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Stackyard News Apr 06

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Scotsheep 2006 Seminar Programme

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 Farmer.

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 nutrition.

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 a seminar.

“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.”

link Educational Day Out For Primary School Pupils at Scotsheep 2006
link Bank of Scotland to Sponsor Scotsheep 2006
link Scotsheep to return to Aberdeenshire In 2006

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