Sheep farmers from across Scotland will descend on a top Borders livestock farm for NSA Scotsheep 2014 today.
The bi-annual event, organised by the Scottish region of the National Sheep Association, is taking place at Quixwood farm, Grantshouse, Berwickshire.
Visitors will get the chance to tour around the Macfarlane family’s extensive enterprise, which comprises 700 suckler cows, 1,500 ewes and 600 acres of cereals.
John Macfarlane and son Iain farm a total of 2,500 acres across Quixwood and the adjoining farms of Ferneylea and Drakemyre.
The business is focused on making the most of home-grown forage, to reduce reliance on bought-in concentrates.
The family operates a closed herd and flock policy with all replacements bred on the farm and all lambs and calves, except female replacements, finished through to slaughter and sold deadweight to Scotbeef.
The sheep flock comprises 300 Blackface ewes crossed with the Bluefaced Leicester to produce replacement females for the 500-head Mule ewe flock.
The Mule ewes are crossed with Texel tups and the resulting Texel cross Mule ewes are put to the Suffolk to produce the slaughter generation.
Iain says the family plans to extend its closed flock policy in future by breeding its own replacement Blackface ewes.
Ewes are lambed from the New Year onwards, with everything done indoors apart from the Blackface ewes which are lambed outside from April 1.
All are fed a total mixed ration of silage, beet pulp, wheat dark grains, turnip mix and minerals.
Ewes are moved into groups of 10 after lambing for 24 to 48 hours before being turned out, with lambs creep fed to catch the early lamb market.
John said: “We push them hard to grow as quickly as possible, and we start selling lambs at the end of May and draw for marketing every 10 days or so through the summer.”
As well as tours around the farm, visitors to ScotSheep will get the chance to attend a series of seminars on issues such as Cap reform, animal health and nutrition and plans to increase the consumption of Scotch lamb.
There will also be more than 200 trade stands, including breed societies, at the show, a sheep drop trial competition, the inter region sheep shearing competition, young shepherd of the year competition, and the show and sale of pairs of ewe hoggs.
Event chairman David Leggat from United Auctions said: “Reform of the Cap is causing considerable uncertainty in the industry and NSA Scotsheep will provide the ideal opportunity for sheep farmers to catch up with the latest developments and technology to help them plan ahead for a profitable future.”
The event takes place between 9am and 5pm. Tickets for adults cost £12, although NSA members and agricultural students only pay £6 and children under 16 can attend for free.