Programme of events

NB: Details of the 2018 Festival will be available soon. The information on these pages refers to the 2017 Festival.

With a full programme of exhibiting classes, seminars and demonstrations there’s something to see all day at the Festival.

Seminars and demonstrations

Once again the Festival has a broad and interesting series of seminars and demonstrations on topics relating to smallholding, all included in the ticket price.

9:30amJudging of goats, poultry & waterfowl, sheepMain market
10:00amGrazing lets and other agricultural tenancies
Robert Wild, Inksters
Robert Wild from Inksters Solicitors joins the Festival programme to look at grazing lets and other agricultural tenancies. Robert will consider grazing lets from the point of view of both landlord and tenant, considering whether they offer welcome flexibility or act as a drag on effective land management.

Read more »
Symington Suite
10:00amBig Boys’ (and girls’) Toys
Andy Findlay, SAC Consulting
A common headache for new (and old) smallholders is what machinery to buy – old tractor, new tractor, quad, 4WD, tank. It all depends on what operations you want or need to do and what your land is like – and how much money and what mechanical skills you have.

What’s certain is that most of us don’t have money to waste so Andy Findlay from SAC Consulting will outline the factors that need to be considered before we hit the cheque book. He’ll also cover aspects of safety around machinery.
Ring 1
10:00amGetting more from grazing
David Michie, Soil Association Scotland
Grass and clover are an ideal feed for cattle and sheep. They’re cheap, easy to grow in Scotland’s challenging climate, and are an obvious and natural thing for ruminants to eat. So how can we make the most of grazing? We’ll go through key ‘paddock grazing’ principles to make the most of what we’ve already got.

David has several years’ experience of working in agriculture: as a farmer, a trials officer, an advisor, and a lecturer. His work focuses on helping people understand and develop sustainable farming systems.
Ring 2
11:00amA Smallholders Tale: Producing free range poultry
Robert Morris, St Bride's Free Range Poultry
The Scottish Smallholder Festival is delighted to welcome Robert Morris from St Brides Free Range Poultry to the 2017 speaker programme. St Brides Free Range Poultry was established in 2009 on the Morris’s 8 acre family farm near Strathaven.

Using birds bred to grow slowly and produce flavourful meat, they raise birds outdoors and kill at 14 weeks (as opposed to the industry norm of around 35 days). The business produces guinea fowl, ducks and turkeys in addition to chickens and markets locally online, through a local Food Assembly and through an impressive array of upmarket restaurants.

Read more »
Symington Suite
11:00amAnimal Health Planning: not just for the big boys
Caroline Robinson, Veterinary Investigation Officer, SAC Consulting
Caroline will talk about animal health planning for smallholders – where to start, the advantages and pitfalls, and what facilities or habits might be useful when constructing a solid year-round plan to protect the holding. Involvement of an individual’s own vet is always necessary, but there are some things that smallholders can do or be aware of which can speed up the process and lead to greater benefits for all (both financial and wellbeing).

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Ring 1
11:00amMaking the most of research in small scale poultry keeping
Dr Oluynka Olukosi, SRUC
The aim of this talk is to apply some of the solutions to the big challenges to smallholding poultry flocks. The talk will focus on (among other things) minimising stress and stressors in poultry flock, using your diets as sources of nutrients and prebiotics, approaches to maximising production efficiency (focusing on product quantity and quality), as well as reducing nutrient waste.

Oluynka is reprising the excellent talk he gave at the Smallholding Scotland Conference in the spring - a must-see for small-scale poultry keepers.

Read more »
Ring 2
12 noonEngaging with communities
Sara Smith, RHASS and Rebecca Dawes, Open Farm Sunday
Open Farm Sunday is an annual event run each June, supported and promoted by Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF). Across the UK, hundreds of farms connect with thousands of visitors to showcase food and farming. Smallholders are in a unique position to support these links. Rebecca Dawes if the Scottish Co-ordinator for Open Farm Sunday; she and her family farm in Kinross and have been involved with the event for many years. We’re delighted to welcome her to the Festival as part of this doubleheader with RHET to explain how you can engage with your local community for mutual benefit.

