Farming family recognised with award
An Aberdeenshire family farm has been named as the 2015 Scotch Beef Farm of the Year.
Darnford farm, near Banchory, run by the Watson family, was announced as the overall winner by Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, during a presentation at AgriScot.
The Watsons run 426 Saler cross suckler cows, with all progeny finished on the farm, other than 50 cattle sold as stores. Cattle is the main enterprise on the farm and as a bolt-on to the main beef enterprise, David Watson and his wife Lynne have also established a 25 cow pedigree Saler herd.
The aim of the annual Award, run by AgriScot and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), is to showcase excellence in the production of cattle in Scotland and raise the profile of the dedication and stock management skills behind the production of Scotch Beef.
The other two finalists were:.Wester Coilechat, Callander, Perthshire, run by the Malcolm family, and Prettycur Farm, Montrose, Angus, run by the Sanger family.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead extended his congratulations to the Watson family. “Family farms like Darnford are the backbone of our livestock industry. This year’s winner and the other finalists should be commended for their commitment to building sustainable and viable farming businesses which auger well for the future of the beef industry in Scotland.”
The representatives from AgriScot and QMS, Robert Neill and Douglas Bell, who visited the finalist farms were particularly impressed with the Watson family’s commitment to continually improving the efficiency of their farm. “It was a pleasure to visit three farming families who all rightly share a real pride in the way they run their businesses. All three share a dedication to their and a focus on the market place for the stock produced on the farm, whether that be suckled calves, store animals, finished cattle or high quality breeding stock,” said Douglas Bell, Head of Industry Development with QMS.
During the farm visits the award assessors looked for: evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, uptake of new ideas to improve efficiency/profitability, a high level of health and welfare and a keen eye on the market for the end product. The assessors also looked to gauge the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer, and family and staff where relevant, to efficiently produce high quality animals.
All farms producing cattle destined to be used for meat sold under the Scotch Beef PGI label – from breeders through to finishers – were eligible to apply for the award and accordingly they were also required to be members of QMS’s quality assurance scheme.