FARMS from the Borders and Perthshire have been named as the finalists for 2018's AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year award.

Bowhill Farming in Selkirk, managed by Sion Williams, and Incheoch in Alyth, run by Neil and Debbie McGowan, were selected from a 'very strong' line-up of nominations, said the award's organisers. Whilst the two businesses themselves are quite different, both are run by producers dedicated to producing first class, quality assured sheep and lambs, with a commitment to constantly looking for ways to improve productivity and efficiency.

The aim of the AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year award is to showcase excellence in sheep production in Scotland and to raise the profile of the dedication of the Scottish sheep farmers who produce Scotch Lamb PGI. The overall winner, to be revealed at the AgriScot farm business event on Wednesday, November 21, will receive a £500 cheque as well as a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a Scotch Beef Club restaurant.

The assessors for the award this year are AgriScot board member, Hamish Dykes; QMS knowledge transfer specialist, Dr Heather McCalman; and the 2017 AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year recipient, Charley Walker.

Mr Dykes commented that both businesses were 'incredibly impressive' and that the final assessment process this year will prove very challenging as a result: “We had a large number of nominations this year but the two finalists which have been selected – Bowhill and Incheoch – really shone among the nominees.”

Dr McCalman added that the assessors were looking forward to visiting both farms later this week, where they will look for evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, uptake of new ideas to improve efficiency and profitability, a high level of health and welfare and a keen eye on the market for the end product.

The assessors will also look to gauge the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer, and any family and staff who may also work on the farm, to efficiently produce high quality animals.

Partner in the Land and Rural Business team at Thorntons Solicitors, Kenneth Mackay, added: “We are proud to be sponsors of both the Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year and Scotch Beef Farm of the Year awards. AgriScot are keen to recognise all elements of the agricultural sector and we are delighted to be able to help them achieve that goal.”

All farms producing lambs destined to be used for meat sold under the Scotch Lamb label were eligible to apply for the award and accordingly they were also required to be members of QMS’s farm assurance scheme.