Producing top quality livestock to suit both the commercial and pedigree market is a challenge in itself, but Garry McDonald, of Stobo Home Farm, appears to be doing just that by relying on Bluefaced Leicester genetics.

Located just outside of Peebles on the Stobo Estate, Garry – better known as ‘Spud’ – alongside his wife, Ashley, and their two children, Taylor and Murray, manage H and C Seymour’s 4000-acre upland estate at Stobo Home Farm, which is comprised of 2500 acres of hill ground and 1500 acres of in-bye land.

Home to 800 Scotch Mule ewes, the farm also provides a base for Garry’s own Mid Auchengray Bluefaced Leicester flock, which he started as a hobby at just 16 years of age with the purchase of three foundation females from Burnfoot and the late Dod Kerr, from The Yett.

"You can't beat using the Bluefaced Leicester as a terminal sire when it comes to producing a fantastic breeding female, whether that be out of a Blackie, Cheviot or Swaledale – the cross progeny are always a popular choice in the sheep world," Garry said.

“A problem I witness, in my opinion, is that some Blackface ewes are becoming too small and wild, which can negatively affect the Scotch Mule progeny they produce.”

“However, the prolificacy, longevity and excellent coat of the Blue can be seen in their offspring and that is why the Scotch Mule and other Mules will always be in demand."

With quality rather than quantity always at the forefront, the Mid Auchengray flock totals 20 home-bred females, which in turn have produced shearling rams to £5000, at Kelso, in 2017. His flock is also regularly at the forefront of the breed averages too with his pen of eight last year cashing in at £1400.

"It's great when you sell a tup for a good price but it's the average that counts and Mid Auchengray is always within the top 10 flock averages at Kelso," stated Garry.

With top averages at tup sales each year, there is a method behind Garry's success in selling shearlings to top Scotch Mule breeders across the country and it's all to do with his tup lambs.

"There is always a worry when purchasing a shearling because they are unproven and no-one knows how they are going to cross or what their progeny will look like," Garry explained.

"With this is mind, I like to rent out 75% of my best tup lambs for a season to ensure that they are working and it's a great way of reassuring potential customers that they are buying quality.”

“When people buy our shearlings they already have security that he has been proven as a lamb,” Garry said, adding that he rents out his tup lambs to top Stirlingshire-based Scotch Mule breeders.

Garry also has high standards when selecting a new terminal sire to introduce to his flock.

"When buying a tup, I always look for a top quality skin on them – if the animal has that then everything else will follow. It doesn’t matter how fancy a head the animal has, he has to have a great jacket on him," he said.

"Tups that have done well for the flock in previous years include D6 Riddings, H8 Ora View and F15 Cottage,” he added.

Garry has built a strong relationship with the team at Lochlyoch, so much so that he purchases 160 Scotch Mule ewe lambs from them each year at Lanark for the farm at Stobo, with all lambs being sired by his Mid Auchengray Blue tups, including the shared ram, L6 Mid Auchengray.

"It's great to be able to buy ewe lambs that have been sired by our home-bred tups. It allows me to witness how they go on and perform – not just for myself, but for other commercial breeders that are buying Mid Auchengray tups," Garry commented.

“The reason that I specifically buy ewe lambs from Lochlyoch is because they are kind, milky and they LIVE!” he said, adding that the majority of the Stobo Mules live to six years old and always leave the lambing shed with two strong lambs by their side.

Garry also buys a pens worth of Scotch Mule ewe lambs from the Fallows family, based at Burnton, who he shares some of his stock tups with.

Tups go out with the ewes late October and the prolificacy of the Blues never disappoint when the pedigrees scan at around 220% and the Mules at 200%, each year. The farm's Scotch Mule ewes are all put to Suffolk sires to produce both a quality fat lamb and breeding female.

"Suffolk cross lambs work really well here as we can sell the wedder lambs fat straight off their mothers and the ewe lambs for breeding purposes,” Garry said. "They finish quicker and, if they’re used for breeding, they have few mastitis or lameness issues. All in all, they make a quality cross lamb."

Garry purchases his Suffolk tups from Scott and Gavin Brown's Capielaw flock, based at Gorebridge and also from the Douglas family of Catslackburn.

“I like the tups from these two flocks because they all have a tremendous coat and dark head on them,” he explained.

Lambing kicks off mid-March, with all ewes lambing indoors for ease of management and fed silage and rolls, which helps them achieve a lambing percentage of 200% in the Blues and 185% in the Mules.

Once born, lamb's navels are sprayed with iodine, as well as being dosed with Spectam and given 1ml of Pen and Strep to ensure lambs are covered against any disease. All lambs are kept indoors for one week before going out to grass, depending on the weather.

"Once the lambs are out to grass, they receive no feeding," explained Garry. "With Suffolk genetics being present in the cross lambs, we have no issues achieving daily live weight gain goals on grass alone and all lambs are finished quicker."

A total of 400 ewe lambs are sold straight off the farm privately, for breeding, through Stuart Wood, of the Woodies flock, in Aberdeenshire and RT William’s, while the remaining wedder lambs are sold through Woodheads Livestock, in Turriff.

With all lambs off the farm by October, this year's crop achieved over £100 per head. Garry also sells around six Bluefaced Leicester females privately each year, with the remainder retained for breeding.

It's very much a family affair at Stobo Home Farm though, as while Garry is responsible for all the farm work, he is already training up his replacement in the form of 10-year-old son, Murray.

"You'll never find a more hard working and passionate boy than Muzz – he loves anything to do with sheep, especially the Blue’s and he is totally tractor daft!" said Garry.

"He has helped me dress and prepare the Blues for shows and has competed in a variety of young handlers competitions – his work ethic and passion for farming would put some of the older generation to shame," he added, pointing out that the flock has made its mark in the show ring at Dalkeith, Biggar and the Royal Highland in years gone by.

"I have secured some championship rosettes with some of my Leicesters in the past and I would like to get back into the show ring again, however, having until recently 100 cattle back at the farm to tend to and ever increasing flock numbers, there just wasn’t the time to get sheep properly prepared," he stated.

As well as Murray, Garry also relies on the support of wife, Ashley, and daughter, Taylor, to lend a hand during the farm's busiest times.

Commenting on a post Brexit agricultural industry and the future of farming, Garry concluded: "Brexit is a really worrying time for us farmers as no one knows what the prices are going to be. If tariffs are introduced for beef and lamb, then it will kill our industry, however, we first have overcome Covid-19 in order to move forward.”

"I'm also concerned that there are not enough young people coming into the industry to take over the reins and to do the job right, especially within the livestock industry. However, you'll always need the Blue to produce a good breeding female and that is why I believe the future of the breed will remain bright."

For now though, it's very much all hands on deck in preparation ahead of the upcoming breed sale, at Lanark on Saturday, September 26, where Garry will be first in the ring with his cracking team of eight shearlings and later with four tremendous tup lambs forward.


  • Garry works at the upland farm, Stobo Home, owned by H and C Seymour, which totals some 4000 acres comprised of 2500 hill ground and 1500 in-bye land. The Stobo Estate is currently up for sale.
  • Home to an 800-strong flock of Scotch Mules, with the addition of pure-bred North Country Lairg-type Cheviots on the hill and a small pedigree flock of Bluefaced Leicesters.
  • The Stobo Estate is also a thriving shooting estate with pheasants and Japanese Sika deer.
  • Previously had 100 head of cattle that were sold in February due to lack of labour.
  • Bluefaced Leicester shearlings and tup lambs are sold through Kelso each year, with females being sold privately off the farm.
  • Scotch Mules are crossed with a Suffolk to produce both fat lambs and breeding females.


  • Best advice?: My advise would be to keep the skin right on your Bluefaced Leicester tups – that's the number one rule! Do not follow the fashion, unless its right.
  • Best holiday you’ve been on?: Holidays have not always been possible due to a large workload but I would have to say the Rangers Football Club's away games at Hamburg – I thoroughly enjoy them!
  • Best animal you’ve seen?: Any good proven shearling with a good skin does it for me.
  • Any hobbies?: Apart from the Bluefaced Leicesters, I am a huge Rangers RFC fan and follow the club everywhere they go! I also have a love for vintage tractors, which I have used in tractor runs to support the charity, Macmillan Cancer Support UK.
  • Favourite restaurant?: Anywhere that serves a good steak and cold Guinness!