For the second year running Easy Care sheep farmers have lifted the top accolade in Scotland.
Husband and wife team Charley and Andrea Walker, from Barnside farm in Abbey Saint Bathans, near Duns, are the winners of this year’s AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year award.
The 250 hectares Borders farm utilises the many attributes of the Easy Care Sheep breed within their low input, grass fed, outdoor lambing, organic farming system. The Walkers flock contains over 1000 Easy Care ewes and hogs, with the majority of the Easy Care ewes mated to Easy Care rams. The hogs are mated to a New Zealand Texel ram. All stock on the farm are managed in a rotational paddock grazing system.
So why the Easy Care Breed?
Put simply the Easy Care breed is produced by commercial farmers for commercial farmers. This means it is a very resilient breed which can milk and grow from grass, able to cope with must things that comes its way.
In addition it has the massive advantage of naturally shedding its light coat of wool and hair in the spring. This greatly reduces the workload of the farmer and at the same time reduces ewe losses as few ewes get lodged on their back, there are no dirty backsides and there is little fly strike.
In addition it is easier to assess ewe condition and milk production and it is easier for the lambs to find the teats in those vital first minutes of life.
Flocks have the potential to scan carrying 190 lambs per 100 ewes to the ram and can rear over 175 lambs per 100 ewes on the farm, without ever needing to be in a house. Lamb losses at birth are kept to a minimum as the ewes have been selected for ease of lambing and the lambs selected for their get up and go. New born lambs want to live and are up and suckling within a few minutes of birth.
With good grassland management lambs will grow at 250g/day and more until weaning and have the ability to finish straight out of the field again without the need for expensive concentrates. Carcase weights of 20kg are easily achievable at acceptable fat covers and conformation grades.
More information about the breed visit www.easycaresheep.com