Improving efficiencies and technologies on upland and lowland grazing systems on Scottish sheep farms

Date published: 23 November 2022

Applications are invited for this study tour to the Loch Lomond region, Scotland.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering sheep farmers the opportunity to travel to the Loch Lomond region of Scotland to learn about the latest technologies, management techniques and efficiencies being utilised on Scottish sheep farms.  

As part of the visit the group will be able to see from the latest Scottish Rural College (SRUC) research and demonstration activities on how precision livestock farming approaches can be used to address agricultural and environmental challenges on a larger more detailed scale than in NI.

The visit will also strive to demonstrate how the effective use and uptake of Electronic Identification (EID) recording of sheep on NI farms can help to improve their resilience in the future.

In addition, the trip will demonstrate how, by using modern genetic selection approaches – such as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) – the productivity, profitability and environmental footprint of sheep flocks on mountain farms can be enhanced. This can also be used across lowland units equally.

The tour will include visits to four sheep farms over three days. It is proposed to fly to Glasgow from Belfast International Airport.

The first day will be spent with the Scottish Rural College at the Hill and Mountain Research Centre looking at their research work into EID and recording as well as upland grassland improvement and biodiversity.

The second day will be spent with a large-scale sheep flock where numerous technologies have been adopted, such as grass measuring, farm management software, Te-pari dosing system and multi-species sward incorporation.

The final day will involve a visit to the hill farm of Bobby Lennox who has been flock recording for over 40 years and who has also diversified into agri-tourism.

In addition, the final day will include a visit to the Glasgow Veterinary School farm to view their latest research findings on aspects such as ewe fertility and mineral supplementation.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The group will leave from Belfast International Airport on the morning of Wednesday 15 February and return on the evening of Friday 17 February 2023. The tour will be led by CAFRE Beef & Sheep Advisers.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of a farm business that has 150 breeding ewes or more, or finishing 200 lambs or more per year, is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. 15 places are available on this trip. Should there be sufficient interest it is proposed that subsequent trips may take place in 2023.

To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return.

The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland and meals when in Great Britain. Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance.

Sheep farmers who are interested in participating in this study tour can find out more details and complete an online application on the CAFRE website.

Applications can be completed online from Monday 28 November until Monday 12 December at 4:00pm.

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