James Drummond

2021 Sheep Farmer of the Year winner

A&WJ Drummond,

When he returned to the family farming business 12 years ago, James Drummond started the move away from a traditional stratified breeding system to one focused on forage and data-led decisions.

He began to change the flock’s genetic base to run Aberfield crossbreeding stock, with 1,300 embryos implanted over two years to set up a nucleus flock of pure Aberfields on-farm.

A further two breeds have been introduced on-farm with a total of 2,400 embryos implanted to set up pure flocks of Aberfield, Abertex and Aberdale ewes to breed rams for Innovis’ sale structure. With the embryos always intended to be a means to get the desired ewe numbers on-farm, mating is now done naturally.

The focus is on maximising the utilisation of pasture during the growing season.

Fodder beat and brassicas are used to carry stock through the winter shortfall, with 1,150 sheep wintered on  min-tilled beet before starting the prelambing rotation on pasture and 400 mated ewe lambs wintered on a direct drilled kale and swede mix.

Developing the grazing strategies incorporated on-farm has required considerable investment in infrastructure. Many miles of permanent fencing has been installed, while further miles of semi-permanent and temporary electric fencing is used to subdivide fields in the cropping rotation.

Improved grazing management and investment in infrastructure to make this successful means the farm is now carrying twice the number of sheep and cattle with less labour and feed requirement; the increase in productivity and reduction in production costs reflected in the business’ bottom line.

Breeding stock

Large-scale ram production and selling female breeding stock has enabled increased profitability for stock that makes the grade but continuing to add value to all stock produced on-farm has been a focus for James latterly.

James recently had an application to set up a food processing facility accepted which will see produce sold direct from the farm as fresh and frozen cuts and ready meals.