Colin Davidson

Skaill Farm,
Messrs Davidson,

Sustainability is at the heart of Colin Davidson’s business, where, along with his family, he farms 405 hectares (1,000 acres), of which, 162ha (400 acres) is coastal heath and the remaining 243ha (600 acres) can be cultivated.

The 230-head suckler herd includes 100 pedigree Aberdeen Angus cows, with the family breeding all their own replacements and most of their bulls. They also run 300 pedigree Lleyn ewes, with lambs fattened off grass and some kept as replacements.

Colin sells about 30 Aberdeen Angus bulls a year, both on and off the island, which is a growing part of the business, and social media has become an important part of advertising. Due to the location of the farm, cost reduction and efficiency is paramount.

Home-grown cereals, straw and silage are used to reduce costs and the only bought-in feed resource is protein and minerals, which includes a Carbon Trust-assured additive to reduce methane and increase efficiency.

Cows are outwintered and calved outside on the sand dunes, ensuring the quick draining ground is used to its potential. By improving the feed efficiency of the cattle there is the potential to reduce the feeding cost per animal, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of each kilo of beef produced.

Closely monitoring diets to maximise and record feed efficiency and residual feed intake means data can be incorporated into estimated breeding values and allow better selection in future breeding programmes.


Colin has invested in C-lock precision feeding technology, comprising of individual feed bunkers and weigh scales which take daily measures of feed intake and animal weight. This allows selection of animals with the most efficient genetics which can then be retained and multiplied within the herd.

This, along with the import of high genetic merit embryos from the USA, is adding value to the herd.

This use of technology differentiates the herd from others, allowing Colin to sell Aberdeen Angus cattle with increased data behind them and gives customers reassurance they are buying cattle with the traits they need.

What the Judges said: 

Colin demonstrated a willingness to change, invest and take risks to improve his business and he has used innovation based on sustainability which is already producing results.

Skiall Farm Facts

  • 405 hectare unit
  • 230-head suckler herd including 100 pedigree Aberdeen Angus cows
  • Selling bulls off the island becoming an increasing part of the business
  • Focus on sustainability
  • Developed top quality genetics into breeding herds
  • Investment in C-lock precision feeding technology to improve efficiencies