performance-recorded flocks - sometimes extending to 20,000 ewes - are managed there.
Johnny Mackey, Head of Industry Development, QMS said: “The McGowans are extremely worthy winners of the trophy and have championed the use of performance recording for a very long time.
“Their family-run sheep enterprise is an excellent example of how EBVs can enhance a business and also how to market genetics to both the pedigree and commercial sheep farmer.”
Neil McGowan said: "We are really delighted to have received this award. The trophy has a lot of names on it of people who have inspired and helped us along the way. It’s great to see that since those early days, recording sheep has become more mainstream and is now much more accepted and understood than for those early pioneers."