Economic condition of crofting: 2019 to 2022

This is a report to the Scottish Parliament as outlined in the terms of section 51 of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, reflecting the economic condition of crofting and the measures taken by the Scottish Ministers, the Crofting Commission and others to support crofting during 2019 to 2022.

11. Cattle Improvement Scheme

11.1. In April 2013, the Scottish Government completed its £3 million renovation of the stud farm facilities at Knocknagael in Inverness. The modernised stud facility provides quality accommodation for the bulls, optimising their welfare and enabling crofters to continue to benefit from access to high quality, healthy bulls and the supply of quality calves to the beef industry throughout Scotland and beyond.

11.2. Despite the level of investment by the Scottish Government, the hire costs of the bulls have only been increased in line with inflation. The scheme continues to subsidise bull hire by groups of crofters, by up to 60% of the full cost. The annual net cost for running the bull stud is approximately £410,000 per year. Table 11.1 below provides statistics on the number of bulls hired, the number of groups of crofters involved, and the number of beneficiaries.

Table 11.1 Cattle Improvement Scheme
Year Bulls Hired No. of Participating townships No. of Crofters Benefitting
2018-19 115 117 492
2019-20 118 127 503
2020-21 117 137 494
2021-22 115 120 485
2022-23[8] 116 136 466

11.3. The scheme continues to supply bulls to the areas where no practical alternative means of service are readily available. Scheme staff are able to offer advice and guidance on all matters relating to the husbandry and welfare of the bulls, their mates and progeny. Some townships have returned to the scheme, citing that it is their best option to obtain a good quality sire for their cattle. Approximately 3,500 calves are sired annually by Scottish Government bulls, from which home-bred replacement heifers are retained and the surplus sold on.

11.4. The scheme helps crofting communities in a number of ways, such as:

  • Economically – the bulls purchased for the scheme are chosen using Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) as one of the criteria when choosing the animals to be purchased. All bulls purchased are in the top 50% of EBV for the breeds, producing a quality progeny to sell or to breed replacement heifers from.
  • Environmentally - it encourages producers to keep cattle in environmentally sensitive areas, which helps with keeping these areas in good condition and encouraging local wildlife.



Back to top