A Dumfries and Galloway farm was today (Wednesday 16th November) named as the 2016 Scotch Beef Farm of the Year.
Drumdow farm, near Stranraer, run by Robert Parker and his wife Eileen, was announced as the overall winner during a presentation at AgriScot.
Drumdow farm runs 170 Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cross cows and calves (otherwise known as Black Baldies) and a further 40 Hereford and Angus cross bulled heifers. All cows and bulls are outwintered on a 52 hectare moor. Cows are home-bred with heifers joining the herd calving as two-year-olds. The farm also has 150 Easycare ewes and gimmers.
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: Seggarsdean Farm, Haddington, East Lothian run by Andrew Kennedy and Sons and Corrimony farm, Glenurquhart, Inverness, run by David Girvan in partnership with his parents Lindsay and Mamie.
Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, extended his congratulations to the Parkers.
He said: “Farms like Drumdow are the mainstay of our livestock industry and I whole heartedly congratulate the Parker family on this award. This year’s winner and the other finalists should be commended for their commitment to building sustainable and viable farming businesses. Their success and commitment augurs well for the future of the beef industry in Scotland.”
Representatives from AgriScot and QMS visited all three finalist farms and were particularly impressed with the Parkers’ commitment to continually improving the efficiency of their farm.
“It was a pleasure to visit all of the finalist farms all of which demonstrated high quality beef production systems”, said Douglas Bell, Head of Industry Development with QMS.
He added: “What particularly impressed us with Robert’s production system was how he has designed and tailored it to suit the resources available at Drumdow. A ten-year programme of criss-crossing Hereford and Aberdeen Angus, using carefully selected bulls, has produced a high quality herd of ‘Black Baldies’ which, when combined with Robert’s management skills, is achieving high levels of technical and financial performance.”
Andrew Moir, Chairman of Agriscot added: “We are delighted that we have a farm dedicated to producing quality meat in an easily managed system and - with climate change and carbon footprint moving to the top of the agenda - a sustainable way.”
Robert Parker said he was delighted and astounded to have won.
“My thanks go to my wife Eileen and our stockman Jim McCurdy who has been working with the Parker family for 45 years now.
“I am really happy with the performance of our cows and the balance in the breed now. However, there is always scope for improvement and we’ll keep looking for ways to do that.”
During the farm visits the award assessors looked to gauge the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer, and family and staff where relevant, to efficiently produce high quality animals. They also looked for evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, and how the finalists adopted new ideas to improve the efficiency and profitability of their farms. Finalists were also asked to demonstrate their commitment to animal health and welfare as well as their ability to keep an eye on the market for the end product.
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.