Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Builder Ally Baird admits to being a bit of a perfectionist and since he first got his eye on Zwartble sheep he has applied these principles to establishing his flock.
Ally’s first introduction to farming was helping out with the flock run by his wife Moyra’s father near Dunblane in Perthshire.
“I am a builder first and foremost,” said Ally, who established his business Ally Baird Building and Roofing Services 14 years ago which he runs from Greystone Cottage, Dunblane.
“My father in law Miller McLaren was running 350 white sheep which Moyra and I were helping out with. I first got my eye on Zwartbles at a show and liked the breed,” said Ally. His love of livestock is probably in the genes as his grandfather was a farmer.
“Then I went to my first sale of Zwartbles in Stirling in September 2011 and I paid ‘enough’ money for my first six pedigree ewes and a ram. On Christmas Day that year I made the fatal error of saying I was going to compete at the Highland Show the next year.”
Ally has taken his entry into the world of pedigree sheep breeding very seriously realising it is vital to market the breed and his own flock at shows and sales across the UK to achieve any return from his investment.
“It was a very steep learning curve and you have to do the donkey work, but if you don’t learn quickly you don’t get on - you have got to have an end product, whether it’s prime lamb or show sheep, otherwise you are wasting time, effort and money,” said Ally, who has learned from watching others prepare and show sheep.
“It has got to be a good sheep to begin with but it’s about preparation and showmanship and not about having deep pockets. For me, this is a hobby, but it has to wash its face,” he added.
In 2012 at the Highland Show he was still learning the ropes and how to prepare the sheep for the show ring and while he didn’t get any tickets he vowed he would be back to win.