More than 70 Suffolk sheep from Irene Fowlie’s Essie flock at Strichen in Aberdeenshire have been exported by air to an agricultural company in Georgia.
Mrs Fowlie, who farms at Adziel, established her performance recorded flock in 1981 and regularly sells progeny both privately and at sales across the country.
Last week, 70 females and three rams from the flock boarded a flight from Georgia after being purchased by a returned customer overseas.
Mrs Fowlie said: “I sent 36 sheep by air to Georgia in 2021 and the same buyers wanted to buy twice as many the next year.
“They wanted to transport them by road last year so we got a Polish road transporter organised. However, at the last minute DEFRA refused permission on welfare grounds.
“Never daunted, I went ahead this year, and persuaded the buyers to go by air again, with twice as many sheep as two years ago.”
The buyer of the sheep is Adjara Group, which manages one of the biggest agricultural developments in Georgia’s Eastern region.
“The company first contacted me in February 2021 and said they were looking to source high-health sheep at the top of the performance recorded index,” said Mrs Fowlie.
After months of negotiations due to there being no Export Health Certificate from the UK to Georgia at the time of the first discussions, the first exportation of 36 sheep took place in July 2021.
“Once the contract was signed, we had to quarantine the sheep and take five blood tests and a TB rest on each sheep with each sample recorded a month before the departure date,” said Mrs Fowlie.
“We also had to weigh every sheep and they were then assigned a specific place in each crate to ensure that their weight was evenly distributed. The ewe lambs and gimmers ranged from 55kg to 100kg,” she added.
Each sheep was then sprayed a specific colour accordingly.
Special wooden crates were built in Holland and shipped to Standsted Airport in time for the flight.
The lorry to the airport had to have a Type 2 Licence, with satellite tracking.