THREE 'exceptional' sheep businesses have been unveiled as the finalists of the AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year award.

Whilst the businesses themselves are quite different, all are run by producers dedicated to producing first class, quality assured Scotch Lamb PGI.

The finalists are Sharpitlaw in Kelso, run by Kevin Stewart; Orchardton Farm in Ayrshire, run by James Nisbet; and Swinside Townfoot farm run by Peter and Vicki Hedley.

The assessors for the award this year are AgriScot board member Hamish Dykes; Quality Meat Scotland chair Kate Rowell; and last year's award winner Neil McGowan.

Mr Dykes, said: “It was fantastic to see so many applications from a wide range of sheep enterprises across Scotland. The AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year is a fantastic platform for help raise the profile of the dedication and passion of sheep farmers in Scotland who work hard to produce top-quality Scotch Lamb PGI the industry is renowned for.”

Ms Rowell added: “It was great to visit the three finalists where we examined all aspects of their business, from a high standard of technical and financial performance to the implementation of new ideas to improve efficiency and profitability.”

The assessors also looked 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 livestock.

The overall winner will receive a £500 cheque as well as a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a Scotch Beef Club restaurant. The club, run by QMS, has around 150 members committed to serving top quality Scotch Beef PGI. The recipient will be revealed at AgriScot on Wednesday November 20, at noon in the main ring.

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