The three finalists of the AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year Award were announced today (issue date) by AgriScot, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and award sponsors, Thorntons Solicitors.
While the finalist farms – from Shetland, Melrose and Dumfries – operate very different types of beef production systems, all those involved in running them share a common enthusiasm to improve productivity and efficiency. They also share a passion to produce high quality, quality assured Scotch Beef PGI.
The finalists are: Scholland Farm, run by Jamie Leslie; Firth Farm in Melrose run by Rob, Kath and Iain Livesey; and, Kingan Farms in New Abbey run by the Kingan family.
As well as demonstrating a strong commitment to improving the health and welfare of their cattle, the three finalist farms are looking to impress the award assessors with their efforts to strengthen the success of their businesses by adopting new ideas and initiatives.
The aim of the AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year Award 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 PGI.
The recipient will receive a £500 cheque as well as a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a Scotch Beef Club restaurant. The club, run by QMS, has around 150 members committed to serving top quality Scotch Beef PGI.
The award recipient will be revealed on Wednesday 20 November at AgriScot. The announcement will be made at noon in the main ring.
Assessors for the award this year are Robert Neill, AgriScot Chairman, Douglas Bell, QMS Director of Strategic Engagement and Niall Jeffrey, who was awarded AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year in 2018. Assessors will visit the finalist farms in the coming weeks.
Douglas Bell, QMS Director of Strategic Engagement, said that he was very impressed with the quality of applicants for this year’s award. He said: “The quality of applicants for this year’s award are indicative of the world class farming operations we have here in Scotland, fuelled by individuals with passion for what they do. I look forward to joining my fellow assessors and seeing first-hand their dedication to producing high-quality, Scotch Beef PGI.”
AgriScot Chairman Robert Neill added: “AgriScot is an important platform to showcase the best of beef production in Scotland and I’m delighted that we are able to recognise high-calibre farms, like these. It is important that AgriScot showcases the best of beef production in Scotland and we are delighted to recognise these finalists.”
As well as evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, those assessing the farms will look for evidence of the uptake of new ideas to improve efficiency and profitability and whether the businesses had an eye on the market for the end product.
The farms will also be assessed on the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer and others involved in the business, to efficiently produce high quality animals.
Kenneth Mackay, partner in the Land and Rural Business team Thorntons Solicitors, said: “We are proud to be sponsors of both the Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year and Scotch Beef Farm of the Year awards. AgriScot is keen to recognise all elements of the agricultural sector and we are delighted to be able to help them achieve that goal.”
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 required to be members of QMS’s quality assurance scheme. Ends
Notes to editors
· Firth Farm in Melrose is a tenanted partnership between Kath and Rob Livesey and their son Iain. Firth Farm is approximately 300-hectare mixed enterprise near Lilliesleaf, Melrose where they run 100 pedigree Salers suckler cows, 60 additional crossbred store calves purchased annually from the Isle of Mull all sired by Firth Farm bulls, as well as 1000 mule ewes. Firth Farm have utilised social media as an effective marketing tool and regularly post photos and updates to boost their profile which has resulted in cattle sold through the platform. The aim of Firth Farm is to produce natural breeding cattle who can look after themselves without too much interference and believe that fertility, and a high number of live calves bon in a tight consecutive time period, is the foundation required for a profitable beef farming enterprise resulting in more calves to sell and a larger selection of replacements for the herd.
· Kingan Farms is a family partnership, a 475-hectare-owned and tenanted enterprise across four locations in Dumfries. The Kingan family run a beef finishing system with a turnover of approximately 1,400 cattle per year – a mixture of continental and native breeds. On arrival, all cattle are weighed, tagged with an EID and batched dependent on weight. Kingan Farms are self-sufficient with grazing, grass silage and whole crop with straw and additional locally grown barley the only regular external purchase. The Kingan family are proud of their close working relationships from calf producer to processor to meet the needs and quality expected by end users. Kingan Farm have been using EID management tags now for over 10 years and have adopted new software on a Bluetooth system which has improved cattle handling and monitoring and has also allowed a paperless system at the crush. Alongside their cattle management systems, Kingan use a variety of different software such as Harvest Yield, Muddy Boots and Greenlight Grower, which can be accessed by each employee or contractor via an app to monitor performance. Kingan family also use social media such as Facebook to help tell their story and although it doesn’t play a part in improving efficiency or profitability, they believe sharing their experience will create an understanding with consumers of what it takes to produce good quality Scotch Assured Beef.
· Scholland is 350-hectare farm on Shetland where Mr Leslie farms in partnership with his father John and runs 80 Aberdeen Angus suckler cows with progeny predominately finished and sold through local butcher shop. Scholland is also home to 900 breeding ewes which are a mixture of Shetland, Cheviot and Texel with Suffolk used as terminal sire. Mr Leslie runs a spring calving herd with calving to start in early March. Cows get nine weeks with an Angus bull and heifers six weeks. Stock are turned out in early April, where they go into a paddock grazing system to allow Mr Leslie to allocate grass, but to also help ground conditions during the early grazing season. The team at Scholland have worked hard on four key points – cow to calf weaning ratio, kilogram output per hectare, fertility and wintering costs – to maximise their performance to improve profit. During the summer months cows and calves operate in a leader follower grazing system. In addition, Mr Leslie has adopted a deferred grazing system for his suckler cows after winter which has resulted in a saving of £92 per cow in wintering feed and machinery costs
AgriScot, the farm business event for all farmers and all sectors takes place at Ingliston, Edinburgh on Wednesday 20 November 2019.
Thorntons Solicitors has been recognised as one of the leaders in the field of Rural and Agricultural Law in Scotland and have grown to become one of Scotland’s largest legal firms. Thorntons offers a complete service for rural property, business and personal matters. Our team are an active part of the rural community. Thorntons rural team advise farmers, landowners, rural businesses and land agents.
· QMS is the public body responsible for helping the Scottish red meat sector improve its sustainability, efficiency and profitability and maximise its contribution to Scotland’s economy.
· QMS promotes the PGI labelled Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb brands in the UK and abroad and promotes Scottish pork products under the Specially Selected Pork logo.
· Please note that the use of the word Scotch in the Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI brands is correct and should not be substituted for an alternative such as Scots or Scottish. The history of the use of the word Scotch in this way, traces back to the 18th century.
· The quality assurance schemes run by QMS cover more than 90% of livestock farmed for red meat in Scotland. They offer consumers in the UK and overseas the legal guarantee that the meat they buy has come from animals that have spent their whole lives being raised to some of the world’s strictest welfare standards.
· Scotland’s beef, lamb and pork producers make an important contribution to the country’s economic, social and environmental sustainability, contributing over £2 billion to the annual GDP of Scotland and supporting around 50,000 jobs (many in fragile rural areas) in the farming, agricultural supply and processing sectors.