A Dumfries and Galloway farm business has been named the winners of the prestigious AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year Award today (Wednesday 20 November) by AgriScot, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and award sponsors, Thorntons Solicitors.
Kingan Farms in New Abbey, run by the Kingan family, has emerged as the winners following an extensive gruelling from industry assessors and against stiff competition from other high calibre finalist farms from across Scotland.
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.
Kingan Farms pipped Scholland Farm in Shetland, run by Jamie Leslie, and Firth Farm in Melrose, run by the Livesey family, to win the award, which was presented by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP in the main ring at AgriScot at Royal Highland Centre.
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 tag and batched according to weight. Kingan Farms are self-sufficient in terms of grazing, grass silage and whole crop, with straw and some locally grown barley the only regular external inputs.
The Kingan family are proud of the close working relationships they maintain throughout their supply chain, from calf producers to processor all of which helps them meet the needs and quality expected by end users.
Kingan Farm has been using electronic identification (EID) management tags for more than 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 Farms uses a variety of different software, which can be accessed by each employee or contractor via an app to monitor performance.
The 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 quality assured Scotch Beef.
As well as winning the title, Kingan Farms also received 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.
Assessors, who visited all three finalist farms were 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.
Douglas Bell, QMS Director of Strategic Engagement, said that he was very impressed with the quality of applicants for this year’s award. He commented: “It was an absolute privilege to visit the finalists along with my fellow assessors. The enthusiasm and passion displayed by the management teams at each farm was truly inspiring. All three demonstrated business acumen of the highest level, combined with the dedication, commitment required to produce stock of the highest quality.
“In terms of our winners, I was particularly impressed with their attention to detail, not only in terms of the physical and financial performance of their finishing enterprise but also with their efforts to produce exactly what the market requires. Constant communication with their processor helps them fine tune their enterprise but also provides feedback which is passed on to their calf suppliers to help them make sound management decisions.”
AgriScot Chairman, Robert Neill commented: “I would like to thank all the farms entered for this award. The industry needs people who are willing to step forward as ambassadors, especially in the present climate.
“I would also give huge congratulations to our finalists, especially to our Scotch Beef Farm of the Year, Kingan Farms and to the farmers, families and teams behind these successful enterprises.”
The Kingan family of New Abbey, who run Kingan Farm, commented: “We are really pleased to be announced as winners of this award, especially when we were up against two other great farms. The hard work and commitment of all our team for producing top quality Scotch Beef PGI in a high welfare environment has paid off and it is great to receive recognition for this.”
As well as evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, those assessing the farms looked 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 were also assessed on the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer and others involved in the business, to efficiently produce high quality animals.
Kenneth Mackay, Partner and Head of the Land and Rural Business team at Thorntons, said: “These awards champion an industry which has the highest welfare and environmental standards in the world. We’re proud to support AgriScot and recognise the achievements of those within the agricultural sector. Congratulations to the deserving winner of the Scottish Beef Farm of the Year title for 2019.”
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.