New strategy to drive efficiency in Scottish sheep industry launched

The improved profitability and efficiency of the Scottish sheep industry will be driven by a new three-year strategy from the red meat sector's economic development body, Quality Meat Scotland.

QMS chairman Donald Biggar launched the Scottish Sheep Strategy last week at the Scotsheep event at Wellheads Farm, Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

The Scottish Sheep Strategy, which follows on from the successful Highlands and Islands Sheep Strategy, targets commercial sheep production throughout Scotland with a focus on increasing the use of breeding technologies to improve the quality of the end product and cut costs. It represents a £300,000 investment in a package of on-farm training, demonstration projects and research.

Biggar said: "Encouraging more sheep enterprises to make use of breeding technologies such as Performance Recording and Estimated Breeding Values will help accelerate the genetic improvement of the Scottish sheep flock. This in turn will lead to an even better quality end product, that's good news for both farmers and consumers.

"These practical, on-farm activities will be rolled out across Scotland to ensure as many sheep farmers as possible have a chance of taking part, and this new strategy is a welcome complement to our successful Scotch Lamb marketing campaign and the policy development workshops currently being planned with NFUS and FWAG."

The strategy will be overseen by a steering group who bring knowledge and expertise of a broad range of sheep production systems from across Scotland.

Steering group chair, Mamie Paterson, who farms 600 ewes in Perthshire and is treasurer of the Scottish Region of the National Sheep Association (NSA), added: "The Scottish sheep industry has been operating well below its true potential for far too long and the creation of sheep strategy aimed at helping sheep farmers throughout Scotland face up to industry challenges is long overdue. I am confident that as a result of the practical activities that are planned we will see a difference by the end of the project."

To mark the launch of the Strategy, QMS developed a unique farm workshop for Scotsheep visitors featuring hands-on sessions on EBVs, Lamb Grading and Lamb Carcase Butchery covering the key areas for action within the plan.

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