A GOLDEN triangle of beef producing excellence has been mapped out by the three finalists of the AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year Award, who hail from its far eats, far west and far north – Shetland, Melrose and Dumfries.

The finalists are Scholland Farm on Shetland, run by Jamie Leslie; Firth Farm in Melrose, run by Rob, Kath and Iain Livesey; and Kingan Farms in New Abbey, run by the Kingan family.

The Livesey's Firth Farm is approximately 300-hectare mixed enterprise near Lilliesleaf, where they run 100 pedigree Salers suckler cows, 60 additional crossbred store calves purchased annually from the Isle of Mull, all sired by Firth Farm bulls, as well as 1000 mule ewes. They have utilised social media as an effective marketing tool and regularly post photos and updates to boost their profile which has resulted in cattle sold through the platform.

Kingan Farms is a family partnership, a 475-hectare-owned and tenanted enterprise across four locations in Dumfries. The family run a beef finishing system with a turnover of approximately 1400 cattle per year – a mixture of continental and native breeds. The farms are self-sufficient with grazing, grass silage and whole crop with straw and additional locally grown barley the only regular external purchase. They been using EID management tags now for over 10 years and have adopted new software on a Bluetooth system which has improved cattle handling and monitoring and has also allowed a paperless system at the crush.

Scholland is 350-hectare farm on Shetland where Mr Leslie farms in partnership with his father John and runs 80 Aberdeen Angus suckler cows with progeny predominately finished and sold through local butcher shop. Scholland is also home to 900 breeding ewes which are a mixture of Shetland, Cheviot and Texel with Suffolk used as terminal sire. Mr Leslie runs a spring calving herd with calving to start in early March. Cows get nine weeks with an Angus bull and heifers six weeks. Stock are turned out in early April, where they go into a paddock grazing system to allow Mr Leslie to allocate grass, but to also help ground conditions during the early grazing season.

As well as demonstrating a strong commitment to improving the health and welfare of their cattle, all three finalist farms impressed the award assessors with their efforts to strengthen the success of their businesses by adopting new ideas and initiatives.

The assessors for the award this year are AgriScot chairman Robert Neill, QMS director of strategic engagement Douglas Bell, and last year's award winner Niall Jeffrey, who all visited the finalist farms this week.

Mr Bell said: “The quality of applicants for this year’s award are indicative of the world class farming operations we have here in Scotland, fuelled by individuals with passion for what they do. It was great to get out on farm with fellow assessors and see first-hand their dedication to producing high-quality, Scotch Beef PGI.”

Mr Neill added: “AgriScot is an important platform to showcase the best of beef production in Scotland and I’m delighted that we are able to recognise high-calibre farms, like these.”