The Mitchell family have swapped a 1,000-ewe flock for a venture into deer farming.
SRUC Alumni Stuart Mitchell and his family at Whitriggs Farm are fawning over their new stock of red deer. They have built up the herd from scratch to 300 and are one of just 30 deer farms in Scotland.
“Here at Whitriggs Farm, we run just over 1,000-acres, 440 hectares, that we have 170 breeding cattle which are Shorthorn-cross-Angus,” Stuart explained.
“We started deer farming three years ago. We did a lot of research to find out what deer farming requires and try to and source some stock.”
Contract to sell all venison
They sourced their first deer, fifty in total, in July 2018 and the herd has tripled in size in such a short timeframe.
“The deer enterprise, when we look into it all, really suited the skillset we had. The animals are really amazing creates to work with.”
The family have a contract to sell all venison through First Venison, a co-operative. “They currently sell all their deer to Dovecot Park in Yorkshire which is sold to Waitrose.”
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in this. When we started our business, as they had just newly introduced a venison line to their abattoir.”
“We plan to keep growing the deer part of our business from the 330 we’re at now, up to 600. Once we get there, we will re-evaluate if we can go any further,” he concluded.