Between October 27 and 30, the Wales YFC Rural Affairs and International sub committee held its first study tour, which saw 50 members from eight federations visit Scotland.
The study tour’s initiative was to inspire members and encourage them to strengthen their own farming enterprises.
The first visit of the study tour was to John Scott at Fearn Farm. The Scott family have been at Fearn Farm, a low lying farm situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, for four generations. On arrival members received some of the farm’s fine produce followed by a farm tour. Members received a very detailed insight into his enterprise that consisted of 4,200 pedigree and commercial ewes, a 50-cow Beef Shorthorn herd, 60 commercial crossbred cows along with some arable systems, all on just under 4,000 acres. Members were very enthralled of his success and the farm’s development over the years, and will took on John’s advice to apply to their own enterprises.
The following day consisted of a tour of the Blair Athol Distillery, Pitlockery. Members got to see the step by step, lengthy procedure taken in order to create their signature Blair Athol Single Malt Whisky. Later that afternoon members got the chance to visit one of Scotland’s leading United Actions markets, Stirling Livestock Market. Members had the chance to see some of the quality breeding cattle, both pedigree and commercial cattle on sale, including the native breed of Luing cattle.
On Sunday morning the group headed off to Edinburgh University Farm, Langhill, Roslin. The farm was named as a finalist in the Agriscot Dairy Farm of the Year 2016 and members got to see the farm’s excellent production system and teaching facilities. Members enjoyed the tour and could adopt these techniques showcased at Langhill to benefit they’re enterprises back home. For the second half of the day the group headed to Glenrath Farm for a tour lead by John Campbell himself. The farm is known as one of the UK’s leading egg producers, producing just over a million eggs a day. On top of the poultry enterprise, they also keep 10,000 breeding ewes, plus 500 Limousin and Charolais suckler cows. The farm tour was an eye opener for members to see such a remarkable success large scale enterprise which once started off as a small family farm.
For the last day of the study tour the group headed to see Sion Williams of the Bowhill Estate. Sion Williams, a past Montgomery YFC member moved to Scotland to manage the estate back in 2004. Sion currently manages 8,800 acres of agricultural land running a 150 herd of pure Aberdeen Angus cows, 200 suckler cows and store calves alongside a hill flock of 2,700 Scottish Blackface breeding ewes and a further 1,300 crossbred ewes. The farm has also diversified and erected a 32,000 hen free range egg unit so that they are not fully dependant on agricultural subsidies, in order to be more self-sufficient. The farm also grows over 200 acres of arable crops in order to reduce feed costs, use renewable wind energy and have an anaerobic digester on site. Members were inspired by his technique in managing the hill farm in a such a successful manner.
Dafydd Jones, Wales YFC Rural Affairs chairman said: “This study tour was truly inspiring for all of our members for it being the first of its kind with Wales YFC. Over a period of only four days we managed to visit some of the most successful and influential farms in Scotland.
“On behalf of Wales YFC, I would like to thank all of the businesses associated with the study tour for making our visit memorable. Both committees are looking forward to organising another study tour in the near future.”