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A new guide designed for commercial sheep farmers who retain home-produced ewe lambs as breed replacements was launched by Quality Meat Scotland’s Scottish Sheep Strategy at Scotsheep today.

The “Guide To Breed Replacement Selection” – known as ELSA – is based on an easy-to-use system for home-produced lambs. While it does not replace the Signet breeding system for pedigree sheep it will help producers maximise the genetics in their flocks rather than relying on “eye” alone.

A new grassland management regime is on the cards for a farm in Caithness which is trialling new mixes to find out if the switch will translate into increased returns from its livestock enterprise.

Two new mixes, which will include high-yield red clover, are being used on a reseed at Westfield Farm, recently appointed as a QMS monitor farm, operating with support from Scottish Government and a number of local agricultural sponsors.

The challenges created by exceptionally cold weather this spring are becoming evident just one month into the new season lamb market, according to Stuart Ashworth, Head of Economics Services at Quality Meat Scotland.

Speaking at Scotsheep today (Wednesday, June 2 2010) Mr Ashworth said the smaller ewe flock meant there were fewer lambs to start with and slow grass growth has also hindered lamb growth rates.

Quality Meat Scotland’s Scottish Sheep Strategy launched the results of the fourth year of its “Benefits of Better Breeding in the Scottish Sheep Sector” project - better known as the Sheep Focus Farm project - today at Scotsheep.

Phase one of the project produced two consecutive years worth of data from the six Sheep Focus Farm businesses taking part in the project and showed that on average the use of a High Index recorded tup could bring cumulative gains averaging £10 per ewe both from the hill and lowland flocks.

Three Scottish pig farmers were treated to some VIP treatment when Miss Scotland, Katharine Brown, took them for a spin to celebrate the launch of a campaign for pork from farms inspected by the Scottish SPCA.

The new Quality Meat Scotland campaign highlights the high welfare standards of pigs on Scottish farms. Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector, Paul Anderson, also supported the launch of a fleet of “Specially Selected Pork Approved by Scottish SPCA” branded taxis. Thirty liveried taxis will be making their appearance over the next two months in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Two policemen savoured a well-earned dram on Monday after a six-day epic challenge which included swimming the entire 107 miles of the River Spey.

Edinburgh-based police constable Dougie Bulmer, originally from Newtonmore in Speyside, completed the swim of Scotland’s second longest river – equivalent to swimming the Channel five times!

He was accompanied in the challenge by colleagues from Lothian and Borders Police, Craig Robertson from Edinburgh and David Murray from Aberdour, who cycled and ran the length of the river.

The benefits of the monitor farm programme may extend much further than previously thought, delegates at a workshop run by Quality Meat Scotland heard this week.

Farmers from all over Scotland who are involved in the monitor farm programme, along with the facilitators who support the project, gathered to pool ideas on making the most of the programme in the future.

The potential for the programme to nurture the rural leaders of the future was one area under discussion and a project to investigate this is underway, lead by Julian Pace of Scottish Enterprise.

Pupils at a Dumfriesshire school found their school dinners had some extra sparkle today (Monday, May 24th) when Katharine Brown, Miss Scotland, served them lunch.

Katharine was happy to don a dinner lady uniform to serve pupils at Moffat Academy a choice of Scotch Beef meatballs or Scotch Lamb burgers with salad and coleslaw as part of a healthy eating campaign she is working on with Quality Meat Scotland.