Reduced inputs and increased production are the ultimate goals in all farming systems and two which Drymen-based farmer, Craig Harrower has down to a T at Craigievern.

Situated on the edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Craigievern is home to second-generation farmer, Craig and his wife, Jane, who strive to breed the best commercial stock possible.

Craig's parents, Willie and Margaret secured ownership of this 760-acre hill and reclaimed grassland unit, in November 1962, where the Harrowers run a mixed flock of 350 Swaledale, Texel and cross-bred ewes.

"Swales cope well on the upland ground surrounding the farm, as do the Texels. As well as breeding them pure, we also cross the two breeds, which produces a lamb with a good carcase and conformation from the Texel sire with the hardiness and resilience of the Swaledale ewe," commented Craig.

"The ewes seem to thrive on the hill, even on the poorer moorland grazing, however, we have had fluke issues in previous years due to the ground being so wet."

As a result of that and two new on-farm ventures, the couple decided to half their flock number four years ago.

Despite the reduced numbers on the hill, the remainder of the flock is paying dividends, producing scanning percentages of 161% amongst the Swales, 180% in the Texels and 183% in the cross-bred ewes.

Lambing later in April and May, compared to March as in previous years, has also made life so much easier.

Craig added: "Lambing later in the season has made for an all-round easier experience.

"A later start, when the weather and grazing conditions are more likely to be better for the ewes and lambs is far better for everyone."

With the Harrowers producing, on average, 560 lambs per year, some 60 to 70 are kept as replacement females, with the remainder finished on farm.

"We aim to have our earliest lambs away at six-months-old with the last of the batch going at about a year old. However, we do also try to sell lambs when trade is at its peak rather than when they are ready.

"Lambing that bit later in the season has also enabled up to reduce our feed costs in that both ewes and lambs don't have to be fed as much and are in turn more reliant on available grass."

By concentrating on breeding the best commercial stock, the Harrowers have built up a good reputation at Caledonian Marts', Stirling and Lanark auction mark – where the majority of their lambs are sold.

In a typical year, their top draw lambs, finished solely off grass, achieve in excess of £80 per head.

Craig also breeds pure Texel tups for his own breeding purposes and to sell on to other farmers.

"I occasionally buy new stock tups at Lanark. I like a tup with a good, full skin, plenty size and one with easy lambing traits, like a smaller head. Our current favourite is a Haddo tup – he's produced some real shapey lambs this year.”

Purchasing Swaledale tups does require a bit more effort though, as Craig now has to travel to Hawes or Kirkby Stephen to buy replacement stock rams.

“We have kept some home-bred Swale tups for breeding from or selling, over the years. They have good horns which our late uncle, Jimmy Harrower, used in making some really good crooks,” Craig added.

As well as the sheep, Craigievern is also home to 70 continental cross beef cows, which are housed in cubicles from November through until April.

"Cattle numbers have been lower in recent years but we are slowly building numbers back up and hoping to have around 90 head in the next few years," Jane explained.

Replacements are bought every year, through Ayr market, in the form of continental heifers with calves at foot, which in turn are either put to one of the farm's Charolais or Limousin bulls.

"One of the better Charolais bulls we've had was Auchenrivoch Euro, from David Henderson at Banton. He left some nice calves and I rarely lost any from him. I've also been keen on cross bulls, either Limousin cross Charolais, or Limousin cross British Blues, which leave good sized, easily-calved calves with a good carcase," Craig added.

The herd is split into two groups consisting of 35 spring and 35 autumn calvers, with virtually all calving out on the hill to save on bedding costs.

When they do get housed, they are fed a mixture of home-grown silage and draff from the local brewery.

Calves are crept fed an Easterton rearer nut from Marshall Owen, Easterton, Kirkintilloch and sold directly off their mothers at around eight-months-old.

Calves are then sold either through Cale or UA marts in Stirling at around 320kg, with last years sale averages working out at 247p per kg or £800 per head.

Fertility and productivity are key here, with cows rarely getting a second chance at the bull.

"As long as they are rearing a calf each year and their vessels are sound, we'll keep our cows on for another year – our oldest cow here is 17-years-old!”

