Dumfries House to host Scotsheep 2012

The Morrisons Farm at Dumfries House at Cumnock in East Ayrshire is the superb venue for Scotland’s national sheep event, NSA Scotsheep 2012, to be held on Wednesday, June 6.

NSA Scotsheep 2012 is organised by NSA Scotland with Bank of Scotland as main sponsor.

Historic Dumfries House - one of the most architecturally significant houses in the UK with a unique collection of priceless Chippendale furniture dating back to the 18th century – was saved for the nation in 2007 by HRH The Prince of Wales under his title as the Great Steward of Scotland. The adjoining 960-acre home farm is run as a joint venture by Dumfries House Trust and the UK’s fourth largest supermarket, Morrisons.

The farm is very much run as a commercial venture but aims to become a leading centre of excellence in applied farming research, focused on driving profitability and environmental sustainability and funded by the Morrisons Farming Programme.

It is, for example, one of three farms taking part in the Quality Meat Scotland Sheep Strategy Group’s Focus Farm project to gauge the effectiveness of using high index rams to improve the performance of commercial flocks.

Phase one of the project has already demonstrated that the value of using high index Suffolk rams could be worth as much as £11 more per ewe compared with low index rams and £5 more per ewe compared with rams selected solely by eye. The results of the first year of the phase two trials at Dumfries and the other two farms will be announced by QMS at NSA Scotsheep.

An investment of £2.1 million has been committed to developing the farming enterprise which comprises 730 Scotch Mule ewes, a flock of 20 pedigree Suffolk ewes and 250 beef suckler cows, including pedigree herds of Beef Shorthorn and Aberdeen-Angus.

“The venue has all the ingredients to provide an outstanding showcase for the Scottish sheep industry,” said NSA Scotland executive committee member, Neale McQuistin, who chairs the organising committee.

“The farm tour, which will pass close by Dumfries House itself, will be a major attraction for the thousands of sheep farmers expected to attend the event but there will also be a huge array of other activities to whet the appetite of visitors. It is a “must attend” event for all sheep farmers and others in the livestock industry.”

Morrisons, who sell only 100% British fresh beef, lamb, pork and poultry in their 476 stores, are delighted to have been given the opportunity of hosting NSA Scotsheep at Dumfries House.

“We look forward to opening the farm to the British sheep industry for what will be an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and develop best practice,” said Group Corporate Services director, Martyn Jones.

The increased returns sheep producers have been enjoying over the past year will give NSA Scotsheep a welcome boost but Sandy Hay, head of agriculture at Bank of Scotland, the main sponsors of the event, warns that increasing costs inevitably mean that margins are tight and producers need to be at the “top of their game” to maintain viable businesses.

“This is where NSA Scotsheep comes in and provides producers with the opportunity of sourcing all the latest technical and marketing expertise to help them run a sustainable and profitable business,” said Mr Hay. In addition to Bank of Scotland as main sponsor, mainline sponsors are the British Wool Marketing Board, Caledonian Marts (Stirling), Caltech/Scotmin, Campaign for Wool, Quality Meat Scotland, Morrisons Supermarkets, MSD Animal Health, Scotpen and Shearwell Data.

National sponsors include BOCM Pauls, Carrs Billington, Davidson Animal Feeds, Harrison and Hetherington, New Holland, Norvartis Animal Health and Scotbeef.

Visitors should note that the venue of Dumfries House is nowhere near the town of Dumfries. It lies on the A70 between Ayr and Cumnock and will be well signposted by the AA. Entry to NSA Scotsheep costs £12 for adults, NSA members £6 on production of a 2012 membership (one card, one reduced entry), agricultural students and under 16 free of charge, overseas visitors f