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Owen Gray – Saughland Farm, Midlothian

Owen Gray – Saughland Farm, Pathhead, Midlothian

Owen is the livestock manager for Saughland Farm a mixed upland livestock and arable unit in Midlothian, just outside Edinburgh, Scotland. Previously a monitor farm for Quality Meat Scotland they were keen to get involved with RamCompare at the start of phase III due to their interest in performance recording and productive sheep systems in the UK.

They have a maternal composite flock of 1,500 ewes using Romney and Aberfield genetics with everything recorded from birth.

They are developing a new pedigree Suffolk flock with purchases from high index flock dispersals. Their aim is to produce an easy lambing, vigorous flock without compromising carcase quality and growth using CT Scanning, EBV’S and intensive shepherding selection. They plan to retain ewe replacements and some stock sires, keeping new purchases to a minimum. They plan to sell rams and any surplus ewes for breeding.

  • 1,500 Aberfield x Romney ewes fully recorded for their maternal performance - around 600 of these ewes are demoted to their “B-flock” for their commercial lamb enterprise, now being used for RamCompare
  • Mated at the end of November, rams run for two cycles, achieving 170% conception rate with the majority holding to first cycle
  • Lambing around mid-April outdoors - ewes are set stocked at the end of march or once grass growth has increased to lamb in fields. Post-lambing gates are opened to allow fields to mix into groups of around 350 remaining set stocked. Large groups of cows with calves at foot are rotated around the set-stocked areas to reduce grass stem levels, keeping pasture quality high
  • Lambs are weighed from around 6 weeks, every two – three weeks (weekly during heavy growth periods) this is also used to monitor health and when there is a need to intervene
  • After or just before weaning ewe’s and lambs will start to rotational graze the farm to promote pasture growth, all lambs are managed in the same way and finished from grass and clover
  • Slaughter season is July – December with a target finished live-weight of 43kg

Owen explains, “We have a strong interest in progressive farming techniques and using data and science to improve our stocks performance and output. Almost all our decisions are made from facts and figures, not guess work.”

“It is for these reasons the Ram Compare project really appeals to us. We would love a chance to improve our knowledge and understanding of performance recording and estimated breeding values while exploring the merits of different breeds and how the different ram qualities thrive in their system.”

“We hope we are able to demonstrate the benefits of recording to wider agricultural communities, using data from Saughlands commercial ewe flock and feeding it into RamCompare.”

Other enterprises include:

  • 100 Suckler Black Baldie cows (Hereford X Aberdeen Angus)
  • Farm is owned by Richard Callander and jointly managed between Ben McClymont(Farm Manager) & Owen Gray (Livestock Manager)
  • Grass measured fortnightly through grazing season to impact grazing decisions and future land management plans

Farm diversification:

  • Vineyard business center (office space to let), Lothian Larder (Farm shop vending machine) & holiday cottage