The Wights of Midlock have always been synonymous with producing superior pedigree and commercial sheep and beef cattle but they are about to add another string to their bow as host farmers of one of the UK’s largest forestry events.

Well accustomed to staging open days for their renowned Texel, Blackface and Bluefaced Leicester flocks, and indeed the family’s pedigree Charolais herd, Forestry Expo Scotland promises to be the biggest on-farm attraction yet.

The two-day event on Thursday, August 22 and Friday, August 23, at Little Clyde, Elvanfoot, looks set to be a cracker too, with numerous farmers and forestry specialists from throughout the UK and Europe looking to attend. And with each day kicking off at 9am, visitors will have plenty of time to view a range of forestry demonstrations, get advice from those in the know about planting trees while also taking advantage of the huge array of trade stands boasting the latest technology in the industry.

Ideally located for those attending from the north, south, east and west, Little Clyde is just one of several units which make up the Wight’s vast hill farming enterprise in Lanarkshire which now extends to some 7500+acres.

In all, the family farm in excess of 4500 breeding ewes and followers; 100 pedigree Charolais cattle and 400 commercial cattle, with all based around the home farm at Midlock, Crawford, just outside Abington.

More impressive is the fact that while the farm has been home to the family for almost a century, virtually all the work is done by family members – three generations of them. At the top of the tree are twin brothers, John and Allan Wight and their respective wives, Netta and Janette.

Allan’s son, also Allan and John’s two sons, Colin and Jack are also partners in the business.

Son Allan his wife Karen and their family of Ben, Katie and Andrew, are based at Midlock, where all the pure-bred Blackies are run alongside the business’ 80-ewe Bluefaced Leicester flock and Karen’s pedigree flock of 50 Texels.

Furthest away at Carwood, just outside Biggar, Colin his wife Fiona and their three daughters Susan, Alison and Lyndsay, run 1000 commercial ewes while Fiona owns her own flock of 50 pedigree Suffolks.

The 50-cow pedigree Carwood Charolais herd is also based here as are full-time employees, tractorman Kevin Blyth and stockman, James Dunlop.

Meanwhile Jack and his wife Elma, daughters Laura and Julie and son John, live at Townfoot, Symington, where the family produce large numbers of Scotch Mule ewe lambs from the business’ large crossing Blackface ewe flock, to be sold at St Boswells and Stirling.

Townfoot is also home to a smaller flock of pedigree Charollais sheep which are in Elma’s name, with the younger generation taking on their own Beltex flock. The Midlock pedigree Charolais herd is also based at Townfoot.

With the farm rising to 2500ft above sea-level and large swathes of Molinia grasses and heather hill, down to improved pasture on the banks of the river Clyde, the breeding policy is similar to that of UK’s stratified sheep system and reliant on home-bred genetics throughout.

At the top of the hill are the Blackies bred pure at Midlock, Grains and Crimp Cramp, with the latter two ‘herded by John and Allan’s nephew, Brian Gilchrist, who also assists with the commercial cattle at Midlock.

At the home farm at Midlock, Allan and Ben and Iain Clarke work the pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters, Texels, and Blackies.

In all, the business sells in excess of 250 tups every year from as far afield as Dingwall in Ross-shire right down to Hawes, which in recent years have witnessed Blackface ram lambs sell to £60,000 while shearlings have sold to £48,000 at Lanark.

Meanwhile, the Bluefaced Leicester flock boasts the record priced shearling sold at Kelso of £13,500 and up until last year, the record breed price of £37,000 for a ram lamb sold at Hawes.

And if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, the family’s Texel flock has seen shearling sales up to £23,000 at Kelso and 24,000gns for a lamb at Lanark.

Add to that just shy of 900 females cashed every year – again from as far north as Dingwall right down to Hawes – to include Blackface gimmers, ewe lambs and draft ewes; pedigree Bluefaced Leicester and Texel females and 400 Scotch Mule ewe lambs which in the past have regularly topped the sales at St Boswells and Lanark, and it’s a busy place for all and at all times.

Lambing starts at the beginning of February and can last through until the start of June, while the first of the breeding sheep sales kick off at the end of August and last through until the end of February with Blackie females.

Not to be outdone, the cattle enterprise which in the past has seen Charolais bulls sell to 21,000gns at Stirling, with others sold privately, also requires a fair bit of management when the 400 head of commercial cattle are run over the three units, and most calved to a Charolais.

It is nevertheless, the sheep that take priority at Midlock, when all flocks are based on home-bred genetics and the Blackface and Bluefaced Leicesters very much inter linked when producing top end Scotch Mule ewe lambs as well.

However, while there is no doubting the superior quality breeding stock in all sectors of the business, it’s the enthusiasm and dedication to continually improve that helps to keep them at the fore front.

“We’re always striving to improve in everything we do, whilst also looking to keep ahead of the fashions,” said Allan.

“There is no perfect animal, but we always look to produce sheep that are first and foremost correct, with a good shape, body, skin and top line with the breed character to match,” he added.

With all females home-bred, the only way to introduce new genetics is through bought in rams which are purchased based on the needs of the flock.

In saying that, the family has found that quite often it can be home-bred rams that breed some of the better and most uniform stock.

With all male lambs from Midlock left entire, those that don’t make the grade join the wedder lambs from Grains and Crimp Cramp to be finished off rape and kale grown at Midlock and Townfoot.

As it is, in excess of 1000 lambs are sold finished from the farm through Dunbia weighing 17-19kg deadweight and most killing out with R3L grades.

If the sales aren’t enough to keep everyone on their toes, the Wights are also keen showmen and women, which they find is an ideal way to advertise the type of stock they are breeding.

Regular winners at the Royal Highland Show, in the Blackface, Texel, Bluefaced Leicester and Scotch Mule sections they also boast the enviable feet of having secured three championships in the same year in the Blackface, Bluefaced Leicester and Scotch Mule lines just last year.

They’re regularly in the silverware at Peebles, Abington, Biggar and Moffat too, while their cattle often come up with the goods at Lesmahagow, East Kilbride, Peebles and Biggar.

With so much pride and passion in everything that goes on at Midlock, there is no doubt the forth coming Forestry Expo will be an event not to be missed … Just watch this space …