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Livestock and Crofting on a Common Grazings

Livestock Handling

Handling systems for cattle and sheep are often labour intensive and a mis-match of old and new.  For more information about options available to you, see our livestock handling systems and common grazings page.

Sheep Scab on Common Grazings

Sheep scab is a highly contagious disease with serious animal welfare implications and significant economic costs. It is therefore essential that all sheep put on common grazings are free from scab and are regularly checked for ectoparasites.  For a step by step information on how to diagnose, prevent and treat scab click here.

Quality Meat Scotland - note on group membership

Common Grazings are often the engine room of livestock production in Crofting Counties. Find out about group membership for QMS to make this product 'Scotch' - QMS Cattle and Sheep Assurance Scheme

New Technology

As part of our Common Grazings discussion group, members expressed a desire to learn more about how new technology could support their croft.  The group took a trip to SRUC's Research Farm at Kirkton and Auchtertyre to find out more - you can see the equipment they used in the video below.

If you're interested in this area, here are a couple of papers into further research being done:

Electronic Identification: Making the most out of compulsory tagging
EID and Other Technological Advances in Small Ruminant Research

For more information on CAGS grants see the Rural Payments website here.

Crofting Cattle Improvement Scheme (Bull Hire Scheme)

The Crofting Cattle Improvement Scheme, often referred to as the ‘commission bull hire scheme’ is open to groups of at least two crofters within the crofting areas, providing high health bulls in areas where ownership and commercial hiring are uneconomic.

The Scottish Government Bull Stud at Knocknagael manages the bulls that support the scheme.

The benefits of co-operating with neighbours with this scheme include

  • Reduced cost per cow served
  • High Health bulls are provided
  • Reduced risk, as the bull stud will provide a replacement if the bull has an accident or stops working

Guidance documents

What steps to we need to take if we want to participate?

  • The group should decide who will be the custodian of the bull (NB the custodian must be under 70 years of age) and ensure they know all the duties involved. (See guidance notes below.)
  • The group should decide which cattle keepers are going to use the bull and how the fees are going to be split and collected.
  • The group should decide what, if any, conditions of cow health i.e. in a health scheme need to be met to be able to use the bull.
  • The group should decide if they will return the bull in the autumn or if they wish to overwinter it.
  • If they decide they want to overwinter it they need to ensure they have adequate facilities for housing and that it is a sensible economic decision.
  • The group should decide if they want to take out insurance cover for personal accidents. The scheme arranges public liability cover of £2,000,000 and also minimal cover for the custodians under personal accident insurance
  • Consider if worthwhile co-operating with a neighbouring township to allow both a maternal and a terminal bull to be hired every year. This would allow suitable heifers/cows to be selected for different breeding policies.
  • Contact the Farm Manager if you have any queries on 01463 231 261 / 07767 673717 or email

Bull Hire for Crofters Webinar Recording

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