Speakers are Ulster Scots sheep successes

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TWO young farmers from west Ulster and Perthshire, who have built up successful sheep farming enterprises are key note speakers at a Greenmount College Centenary Conference next Wednesday, December 5.

Both will describe their road to success and lead a discussion on the way forward for UK lamb producers at an event promoted by AgriSearch in association with Greenmount College, the NSA, AFBI and the LMC.

From a non farming family in Perthshire Michael Blanche has built up a successful sheep enterprise having started with neither farm nor farm tenancy to inherit. Whilst working as a Scottish Agricultural Colleges advisor he rented some land and bought 50 ewes in 2003. Within two years he had resigned from the SAC to grow sheep numbers and become a self employed farm consultant. By 2010 Michael had 650 ewes still on rented land taken as seasonal lets some 30 miles away from his home.

Awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship he used it to study ‘The Farming Ladder’ that would lead to building a farm business of real value based on sheep production.

The following year the now even more determined Scot finally acquired a 500 acre, 200ha, tenancy where he is building a business based on sheep and contract grazing cattle.

His flock of mainly Texel X Wiltshire Horn X Lleyn crossbreds scans at 1.74 and 1.85 lambs per ewe. With limited housing Michael runs 65kg easily maintained ewes with replacements from trouble free ewes rearing twins. Ewes are foot scored for lameness from 0 to 5 and persistent offenders, the 5s, culled.

This past year Michael set up two hectare paddocks, five acres, with front and back fencing as a means of utilising 80-85% of grass grown. Double the figure found on most set stocked sheep farms!

The other young farmer addressing the sheep event next Wednesday, December 5 is former Greenmount student Russell Scott, who farms 200 acres near Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone on land running from 495 to 1089 feet above sea level including 85 acres of heather moorland, 45 acres rough grazing, 15 acres permanent grassland and 55 acres of ploughable grassland.

The farm carries a flock of 330 ewes and 18 Aberdeen Angus, British Blue and Limousin x Friesian suckler cows.

Through diligent recording and exceptional stockmanship Russell has lifted lambs sold from 1.6/ewe to 2/ewe for his main Texel X Blackface and Suffolk cross ewes.

Starting at 11am with a tour of the college sheep unit on the Abbey Farm the Greenmount Centenary event continues with lunch on the campus followed by the two farmer speakers and an update on the latest R & D supported by AgriSearch.

To book your place for £10, including lunch, please contact CAFRE on 02894426770 or e-mail rebecca.coalter@dardni.gov.uk