21st August 2013

Sheep producers invited to “Performance for Profit” Workshops in Dumfriesshire and Wigtown

Sheep producers currently debating their ram purchasing decision in the run up to the 2013 ram sales are being urged to attend one of a series of workshops being held by Quality Meat Scotland’s Scottish Sheep Strategy group next week.

Two of the free workshops, aimed at helping with the decision-making process behind ram purchase, are being held at Kirvennie Farm, Wigtown on August 27th and Townfood Farm, Mouswald, Dumfriesshire on August 28th. Both start at 7.30pm.

The focus of the workshops is to discuss the factors affecting the profitability of sheep farming and the impact that the ram buying decision can have on the overall output of the flock.

Katie Keiley, Scottish Sheep Strategy Development Officer (south), said: “Tups have a major influence on long-term flock performance so taking the time to carefully choose the right one is crucial.

“The choice of tup will influence the number of lambs born, the conformation of those lambs, how fast they grow and the carcase quality of the end product. If you are looking to breed your own replacements, he will also influence the milkiness of his daughters and how prolific they are likely to be.”

Katie added: “Most importantly, once his genes are in your flock, you will rapidly see these traits multiply. So if you are interested in hearing about the practicality of how performance recorded stock could help the profitability of your flock, come along to Kirvennie Farm, Wigtown next Tuesday.”

The format of the event will be a practical and interactive workshop where producers will have the opportunity to look at different rams along with their performance figures and use this information to make an informed choice on the best ram for your flock. The workshop is aimed at all sheep farmers, whatever their system, looking to improve the output from their flock.

Kirvennie is run by Niall and Graham Armstrong who are farming without Single Farm Payment and striving to make every acre pay its way. The brothers run a flock of some 1100 ewes, 80 cows and 32,000 chickens on 740 acres.

The Armstrongs have replaced part of their traditional Mule x Texel flock with some New Zealand Romneys. The essence of their plan is to use genetics and grassland management to lower their costs of production and improve the efficiency of their flock.

“We aim to achieve the same scan rate in our Romneys as we do with the mules, but winter them at a lower cost with fewer concentrates. Therefore increase profitability by maintaining output but lowering production costs,” said Niall.

“Genetics and ram selection are a vital part of our strategy here at Kirvennie in order that we have more control over our flock’s performance. We need to be breeding replacement females that work hard to raise our baseline profit. Farming without subsidy means we cannot afford to carry passengers!”

Townfoot is run by Bruce and Linda Goldie, along with their two children, Thomas (4) and Isla (2) and Bruce's parents, Jim and Kay.

Townfoot is an LFA unit on the edge of the Lochar Moss Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  The farm runs a flock of 80 pedigree Texel sheep and a herd of 100 pedigree Limousin cattle.

The Goldies’ flock of Texels has been performance recorded since 2002 after the purchase of the nucleus of the Alwent flock in 2001.

The Goldie family aims for their flock to produce sound commercial rams with length, skin and conformation.

Embryo transfer and AI are used to accelerate the top genetics within the flock (and their cattle herd) and rams are sold annually at Carlisle, Lanark, Kelso and off-farm.  Females are also sold off-farm and at Carlisle.

Details of the other forthcoming “Performance for Profit” workshops being held in the coming weeks are as follows:

1. N & D McGowan, Incheoch Farm, Alyth, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH11 8HT  - Thu 29th Aug 2013 2. J Elliot, Roxburgh Mains, Kelso, Roxburghshire, TD5 8NJ  - Wed 4th Sept 2013 3. Kelso Ram Sales -  Fri 13th Sept 2013

All workshops begin at 7.30pm. For more information, please contact Katie Keiley or Michael Blanche at QMS on0131 472 4039 or visit the website at www.scottishsheepstrategy.org.uk

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