26 June 1998
£1.2m quality plan for Scots sheep

By Johann Tasker at the Royal Highland Show

SCOTTISH sheep farmers are to benefit from a Government-backed scheme to improve the carcass quality of their sheep.

The £1.2 million project was launched today (Friday) by Scottish agriculture minister Lord Sewel at the Royal Highland Show. It aims to develop local breeding schemes to allow increased rates of genetic improvement.

“This initiative will take the quality message right down the production chain to ensure that the lambs coming off our hills produce the finest-quality meat for todays demanding markets,” Lord Sewel said.

The scheme will also promote the use of artificial insemination, and a programme of research and education. Support also comes from various sheep associations and the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Willie Morrison of the North Country Cheviot Sheep Society said, “Our carcasses have always been noted for their quality, but we cannot stand still in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Aileen MacFadzean, of the Blackface Sheep Breeders Association, said the scheme would give sheep-farmers a major opportunity to increase profitability.

The project is aimed at farmers in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, where there are almost 1.5 million ewes, 32% of the Scottish flock.