THE McGowan family of Incheoch, near Alyth, Perthshire, have been announced as this year’s AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year winner.
Husband and wife team Neil and Debbie McGowan, in partnership with Neil Judy’s mother, father Finlay and sister Clare manage the 485 hectare farm at the foot of Glenisla, operating 1,100 Lleyn ewes on a low sheep system. cost in terms of capital and labor, with a suckler herd. The farm uses EID technology and EBVs to help produce “functional, efficient and robust breeders”.
The McGowans are dedicated to improving the genetics of their herd and improving commercially relevant traits, especially maternal characteristics. The basis of the sheep business is the production of premium lambs, but they sell grass-fed Lleyn and Texel rams that have performed well in a farm sale for 11 years.
Top quality lambs are sold at Woodheads, but the McGowans also work with a local slaughterhouse and butcher and sell 30-40 of their lambs direct to the public each year in bespoke retail packaging.
The aim of this award is to showcase the excellence of sheep production in Scotland and to raise the profile of the dedication of the Scottish sheep farmers who produce the IGP Scottish Lamb.
Neil McGowan was delighted with the news. He said: “To be announced as Agriscot Scottish Sheep Farmer of the Year is a great recognition of the effort that everyone involved in Incheoch is putting into what all Scottish sheep farmers are trying to do – producing a great, responsive product. to well-being and the environment, in a company that offers an attractive lifestyle for the next generation.
Rural Economy Minister’s Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing congratulated the McGowans.
He said: ‘I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the McGowans on Incheoch being named Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year 2018. They are great ambassadors for our Scottish sheep sector and have shown how technology can help. to produce an efficient and robust breeding stock, while improving it commercially. I wish them every success in moving forward.
He also congratulated the finalist Bowhill Farming Ltd, in Selkirk, run by Sion Williams and his team for their commitment to producing Scottish lamb.
Charley Walker of Barnside Farm, one of this year’s reviewers and recipient of the 2017 award, admitted that it was incredibly difficult to decide who should receive the award this year, as both companies excel at what they do.
He said: “Incheoch and Bowhill are very different farms, but both share exceptional technical performance and a great passion and understanding of the sheep industry. Both have made and continue to make great strides in breeding and have an excellent understanding of their market.
Hamish Dykes, fellow assessor and AgriScot board member, said: “While Sion and his team should be rightly proud of what they have achieved, we have been incredibly impressed with the foresight and McGowan’s courage to take the path they chose at such an early stage. Long before any of us knew what a Lleyn really was, Neil and Debbie already had a herd of them and were getting ready to start their farm ram sale.
Heather McCalman, Knowledge Transfer Specialist at QMS and Evaluator, said: “It was a pleasure to visit the finalist farms, both of which demonstrated incredibly high quality sheep production systems managed with pride and dedication. real. ”