Farming – Borders Estate
We currently farm 3563 hectares (8804 acres) at Bowhill with the majority of the land lying between the Yarrow and Ettrick Valleys.
We grow 40 hectares (100 acres) of spring barley and 8 hectares (20 acres) spring oats for stock feed and 36 hectares (89 acres) of Kale for fattening lambs and feeding suckler cows, the remainder of the land is down to grass or heather moorland.
Pedigree Cows – We currently run 150 premium health pure Aberdeen Angus cows, from which we produce replacements for the remainder of the herd. The herd also produces pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeding stock for selling to pedigree and commercial farmers. All of the cows calve in the spring during a nine week period from the 13th March.
Suckler Cows – We have around 50 premium health commercial cows of which we breed further replacements for the herds and produce beef calves for beef production. The breeds involve a Beef Shorthorn crossed to the Angus for production of breeding and sale replacements, all of which calve around the 13th March for a period of nine weeks.
A further 200 suckler cows held on the hill farm are predominantly Shorthorn X. where the Charolais is used as a sire for the bulk of the Beef calves. All of the cows calve in the spring over a nine week period with the due dates for the main herd being the 5th April and heifers calving down 2 weeks earlier. These cows are currently in their first qualifying year of premium health.
Store Calves – For winter housing the calves are weaned from their mothers and housed on straw/slats before being sold store. On an annual basis there will be around 370 beef store calves fed through this system. Roughly 90 heifers will be maintained with about approximately 70 going into herds and the balance will be sold as premium health heifers between 12-18 months. The balance of the calves will be sold at turnout at about 12 months of age.
Hill Flock – We currently run 2690 Scottish Blackfaced breeding ewes which are maintained on the 2059 hectares (5090 acres) heather moorland at Bowhill. Our general breeding practice is to produce pure bred Blackies or crossing to a maternal New Zealand sire which increases growth and size and produces replacements for the in-bye flock.The remainder of these lambs are used for fat lamb production, from which we supply Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s.
In-bye Flock – We currently run 1300 Pure Highlander, Primera, plus crossbreeds such as Highlander x, Lleyn x and Greyfaced Ewes (all maternal crosses to the Scottish Blackface). These are mainly kept for fat lamb production, however we do produce pure Highlander and Primera breeding stock for selling sires or for keeping as replacements. The remainder of the lamb is sold to Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s.
A further 250 BF Blackface ewes are contract farmed for the Estate.
Free Range Eggs – Bowhill operates a 32,000 hen free range egg laying unit on the farm. This was a diversification project for the farming business as it does not rely on agricultural subsidies. The unit was erected in 2005 and has been an asset to the business as it supplies chicken muck manure to the arable and grassland enterprises on the farm. This helps reduce costs and benefits the environment by using fewer non-organic fertilisers.