The Scottish sheep industry needs to be able to react to market demands if it is to have a profitable future, the hosts of Scotland’s biggest event for sheep farmers have claimed.
The Campbell family of Glenrath will host the biennial Scotsheep event at Blythbank farm, Penicuik, near Edinburgh tomorrow. The family farm around 10,000 ewes on 15,000 acres – as well as being one of the UK’s largest producers of eggs.
Stating that the sheep side had to stand on its own feet, managing director Ian Campbell said that the business had drawn considerably from its experience in the poultry sector in the way they managed their livestock.
Meeting the specifications being demanded by the market was one example, as was meeting customer demands in areas such as animal welfare.
“There is still a great future for farmers in the UK but we’ve got to react to what the market wants,” Campbell said.
“One example is the quality assurance schemes which have a very important role in giving our customers, the major retailers, the assurance we are producing livestock to the highest standards and to the highest welfare standards.
“As an industry, we have to keep on improving because the only way we will get a premium for our product is if we can prove what we are producing is better than what is being produced elsewhere in the world.”
Recently appointed cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, Fergus Ewing, will be making his first appearance at a major agricultural event.
Scotsheep will run from 9am to 5pm and will be officially opened by Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan, who has a background in sheep farming, and organisers expect in the order of 8,000 visitors.
Among those attending will be 442 school children from the local area, looked after by a team from the Royal Highland Education Trust.
The event has attracted 150 trade stands and 32 breed exhibits and visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the farm.
The day’s programme includes three seminars focusing on sheep industry, the Scottish Young Shepherd of the Year final, sheep shearing competitions, sheepdog trials and butchery demonstration. Other activities will include a farmers market and craft stands, stockjudging, lamb/carcase grading, crook making, sheep dressing, wool spinning and fencing.