PSGHS Member Profile: David Milne

Having grown up on an arable and pig farm, it wasn’t until four years ago that David made the decision to start his flock of pedigree Hampshire Downs.  Reflecting on his past David says, “I enjoyed the arable side, the mechanisation and even did contracting for a bit. But I could never interest myself in the pigs.”  Not wanting to miss out on the livestock experience altogether, the decision was made four years ago to start keeping sheep.

Looking back on this decision David explained his reasons for choosing the Hampshire Down breed: “Having decided to start a flock, I was keen to get into a British native breed. I looked at the Suffolk, but also looked at others that had commercial potential, and was going to make my mind up between the Hampshire or the Ryeland. On the Saturday afternoon of the Royal Highland Show in 2015 a breeder caught me again looking at his stock (after I’d had a good lunch and a couple of glasses…) with the remark, ‘Well Mr Milne are you going to keep kicking the tyres, or drive the car?’ ‘Drive the car’, was my reply, so that was the die cast. We went to see the breed on show at the Great Yorkshire Show in July of that year and took it from there – buying two in-lamb ewe lambs and two gimmers.”

David now runs a flock of 44 Hampshires in total, so far selling finished male lambs and keeping ewe lambs back to grow the flock, as well as a couple of ram lambs that will soon be ready to sell on for breeding.  David adds, “Our flock is synchronised and lamb in the week running up to Christmas. As a down’s breed they could lamb twice a year, although I have not found anyone with experience of doing this.”

As his first purchases were from an MV accredited flock, David was keen to keep the accredited status and joined the health scheme straight away.  Moving forward tups have been sourced from the breed sales at Stirling, including the 2nd prize winning ram lamb in May 2019, selling for 500gns  David has also turned his hand to showing, first entering the Banchory show three years ago, commenting that, “farmers liked our animals but our preparation for show left a lot to be desired...”  However, in 2018, with some help with some help in the dressing of the sheep, David won a minor rosette at Turriff show, before winning a first and a second at last year’s show.

When asked about his goals for his flock, David answers: “It’s all about learning while I can. I have worked in industries other than farming, machinery manufacture, deep sea diving and instrument calibration. I treat every day as a school day and I’m keen to learn. Longer term I would to get better and more knowledgeable in sheep keeping and hopefully sell on to others who could take an interest in the breed, which I think is somewhat overlooked in our area, although we had a fair bit of interest in our sheep from onlookers at Turriff last year.”

David’s passion for learning has also led him to recently enrol in SRUC’s Genomics for Animal Breeding course. “I would encourage anyone with an interest in animal breeding to do it – if you are interested and can find time to watch TV in an evening, you can do this instead!”  The desire to learn runs in the family, as David’s daughter, Georgie, is currently studying for a degree in Rural Business Management at SRUC, while working part time on quality assurance at a local feed company and helping/learning with the sheep at home, but hoping to follow a career in land agency once graduated.

David’s final comments were of thanks to those who have helped him on his journey into keeping Sheep. “Thanks to our local vets, our neighbours who are also PSGHS members and SRUC, all of who have been hugely helpful.  Help is there if you ask for it – never be scared to ask!”

Posted by SRUC Veterinary Services on 21/05/2020