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Symington Suite
12 noonAssessing soils
David Michie, Soil Association Scotland
Soils are the foundation of farming and growing. But do you know how good your soil is? And what do we mean by ‘good’ anyway? We’ll go through what a good soil is, and the simple assessments we can make to determine whether or not we actually have a good soil.

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Ring 1
12 noonKeeping alpacas
Pauline Robson, Westyett Alpacas
Pauline Robson from Westyett Alpacas rejoins the Festival speaker programme this year after a wee break to address some of the common questions she gets asked when she’s out and about at events with her alpacas.

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Ring 2
1:00pmPigs in conservation – more than a one trick pony
Jack Flusk and Katie Swift, Conservation Pigs
In 2012, Jack Flusk and Katie Swift established Conservation Pigs with two aims - firstly to support and enhance the conservation and management of landscapes for the benefit of flora and fauna, through the use of pigs and secondly, to actively support the conservation of British rare breed pigs through the use of pedigree registered pigs for all management activities.

Read more »
Symington Suite
1:00pmLand, Water and Waste; Navigating Environmental Regulation for the Scottish Smallholder
Farming and Water Scotland - Lucy Filby (SEPA) and Sarah Kerr (SRUC)
Come along to this session to find out ‘how to comply’ with current environmental legislation and also benefit your smallholding. This session will aim to clarify some of the environmental rules for Scottish smallholders with particular reference to management of wastes and water.

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Ring 1
1:00pm"What to do with my fleece"
Sue Blacker, The Natural Fibre Company
Sue will explain how to make sure your fleece is in the best possible condition prior to shearing, how to prepare your fleece after it’s shorn, what to aim for and the common pitfalls to look out for.

She’ll also talk you through the various stages of processing from full fleece to finished yarn, explaining the options and how the various processes can be used to create differing yarns. She will bring a selection of yarns made from British breeds wools and will discuss how to use individual breed yarns to their best advantage.
Ring 2
2:00pmProtecting your rural property
James Higgins, Police Scotland
James Higgins joins us from Police Scotland to offer sound, practical advice on how to protect your property and livestock. His presentation will be in two parts; firstly looking at crime prevention and farm security and secondly at protection of livestock.

Read more »
Symington Suite
2:00pmThe Butchery Demonstration
Gordon Gibb / QMS
One of our most popular sessions every year - Gordon Gibb and his wonderful demonstrations of butchery.

This event may be participatory. It will certainly be entertaining and informative.

Thanks to QMS for supporting this demonstration.
Ring 1
2:00pmPig Health: getting it right
Caroline Robinson, Veterinary Investigation Officer, SAC Consulting
Health and welfare of livestock should always be of the highest priority for any livestock keeper. As well as having a plan for the routine care, it’s also important to have an overview of potential major disease risks.

Caroline will be addressing issues of both during this talk.
Ring 2

Livestock judging

  • Sheep, Goat, and Poultry & Waterfowl show judging starts at 9:30am in the main market.

Rural skills

There are a small number of hands-on sessions throughout the day in the Rural Skills area, and on-stand.

See the Rural Skills page for more information about pompom making, broomstick crochet, beeswax candle rolling, hand spinning and leather working.

Equine Area

For 2017 we once again delve into our equine heritage and we’re delighted to welcome along representatives of some our wonderful native breed horses and ponies. Many folk getting into smallholding (and many existing smallholders) enjoy having an equine or two around the place – and they can do a job of work too.

Don’t miss the horse logging demonstration at 10am, and the Equine Parade at 1pm.

Full details of the equine events and breeds on show can be found on the Our Equine Heritage page.

Throughout the day there will be access to equines in the main market, including:

  • Clydesdale Horses
  • Shetland Ponies
  • Cleveland Bay Horses
  • Highland Ponies
  • Fell Ponies
  • Eriskay Ponies
  • Dartmoor Ponies
  • Exmoor Ponies
  • New Forest Ponies
  • Dales Ponies
  • Welsh Section A
  • French draft horse (logging)

Read more about our equine heritage.

Pig Paradise

Details of our pig paradise to follow.