Debut showing for Lomond
A NEW breed of sheep made its commercial debut at the show. The Lomond is the result of the six-year Scottish Fine Wool Project, funded partly by Scottish Enterprise.
The project aimed to create a new breed of sheep suitable for the Scottish climate, which would provide high quality wool without compromising lamb production or meat quality. The Lomond evolved by crossing hybrid Merinos with Shetland sheep, the finest wool breed sheep in Britain.
Perthshire farmer Fergus Wood who led the project said: "The Lomond combines the best qualities from its forebears to produce high quality, fine wool which is not available anywhere else in the world." The driving ambition has been to develop a quality product, produced entirely in Scotland, he said. That would reduce the need to import most of the UKs fine wool from Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Wood said 25 farmers in Scotland were now breeding Lomonds. The breed averages a wool clip of 2.5kg, compared with the usual yield of about 1kg from the Shetland breed. Farmers will be guaranteed £2.50/kg for the wool. Mr Wood hoped to secure additional bonuses on top of the flat price.
Although the Lomond was predominantly a lowland sheep, the Shetland breeding instilled hardiness, said Mr Wood. The breed offered farmers an excellent opportunity to diversify, he added. That would become increasingly important because subsidies would eventually disappear from the industry.
Two Scottish wool textile firms have signed a five-year agreement to buy the wool. A range of Lomond knitwear will be sold through branches of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill from next March. *