Flockmasters were out in force to support the National Sheep Association's Scotsheep event staged at Over Finlarg, Tealing, Dundee, on Wednesday, which attracted a record breaking attendance with visitors from as far afield as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

With a dearth of events over the past three years as a result of the Covid pandemic, Scotsheep, staged by kind permission of host farmers, Robert and Hazel McNee, was in fact the first time many people were able to go out and catch up with friends old and new at a public occasion.

It was also an event to promote the best of Scottish agriculture, which David Leggat MBE, did in the opening ceremony, whilst also calling on much needed financial assistance to ensure the future of the industry.

"Scottish beef and lamb are fantastic products but we need Government support to help develop the farming industry in terms of infrastructure and production after 2024," said Mr Leggat, the former executive chairman of United Auctions, who is now farming in his own right.

"There are a record number of trade stands here and some 40 sheep breeds which is reflective of how important the industry is, so we must maintain a critical mass for the progression of livestock farming in Scotland and its benefits to countryside and the rural economy," he added.

The event was also a chance to look into new technology to boost future productivity with one in particular, carbon auditing highlighting where farmers can improve levels of efficiency.

For the first time, main sponsors Virgin Money collaborated with NSA and Carbon Metrics to run a total carbon audit of the host farm, Over Finlarg a 740-acre unit, with the results announced on the day.

By relying more on home-produced feeds and finishing all stock, the McNees sheep enterprise currently produces 21.45kg C02e per kg deadweight which is almost 30% less than the agrecalc average of 30.61 kg CO2e per kg deadweight.

Similarly, the beef herd is producing 27.62kg CO2 e per kg deadweight which, when benchmarked against the figure for “beef enterprises, all systems” from agrecalc (39.09kg CO2e per kg deadweight), is almost 30% less.

Simon Haley, Carbon Metrics director, said: “Overall, Over Finlarg is a really efficient and impressive farm! The farm is very efficient in terms of home-grown forage, soil analysis, livestock housing, breeding strategies and grazing management. The total emissions for both the beef and sheep enterprises came in well below the agrecalc averages which highlights how efficiency links with farm production.”

Brian Richardson, head of agriculture at Virgin Money added: “Carbon and the journey to Net Zero is a hot topic in the agri industry. Many farmers have already taken steps to evaluate their carbon output and put measures in place to reduce this, however others are still unsure about what they can do to change this. The aim of this audit has been to enable visitors to visualise what it entails and gain clarity on how they can turn the challenge to opportunity.”

As always the sale of ewe hoggs pulled in the greatest crowd which this year saw a Scotsheep record of £2000 per head paid for two Badgerface Texels from Stuart and Wendy Hunter, West Cairnhill, Insch. Their duo, full ET sisters are the result of a flush from an imported ewe that has already bred tup lambs to 4000gns and 3000gns and daughters to 5000gns. The sire is Cleenagh Biggy, a 1200gns purchase at Carlisle in partnership with Boylston. The ewe hoggs sold to Caroline Brown and Sheila Mason, Clapham, Lancs.

The Hunters also topped the Blue Texel section at £1500 for a pair selling to David Alexander, Millside, Galston. One is by Lyles Eagle and the other by Hunters Deerstalker.

The champion pair Texels from Robbie Wilson's Milnbank flock from Turriff, made £1600 to David Pickford, Cheshire. They are both by Castlecairn Doodlebro, which is a full brother to the 38,000gns Castlecairn Doodlebug.

The two black North Country Cheviot ewe hoggs from the McNees made £1300 each to Dean Anderson, Elgin, with the proceeds donated to Prostate Cancer.

A flying trade for the family's Texel hoggs with Beltex cross lambs at foot peaked at £250 per life.

LEADING awards

Breed society stands – 1, Bluefaced Leicester Sheep Breeders' Association; 2, North Country Cheviot Sheep Society; 3, Rough Fell Sheep Breeders' Association.

Indoor trade stands – 1, Logie Durno Sheep; 2, Luing Cattle Society; 3, Parkside Vets. Outdoor trade stands – 1, GP Smart and Son; 2, ATV Services Scot Ltd; 3, Ogilvy Spirits.

For full report and pictures see next week's Scottish Farmer (11th June 2022)