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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Farmers Weekly Awards 2020: Sheep Farmer of the Yr

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Neil and Debbie McGowan, Incheoch, Blairgowrie, Perthshire

A progressive mindset, glorious stockmanship and rigorous analysis of maternal traits has made Incheoch genetics worthwhile, practical and among the many most wanted in business lamb manufacturing.

Farm information

  • 1,300 breeding ewes
  • 800 Lleyn ewes and 100 Texels Signet recorded
  • 500ha (1,236 acres), of which 364ha (899 acres) is grass – 48ha (119 acres) is tough
  • 80-90 rams bought off farm by Working Genes sale
  • 125ha (309 acres) of arable let loose for malting barley, shelling peas and rising forage crops
  • 220 Luing and Simmental cattle recorded
  • Prime lambs bought deadweight to Woodheads, Turriff

Fashionable ram patrons are more and more seeing their buy as an funding in a breeder’s system and genetic bundle.

This is the reason Neil and Debbie McGowan’s exacting requirements and unwavering business focus with their Lleyn and Texel ewes at Incheoch are yielding success.

They perceive maternal means is a prime precedence for a lot of business farms and the “hard-to-measure maternal traits” want scrutiny in a system that challenges inventory to carry out.

Specializing in traits resembling lambing rating, lambing ease, maternal means and ewe effectivity is paying dividends by making certain repeat clients to their “Working Genes” on-farm sale.

Now in its 13th 12 months, the sale has nearly doubled ram numbers bought and the typical value, with a complete of 97 rams levelling at £1,295 in September 2020. 

Watch The Farmers Weekly 2020 Awards Exhibits

Working over 5 evenings from 6pm, starting 7 February, we carry you The Farmers Weekly Awards Present.

Hosted by Adam Henson, the week-long competition of British farming will rejoice farming’s successes and inform the story of how farmers saved the nation fed in a 12 months like no different.

Watch the reveals

Maternal scrutiny

he McGowans have a maternal scoring system, which was developed for the Lleyns with the assistance of sheep guide John Vipond.

That is displayed in ram catalogues for patrons to scrutinise alongside all Signet-recorded traits and again breeding

The scoring system runs from -2 to +2, with the typical being 0. Three traits are scored – lamb vigour, lambing ease and a rating for the ewe’s maternal means. These traits are as key to the McGowans as they’re to clients.

Sheep lamb outdoor from late April, with solely the Texels routinely housed at evening. Intervention is minimal all through lambing, permitting Neil and Debbie to evaluate which sheep are working and which aren’t suited to their system.

Retained Lleyn gimmers begin life in a B-flock and are drafted up into an elite A-flock or get a terminal sire within the C-flock, relying on efficiency. Rams solely come from the A-flock.

Common ewe effectivity is 0.7 (70%). Because of this, at 100 days, the ewes – that are both facet of 70kg – are, on common, weaning 70% of their tupping weight with out concentrates.

Texel ewes are rigorously assessed on lambing ease. Sons are bought with a four-point lambing ease rating and a birthweight estimated breeding worth.

Each breeds are in faecal egg rely (FEC) society breeding programmes to breed for worm tolerance.

Progress

They’ve optimised scanning efficiency, falling from 204% to 189%, and lifted the twinning charge from 60% to 75% prior to now 10 years.

The breeding programme has elevated the genetic potential of the Lleyns. Muscle depth and liveweight has elevated by 1.5mm and three.8kg at 21 weeks over the identical interval.

Revenue can also be being diversified by a wind turbine and two vacation cottages. Direct gross sales of meat and eggs have elevated tenfold this 12 months.

Grazing administration is consistently being evaluated to minimise prices and make sure the system and flock stays related for the business farmer.

Ewes are wintered on swedes and lambs are completed cost-effectively by rising crimson clover and forage crops in rotation on the arable land.

All forage is grazed in-situ, which retains complete feed and forage prices all the way down to £7.82 a lamb or £0.19/kg, which leaves the farm across the prime third of producers utilizing AHDB’s costing programme FarmBench.

Profitable methods

  • Industrial, forage-based system
  • Repositioned their breeding targets to fulfill market calls for
  • Rigorous maternal evaluation at lambing time
  • Ingenuity proven in advertising and marketing livestock and farm produce
  • Centered on the long run and adaptable mindset

A phrase from our unbiased choose

“It was nice to see Neil and Debbie’s dedication to genetics and supplying their purchasers with superior breeding animals. They’ve recognised the necessity to enhance ram gross sales to fulfill demand. They’re additionally concerned in advertising and marketing their very own meat and creating higher hyperlinks with customers.”

Liz Genever, unbiased beef, sheep and forage guide

Different finalists had been:

  • Matt Haydon
    JCB Farms, Wootton, Staffordshire
  • Neil Sandilands
    Higher Hundalee, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire

Learn concerning the finalists

The Farmers Weekly 2020 Sheep Farmer of the Yr is sponsored by Shearwell Knowledge

Shearwell Knowledge Ltd is dedicated to supplying UK livestock farmers with high quality animal identification merchandise and administration methods. Proud sponsor of the Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Yr award.

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