EFFORTS to highlight the Scottish livestock sector’s green credentials were boosted this week when HRH The Princess Royal paid a visit to a Lanarkshire farm butchery business that relies almost entirely on grass to feed its animals.

Damn Delicious at Thankerton Camp Farm, Biggar, is owned by Michael Shannon, who is a passionate advocate of grass-based farming systems and their role in the production of top-quality Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI – providing a sharp contrast with imported meats that often come from intensively-fed systems.

The Princess Royal, in her capacity as patron of the Scotch Beef Club, was given a tour of the business, including viewing the paddock and rotational grazing system at Thankerton Camp, where Mr Shannon explained the grass varieties and grazing management techniques he uses to ensure optimal grass utilisation.

HRH also learnt about Mr Shannon’s participation in the UK GrassCheck project as well as his overwintering system where his cattle graze on forage crops with access to bales of silage – a system pioneered on Thankerton Camp Farm, where 100 hectares hosts a finishing cattle system with no housing. Mr Shannon currently finishes approximately 150 Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn cross cattle a year, two thirds of which he sells through Damn Delicious. He also runs a flock of 220 ewes producing finished lamb for the shop.

During the visit Princess Anne also viewed the Damn Delicious butchery units and farm shop, whilst Mr Shannon introduced his three staff members, and explained his diverse product range and the importance of his online business.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to have Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visit us today to learn all about our family-run business,” said Mr Shannon. “For us here at Thankerton Camp, we are extremely proud of all parts of our business from our innovative grazing management system which increases production and saves costs, to our successful online and farm shop business.

“We are committed to top quality produce and service and are currently investing in the expansion of the Damn Delicious butchery and farm shop business, with a particular focus on growing online sales.”

Quality Meat Scotland chair Kate Rowell was among those attending the event. She said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see the passion and enthusiasm that Mr Shannon has for producing and selling top quality Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb – brands which are globally-renowned for their world-leading quality assurance, exceptional quality and taste.

“Damn Delicious is a great example of using innovative farming methods to further build on the reputation the Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb brands have for provenance and quality.”

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk