By Kathryn Dick

One of Scotland’s leading fencing contracting businesses, Duncan Fisher Fencing Contractors (DFFC), based at Logiealmond, in Perthshire, is celebrating 30 years of providing a reliable and exceptional service to both forestry and agricultural clients up and down the country.

The business was founded in 1991 by livestock farmer, Duncan Fisher, who also manages a contract farming enterprise – DF Contracting – with wife, Angeline, and daughter, Stephanie, who both help manage the 2000 commercial Mule and Beltex cross breeding ewes and some 70 head of Simmental beef cattle.

“I was given an opportunity to take on a small farming partnership with the owner in 1991 and had to diversify straight away to generate extra income, so I took on contract shearing in the summer and fencing in the winter,” commented Duncan.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the late John Finnie, who took me under his wing and taught me all I know about hill fencing in Argyll and Lochaber.”

In 2007, when the partnership ended and the Forestry Commission procurement processes changed, Duncan started taking on more fencing contracts, however from 2011 an opportunity arose to take on a contract farming agreement at The Groan Farm, which is where the team is now based.

With a busy livestock enterprise at home also requiring Duncan’s attention, his brother Alistair joined the business in 2016.

“Alistair took over the day-to-day running of the fencing business when we also started to grow the farming enterprise, as it became too much for me to handle by myself,” said Duncan.

“The business has grown two-fold in that time and now we carry out 80,000 to 100,000m of hill fencing each year. There’s very few contractors that would take on some of the work we undertake in very steep and remote places, with some jobs involving our workers walking over 2km out onto steep ground in all weathers just to get to the fence line,” he added.

“Farming was always my passion and what I like to do but we’ve managed to get to where we are because of the fact that fencing brought in an extra income, which made all the difference.”

With DFFC Ltd having built a strong reputation within the industry of rarely turning down a job, the scale and nature of the business’ contracts can vary and this has led to Alistair and Duncan having to overcome some challenging hurdles.

“We normally take on a few larger contracts each year, ranging between 10-20km for clients such as Forestry and Land Scotland, Scottish Woodlands and Sylvestrus to name a few. These jobs can take place in any part of the country and can end up being a logistical challenge,” explained Alistair.

“Sometimes we require the involvement of a helicopter to help distribute materials, as well as occasionally having to take off the old fence wire to be disposed of – gone are the days of leaving rolls of old fence wire on the hill!”

The business is also about to undertake work on behalf of Forestry and Land Scotland at the Rest and Be Thankful, installing 8000m of deer fencing to assist with the stabilisation of the hillside in order to try and mitigate the landslips that continually close the A83.

“Being from a farming family, brought up at Ardlui on Loch Lomondside, we know how important the route is to the Argyll communities so hopefully we can play a very small part in trying to help solve the problem,” he added. “We also currently have active contracts in Caithness, Inverness shire, Cowal, Lochaber and the stunning Glen Affric – so we are always kept busy!”

Machinery development has played a key factor over the past 15 years and the industry has witnessed the introduction of post chappers and net and wire dispensers, which has led to fencing being an all round easier and more efficient job to undertake.

“Due to the majority of our contracts taking place on steep terrain and non accessible ground, it’s not always suitable for such equipment to be used, however, we do use post chappers wherever possible to speed up the process,” explained Duncan.

“We have two Hagglund BV206 ATV’s that can go places other ATVs wouldn’t get near and are great for carrying 200-300m of materials in one load. They are also great for our workers to shelter from some horrific weather they can experience and they would be our best equipment investment.”

Alistair added: “Investments in machinery are great, but I think our best investment is in our workforce. We rely on a loyal and trusted core of sub-contractors, which is headed up by John Bannerman and Ewan MacKay, in the south, and James Tomlinson and Nicholas Peel, in the north. These guys are invaluable and play a huge part in our business, and we can trust them to represent our business on the ground when we can’t be there.”

As important as the equipment and a loyal workforce is proving to be to the business, Alistair and Duncan also ensure that all workers have the correct and proper training and work experience before being trusted on any site.

All operatives are required to have their EFAW+F (Emergency First Aid at Work) training specifically tailored for forestry workers, NPTC (National Proficiency Test Council) qualification for ATV Sit in and Astride, as well as tracked machines and chainsaw tickets for crosscut and maintenance, small trees and even windblow.

“Health and safety is very important to us and to the sector in general now and most customers, even in the private sector, now require these qualifications before you even get on site, so it’s important that this is kept up to date at all times.

“You can have all the tackle you want, but if you don’t have the relevant tickets and paperwork in place you don’t get the opportunities to work with larger clients,” explained Alistair.

For any young farmers or others thinking of starting out on their own, Duncan and Alistair have some words of wisdom for any future budding fencers.

“Learn from your peers, work alongside them and not against them, and take pride in your work. A good tidy job goes along way to repeat business and word of mouth, which has played a huge part in our business from day one,” said Duncan.

With the Scottish Government setting a target for more than 12,000 ha of ground to be planted with trees each year, there are a variety of new woodland creation schemes currently underway, and combined with what looks to be a prosperous future for the industry, the brothers are hopeful that their family business will continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.

“Farmers and landowners are turning less favourable ground into woodland and are taking advantage of the grants available for these schemes,” commented Alistair.

“At the moment, the future of the industry is looking very good. Who knows what will happen with Brexit, however, we are already noticing some significant increases in the material costs.”

“In terms of our business, there is always room for growth! We have had a very good few years and even during the pandemic, last year turned out to be our busiest to date, absolutely smashing our targets and that’s with taking two months out during the initial lockdown when we more or less had to pause all operations,” Alistair added.

“We have been very lucky to continue working as forestry and agriculture are rightly classed as essential services. We don’t take anything for granted though and we are very grateful to be so busy, as we know many businesses in other sectors have been hit so hard,” he concluded.


  • Biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?: Being able to find the right people to work with.
  • Best achievement?: Being able to work with each other! All jokes aside, last year under the circumstances was a colossal achievement by everyone involved. We're also very proud of the lion enclosure we helped design and install for the Five Sisters Zoo, in West Calder in 2015.
  • Biggest regret?: No regrets, best to look forward, learn from mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen again!
  • Abiding memory? Duncan – "I would say being in a helicopter going over a ridge near Ballachulish when the pilot thought it would be good to scare the pants off all of the boys!" Alistair – "Being in the helicopter never gets boring. I love it. I flew from Inverness to Applecross a few years ago and flying over the Bealach Na Ba covered in snow was simply stunning. Sadly, at the moment, recce flights are off the cards but hopefully will be able to very soon."