We started the day with breakfast at the hotel. Our first stop of the day was at SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College. The college is very similar to a Land Grant University in the United States and reminded me of Ohio State. There we learned about the programs that SRUC offers and a little bit about Scotland’s educational system. One thing that I found interesting was that Scotland is just now starting to see a disconnected public from agriculture. So, the college is trying to do more educational outreach to educated the public and children about where their food is coming from.
Then, we headed off to Roslin Institute Building. The institute is famous for the first animal cloned by a somatic cell otherwise known as Dolly the Sheep. Andy Peters, former Head of International Relations, had a presentation for us about the animal research that the institute is conducting currently. Their big project right now is researching the plasma in blood samples of pregnant cows to find out if the cow is pregnant as early as 8 days. At the institute they also served us a lunch consisting of sandwiches and desserts.
Next stop was Easter Howgate Farm a research center very close to Roslin Institute. There we saw lots of limousine cattle that were on different feed/test trials. They also had a few Holsteins, a Belgian blue, and some mixes. Most of the cattle were fed a mix of silage, dark grains, and barley. One of the more interesting tests being conduced was on measuring the amount of methane that the cattle produces. We also got to go into their sheep barn where they housed lots of bottle lambs.
Lastly, we went to Eastside Farm in Penicuik. This was my favorite stop of the day! The farm is set on 1230 hectares and has hundreds of Scottish Blackface sheep roaming the Pentland Hills. Alister Cowan is the farm owner and talked to us about what its like to run a hill sheep farm in Scotland. The farm has been in the family since the 1850s. The sheep were originally used for wool and now are all used for the meat industry. Alister doesn’t have to pay a feed bill because the sheep survive by grazing on the hillside. He also had his own windmill which provides electricity for his house and wood burner for his heating. I thought his lifestyle was fascinating and simple. Plus the views from his house were incredible!
Then we headed back to Edinburgh for the night where everyone was free to explore as they please!