Bull stud is key to successful crofting future

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A £3 million investment in new accommodation at the Scottish government’s bull stud at Knocknagael, Inverness, was officially opened yesterday with politicians and farming and crofting leaders emphasising its potential contribution to Scotland’s beef industry.

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller described the bull hire scheme, which uses Knocknagael as its base, as instrumental in building the area’s reputation for high-quality beef stock.

Only three years ago, doubts were cast on the long-term viability of the bull hire scheme but Miller claimed the investment in the new stud sent out a clear signal that the scheme’s future was secure.

Crofting Commission convener Susan Walker called the opening of the refurbished facility “a vital investment” for the future.

“The new facilities at Knocknagael will give crofters access to pedigree bulls, helping to maintain and grow the quality of crofters’ herds and production of store and breeding animals,” she said.

For the Scottish Government who put up the cash for the new facility, environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said that there was also increased emphasis on health and safety and the welfare needs of the bulls.

Speaking at the opening of the new facility, which will accommodate up to 150 bulls, he said: “The stud also showcases the latest biosecurity and environmental measures, many of which could be adopted by farmers throughout Scotland as they carry out work on their own farms.”

The biosecurity measures include double fencing complete with electric top wire and hedge planting around the bull fields. The new buildings also have a range of renewable energy features including solar thermal and solar photo voltaic panels, a rainwater attenuation pond and airsource heating.

ANDREW ARBUCKLE