Case Study: Jennifer Craig

1st July 2014

This article, about Jennifer Craig from Biggar, Lanarkshire, first appeared in the July 2014 edition of Sheep Farmer magazine. Jennifer (24) runs an upland farm with her father and is also an NSA Next Generation Ambassador.

The main aim on the farm at Normangill, both short and long term, is to increase the productivity of all the flocks and aim to be producing what the consumer wants.

As we are now almost completely EID throughout all ages of the sheep the next plan is to start an EID recording programme to aid with the management and performance of the ewes on the farm. This will then lead on to performance recording the sheep, initially with the pedigree Charollais and potentially rolling out across all three of the flocks. Looking further in to the future, I would like to investigate the possibility of putting cattle back on the farm in more depth.

As a young farmer in the sheep sector there are many challenges to be faced, but the opportunities are also in abundance. Adapting to change is a fundamental part of being successful in what is an ever-changing industry.

Being a hill farmer I am very passionate about the future of hill farming within Scotland. We are a sector that is in decline both in terms of sheep on the hills and also the people looking after them. Scotland would look very different without us. As I write this, we will very soon learn how the CAP reform will be implemented in Scotland and where we will all stand. There are many views on this and I, as every other person involved in farming, have my own opinion – but in the end we all have to deal with what comes, be it good or bad, and I believe we have the ability and the product to do so.

Getting a deserved return

Lamb, and in particular Scotch Lamb, is a fantastic product and we owe it to ourselves to look at different markets and ways of marketing it so that we get the return it so richly deserves.

On the whole I do believe the sheep industry in the whole of the UK has a bright future, but not an easy one. If we can rise to the challenges hopefully we will have a better industry for not just my generation but also the generations to come.

Fact File

  • 1,000 pedigree Blackface ewes.
  • 200 Blackface cross Charollais ewes put back to the Charollais to produce finished lambs.
  • Jennifer’s own flock of 25 pedigree Charollais ewes.
  • Option to use Beltex more in the future, as impressed by Blackface x Charollais x Beltex lambs born this year.
  • 1,750 acres of mainly hill ground.
  • Business managed by Jennifer and her father.