6 September 2000

SCOTTISH crofters are joining forces to improve the prospects for lightweight lambs from the Western Isles after a dismal sales season last year with some stock being rendered worthless.

Officials from the Highland & Island Livestock company will transfer selected lambs from Western Isles crofts where grazing is limited to farms on Easter Ross and the Black Isle. Once there, stock will be fed on for three months until fit, hopefully, in time for the buoyant pre-Christmas market on the mainland.

According to H & Is manager Bill Souter the lambs will remain the property of the Western Isle crofters who will be paid a pool price based on the finished value and after deductions for feed, haulage and marketing.

“There is a risk involved and the financial outcome will be very depend on the market price in December. But we believe the risk is worth taking, given that these smaller lambs are virtually unmarketable as stores at present,” said Mr Souter.

The first batch of lambs to be taken for further feeding will weigh between 20-25kg liveweight and should be relatively lean. Over 2000 lambs are expected to be shipped between the islands this season as part of a pilot project by H & I.

“This marketing exercise presents crofters with an opportunity to maximise returns for lightweight lambs. If successful we hope to extend the venture in future years,” added Mr Souter.