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NSA Scotsheep is a biennial event organised by NSA Scotland and will be the most important specialist event in the calendar for sheep producers in Scotland and North of England in 2024.

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Organised by the Scottish Region of the National Sheep Association (NSA), NSA Scot Sheep 2024 will be held on Wednesday 5th June 2024, at Aikengall Farm, Innerwick, Dunbar, East Lothian, where the Hamilton family; James, Charles and Harry, along with their mother Vanessa and their late father John moved in 1998, from Dykefoot and South Cobbinshaw in Lanarkshire.

The 2024 event will follow the successful format developed over recent years and will include an extensive trade stand area with approximately 160 commercial and educational trade stands, 40 sheep breed societies trade stands/demonstrations; farm tour; comprehensive seminar and workshop programme; educational and working demonstrations; sheep dog trial; show and sale of pairs of ewe hoggs; fencing, stockjudging and NSA Next Generation Shepherd of The Year competitions as well as inviting schoolchildren from local schools in the East Lothian area to attend through the Royal Highland Educational Trust.

Since taking on Aikenagall farm where its 1900 acres (770ha) on the edge of the Lammermuir Hills, rise from 900 to 1200ft, the Hamilton family has extended their farming interests, incorporating the neighbouring 400 acre (160ha) farm of Thurston Mains in 2004, taking on the tenancy of the 1200 acres (485ha) farming unit of Nunraw farm at Garvald in 2010 and the 600 acre (240ha) farm of Barney Mains, Near Haddington, in 2022. The Hamiltons also contract farm an upland unit of 2000 acres (800ha) at Heriot, Midlothian with the Walgate family. This has helped them grow their business and run over the farming units 2800 breeding ewes and a commercial herd of suckler cows, finishing all progeny on home grown feed and breeding replacements on a closed flock/herd basis, only buying in tups and bulls as required.

The Hamilton’s lamb 1400 head each year at Aikengall, comprising 700 Blackface ewes bred pure for replacements, with the remaining 700 Blackface ewes crossed to the Bluefaced Leicester for producing Scotch Mules, where the females are retained for breeding. 1400 Scotch Mule ewes are put to the Texel tup and lambed at Nunraw in March.

The farms also support a beef enterprise of 900 spring calving commercial cows, based on the Simmental breed using Simmental, Lincoln Red and latterly Aberdeen Angus bulls.

Progeny that isn’t suitable for breeding is finished on the farms and sold deadweight.

Barley and wheat are grown at Thurston Mains and at Barney Mains where Charles now lives, with extra barley sold for malting and wheat for milling if specification can be achieved.

The natural environment is treated as an equal enterprise on the farm with various stewardship schemes, latterly Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP)/ Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) having played a significant role in the development and improvement of infrastructure and habitats on the predominantly upland unit at Aikengall.

As well as this, Aikengall also hosts Aikengall Wind Farm with Community Wind Power Ltd which became operational in 2009, comprising 16 Vestas V90 wind turbines. These wind turbines have a tip height of 125 metres, and each has a generating capacity of 3MW, generating enough electricity to power approximately 31,500 homes and based on displacing around 54,200 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per annum.

NSA Scotsheep, 2022 was held at Over Finlarg Farm, Tealing, Dundee (postponed from 2020 due to Covid), In 2018 at Kings Arms Farm, Ballantrae, in 2016 at Glenrath Farms, Peeblesshire, in 2014 at Quickswood Farms, Berwickshire and in 2012 at Dumfries House, Cumnock.

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