Craig and Jane have also ventured into poultry selling hens, ducks and eggs from the farm gate, with the occasional help from their three daughters; Kelly, Helen and Shona.

This diversification project established in 2008, has become so popular that Jane now works at home full-time to ensure the smooth-running of the business.

"There was always some sort of poultry present on the farm, even during Craig's childhood, so he's always had an interest and it's something I've also grown to love," commented Jane.

"I bought my first batch of 500 day-olds, in 2008, and things have just escalated ever since."

Currently, Craigievern poultry is comprised of 40 laying ducks and just over 100 laying hens, with Jane normally buying in a batch of 120 day-old ducks and up to 600 day-old hybrid chicks every month. The family supply hybrid laying birds, as well as a selection of pure breeds and day-old birds, all year round. They also supply day-old hybrids throughout Scotland.

"It's normal for us to hold a total of 1500 birds, of various ages, on the farm at any one time, however, with the current COVID-19 situation, the demand for birds is crazy right now – I can't keep up!" Jane added.

"We breed three types of ducks including Kortlang Whites, Khaki Campbell's and White Indian Runner ducks. We also have a large selection of pure-bred hens including White Silkies, Wellsummers, the Large Light Sussex and many more – all have proved very popular."

Once chicks have arrived on farm, Jane feeds them on a chick crumb feed until they are around six-weeks-old, before moving them onto a rearer pellet. Chicks are reared in containers until seven-weeks of age, when they are then moved outside into runs. At 10-weeks of age, chicks are then put onto a mash.

"Once the birds are outside in the outdoor runs, they are a little slower growing but we prefer not to force them," explained Jane.

Birds are straight off the farm, from £3 per head as chicks to £16 at point of lay, however the cost of a batch of chicks can vary each year depending on breed and demand.

The Harrowers also breed pigs for consumption and entertainment!

"Each year, we travel up and down the country attending agricultural shows to run the pig racing event," commented Craig. "We take the piglets as far up as Appin and Kirriemuir, as well as attending out local shows at Drymen and Gargunnock – it's always a great laugh."

Outwith racing, the Harrower's also rear their piglets for pork, producing around 40 piglets per year from their two sows and single boar.

"Much like the poultry, we don't force the pigs and usually send them to be butchered at around nine-months of age, which gives them a bit more flavour when butchered," Craig added.

"The breeds we work with include the Large White boar and cross Saddleback sows, which breed a nice batch of piglets each year.

"We sell a few pigs to the Young family, who run Overton Farm Shop, in Lanarkshire, as well as selling a whole and half cuts privately off the farm, with prices varying each year. The more we can sell individually, the higher the return in profit," Jane stated.

With a growing number of enterprises, you would wonder what comes next for the Harrowers, but they have no great plans.

"We are just striving for an easier way of life. Farming is an industry which is constantly changing and so farmers have to adapt to survive.

"I'm not interested in the pedigree or intensive world of livestock production. If we can continue to reduce our costs and loses and produce a good, high quality product then we'll be happy at the end of the day," concluded Craig.


  • The family farm 760 acres, rising to 650ft above sea level.
  • Cattle – business relies on 70 continental cross beef cows and Limousin and Charolais bulls. Herd is split in two for calving, with 35 spring and autumn calvers.
  • Sheep – running a flock of 350 breeding Swaledales, Texels and cross ewes, which are put to a Texel or Swaledale tup. Lambing occurs outdoors in April/May.
  • The farm is managed and ran by Craig and his wife, Jane, with the help of daughters; Kelly, Helen and Shona.
  • Diversification in poultry and pig rearing, as well as managing a holiday cottage next to the farm.
  • The family travel around agricultural shows with their poultry and pigs, as well as helping run the poultry tent at the Highland Show each year.


  • Biggest achievement – Shearing 536 ewes in one day across two farms.
  • Best advise – Dig in and always work hard to achieve what you want.
  • Best holiday – Our trip to Orlando, in Florida, was one to remember.
  • Favourite restaurant – It would have to be Fintry Sports Club, a favourite of many.