A Scottish exile, who is now one of New Zealand’s leading
sheep experts, will be among a top line-up of seminar speakers
at Scotsheep 2006 on Wednesday, June 7.
Scotland’s national sheep event will be held at Wellheads,
Huntly, Aberdeenshire, courtesy of the Gordon family, and is sponsored
by Bank of Scotland Corporate.
Dr George Cruickshank will join a galaxy of Scottish sheep experts
who will cover a range of topical issues, including easy care systems,
sheep health and export prospects, during the day-long seminar
programme. His visit to Scotland is being sponsored by the Scottish
Other speakers will include Dr John Vipond, SAC, and Dumfries
farmer, Marcus Maxwell, who has pioneered easy care sheep management
systems in the UK and was recently named Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer
of the Year, and Prof Willie Donachie and Dr David Buxton, both
Moredun Institute, who will discuss sheep health.
The seminar programme will finish with a Question Time session
chaired by Donald Biggar, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland. Members
of the panel will include Aberdeenshire sheep farmer, Alan Ross,
meat wholesaler, Paul Barker, Woodhead Bros, and QMS marketing
controller, Laurent Vernet.
Dr Cruickshank was brought up on the family farm of Logie Newton,
Huntly, Aberdeenshire – his father and four brothers still
farm there and on nearby farms – and graduated BSc Agri from
Aberdeen University in 1981 and PhD (Animal Science) from Lincoln
College, Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1986 with a thesis on sheep
Since graduating, he has been involved in sheep research and advisory
work in New Zealand and until his recent move into private consultancy,
was general manager of Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) which was charged
with the genetic improvement of the New Zealand national sheep
flock. The industry uptake of genetic evaluation techniques was
lifted from 220 flocks in 1999 to 770 flocks in 2004, covering
55-60% of all rams used in New Zealand.
Dr Cruickshank will give an insight into how New Zealand sheep
farmers coped with the loss of subsidies more than 20 years ago
and highlight the importance of genetics, selection and clear objectives
in operating a profitable and sustainable sheep enterprise.
“I want to challenge conventions and open farmers’ eyes
to different ways of doing things,” said Dr Cruickshank. “The
objective is to improve the profitability of sheep production through
the development and commercial application of improved genetics.”
Dr Cruickshank now operates his own private consultancy, GeneQuest
Ltd – his ram breeding clients sell more than 10,000 rams
per year - and has his own 120-acre sheep and beef farm where he
runs a small flock of 160 pedigree Polled Dorset ewes.
Scotsheep chairman, John Gregor, said he was delighted that Dr
Cruickshank – a fellow student at Aberdeen University – had
accepted the organising committee’s invitation to conduct
“I am sure we have a lot to learn from New Zealand about
subsidy-free farming which is now so important in the UK following
CAP reforms,” said Mr Gregor. “Who better than George
who has a practical understanding of sheep farming both in New
Zealand and the UK.”
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