BANKHOUSE FARM, near the village of Stow in the Scottish Borders, has been announced as the AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year 2016.

The award, which is sponsored by Thorntons Solicitors, was first awarded at AgriScot 2015 and is now a firm fixture for the farm business event.

Hamish Dykes, a director of AgriScot, who along with Rhidian Jones and Richard Blake, visited Bankhouse as part of the award assessment process, commented: “Following the success of the inaugural year of SSFOTY in 2015, we were delighted to receive over 20 nominations for this year’s award.

“From those nominated farms, there can, as ever, be only one recipient of the Sheep Farm of the Year title. Bankhouse scored exceptionally highly on our assessment score sheets and well deserves the tittle of Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year.

“Bankhouse is relatively small in comparison to other livestock farms in the area, but Graham Lofthouse, his parents Wilma and Bert and wife Kathleen certainly know how to get the most out of their business, running 439 ewes plus ewe lambs, and 72 Suckler Cows on less than 300 upland acres.”

The sheep at Bankhouse are a home-bred easy care flock, with the objective for the ewes being to produce lambs equivalent to their own body weight at weaning.

The assessors were very impressed by Graham’s knowledge and control over his costs of production his attention to detail and his ability to generate profit without subsidy.

The assessors also noted that Bankhouse had been subject to challenges in the recent past, with loss of land and restricted access to land because of the new Borders Railway. Graham and his family had worked hard to minimise the impact of these challenges on their rotational grazing regime and on their livestock.

Hamish Dykes summarised: “In an era where we are always told that big is best and expansion is key, Bankhouse turns this on its head and proves that a profitable sheep enterprise, and a viable income, can be generated from a smaller farm. The Lofthouse family well deserve this award."