Niall Armstrong  -  UK Beef and Lamb production - where is our future?

Worshipful Company of Butchers

Hello! I currently produce beef, lamb and free-range eggs in the Wigtownshire area of Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland.

In 2005, I graduated from the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh with a BSc Honours degree. Directly after this I returned home to work on the family farm and since 2007 have been in a business partnership with my brother.

We farm without the support of single farm payment (the subsidy scheme in Scotland) which has driven our business structure to change quite significantly over the past few years. We have reduced our beef suckler cow numbers to 100, increased our ewe numbers to 1100 and in 2010 we saw the arrival of the first hens for our new 32,000 bird free range egg production facility. In addition to this we have erected 3 small-scale wind turbines.  Our farming business is carried out on 300 ha of land spread over 3 holdings.

My topic is based on the future of UK beef and lamb production. These Ag industry sectors can be and have been very reliant on grain, fuel and fertiliser and global pressures are pushing these costs of production higher. It is my intention to ascertain what I can do to improve my business profitability, in particular, by reducing reliance on these commodities through increasing efficiency within a forage based system.  We have a fantastic supply of fertiliser from our poultry unit in a good grass growing area and my hope is to learn how to better utilise these attributes.

At the moment I intend to travel to Ireland, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.

I will always be grateful to the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and my sponsor, The Worshipful Company of Butchers for this unique opportunity.