Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year 2014: John Scott

John Scott
Fearn Farm, Ross-shire

Scottish sheep farmer John Scott’s forward-thinking attitude sets him apart from his contemporaries.

Not satisfied with standing still, John has transformed the family business in the past two years, doubling acreage and expanding the sheep flock threefold.

His goal is to develop a profitable business for future generations to inherit.

“I believe I’m a custodian for the next generation. It is my turn at the moment to lead the family farm just like my dad and his before.”

A previous Nuffield scholar, John is not afraid to embrace change or adopt new practices.

“The best thing about completing a scholarship is that it opens your mind and makes you receptive to change,” he admits.

“With the knowledge that good financial performance is underpinned by good technical performance, John’s focus on maximising grass use and improving genetics in tandem demonstrates an understanding of the drivers of profitability for his business”
Catherine Nakielny, 
Consultant, KN Consulting, and independent judge

Alongside his main flock of Cheviot and cross-bred ewes, more recently John became a breeding partner for Innovis, breeding Aberfield sheep.

He also he runs two pedigree flocks of Texels and New Zealand Suffolks. Performance recording plays a vital role within the stud flocks and combined with a ruthless culling policy they are already breeding shearling rams from the Texel flock within the top 5% of the breed.

Farm Facts

  • Farming 3,700 Cheviot and cross-bred ewes alongside 40 Luing cattle across 1,581ha
  • Running two pedigree flocks of Texels and New Zealand Suffolks
  • Fat lambs sold through Woodhead Brothers at 20kg deadweight
  • Winning Ways

    • Strong engagement with the wider industry
    • Highly profitable
    • Traditional yet forward-thinking and embracing new practices
    • Using EBVs to select the best genetics to improve pedigree flocks

His biggest strength is his foresight. With uncertainty over farm subsidies, he recognises the importance of being profitable without them. “The biggest challenge is our own mindset. Our thought process has become maximising our subsidy instead of maximising profit from farming.”

As a result, John’s focus has switched to breeding low-cost rams that thrive from forage. On the back of this he has been instrumental in setting up an on-farm ram sale.

His passion is infectious and he is putting his enthusiasm for the industry to good use by spreading the word through social media and through his involvement within the wider industry.

As a board member of Quality Meat Scotland and chairman of the Scottish Sheep Industry Group, John is striving to encourage a sustainable sheep sector.

He also believes it is paramount to promote farming to the wider public, and this year the family featured on the hit BBC programme Lambing Live.

“I firmly believe that as farmers we have to be proactive at marketing both our produce and using all the tools at our disposal is vital to our success.

“They [the general public] are our customers. We have to engage them and help them understand what we are doing, and hopefully, as a result, they will buy our produce.”

John believes there is no limit on success. Despite having built a highly profitable business, he has a huge appetite to progress even further and his next goal is to improve his grassland management, thus lowering input costs further.


greenfieldMartin Greenfield
Norton Barn Farm, Atherstone, Warwickshire

Martin has added value to his flock of 1,000 Texel-cross Mules by selling direct to customers. The aim is to finish all lambs off forage and, as a result, good grassland management has become the bedrock of the enterprise.

harrisonJohn Harrison
Lowther Park Farms, Penrith, Cumbria

John has transformed the sheep enterprise by switching to a traditional flock of 5,200 Mule ewes, increasing turnover by 20%. His excellent leadership skills and engagement with staff have been key to his success.

John is a worthy winner. Never afraid to embrace challenges and explore new ideas to develop a sustainable legacy, his inclusive leadership style motivates everyone to deliver continual improvement”

Sponsor’s message

MSD-logo“John is a worthy winner. Never afraid to embrace challenges and explore new ideas to develop a sustainable legacy, his inclusive leadership style motivates everyone to deliver continual improvement”
Marcus Sanders, Trade marketing manager

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