Fluffy Moos - taking cow preparation to new heights

Fluffy Moos - taking cow preparation to new heights

Name of organisation/business: 
Fluffy Moos
Funding: 
Scottish Borders LEADER: £37,243.11
Scottish Rural Development Programme priority: 
Supporting agricultural and forestry businesses
 

Location

Morebattle
Kelso
Scottish Borders
        
Contact details: 
Robert Wilson cowbog@aol.com

What are the aims of your project?

Fluffy Moos is a diversification of a traditional family farm with the addition of a revenue generating project using the skill set and knowledge of the team.

The aims are:

  1. to offer hands-on experience days in aspects of ‘farm life’ – initially the traditional role of livestock showing and sheep dog herding. This challenging and competitive aspect of the agricultural industry will also be utilised for team building/bonding days
  2. offer expert training to those already engaged with the livestock industry who wish to gain more knowledge of how best to prepare their animals for competition and sale
  3. forge links with training organisations to help develop the skills of those wishing to peruse a career in the livestock industry
  4. forge links with (a) local suppliers to highlight local produce and (b) local accommodation facilities for participants at Fluffy Moos

We are still in the process of setting the project up but have already started on points 2-4 above.

Who’s involved?

The team will consist predominately of Robert and Lucy Wilson with help and expert advice in specialist areas from others involved in the industry.

Suppliers in the area will be used where they can in all aspects of the project, but especially those in the food and drink industry. 

How was the project funded?

This project has been able to happen owing to funding from Scottish Borders LEADER. The other remaining funds required have come from the Business.

Where did you go for help and advice?

Through research we became aware of the funding available to projects of this nature. With this knowledge we contacted the LEADER team who have been more than helpful in assisting us with the project, from initial application to where we are at this point. Follow up visits and guidance through the development process have been essential to the projects success.

An option was to use a third party agent but we felt we knew this project better than anyone. However, without the support through the process from the LEADER team this may have been considered.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

With Brexit looming and the uncertainty for agriculture owing to this, we feel we now have another ‘string to our bow’ over and above what the business has been producing for years. Agriculture is a heavily subsidised industry that enjoys access to the single market, both are at risk, and with it rural businesses and services, over and above family farms. It may not amount to the worst but we feel it is better planning for this and being pleasantly surprised!  

Farming may seem a very simple industry – plant crops, they grow, you harvest them. Buy some animals, ‘put them together’, make more animals, sell them! But there are many skills and knowledge involved in this that we as an industry take for granted. We (hopefully!) have found a way to utilise these skills and will be provided with an opportunity for knowledge transfer and education.

And the biggest challenge?

As an industry we are used to filling in forms but certainly the ones to apply for funding were daunting! However with assistance (again LEADER), we overcame this and completed on time.

We found having the initial thought was one thing but making the project come together was another. It was also a very random suggest to make to a team of people who had limited experience in comparison to ourselves of the subject! Therefore careful thought was needed to make those scrutinising the project understand what facility we were trying to create.

Dealing with lots of tradesmen has been an interesting experience for us which has pushed the completion back a little!

Any tips for those setting up a similar project?

We have learnt a great deal from carrying out this project, right from the application processes. It is another skill learnt and while we are obviously delighted Fluffy Moos was seen in a favourable light, carrying out the application process was beneficial in the insight it gave to planning a project.

For those looking to do similar we would suggest taking time is the biggest plus. We rushed slightly and put ourselves under pressure, trying to do to much at once. This is a big project for the business and should be treated as such. Eventually shutting the office door and finding others to carry out the more menial day-to-day tasks was worthwhile. We found trying to complete application forms properly after a day's work couldn't be done.

There is also no right time to carry out either the application or project. You have to prioritise and realise the long-term benefit rather than saying you're too busy.

We are not close to the urban fringes or adjacent to a motorway, and with enough accommodation providers already in the area with felt more traditional diversifications where not going to work for us so looked towards our skills and business and asked what we could offer, on what ever scale most farms could create an additional offering and it may take many ideas to strike on the correct for each individual.

What’s next for your project?

We are nearly there in completion of major works but there are a number of finer details to iron out. Planning a launch is the priority at the moment together with website development, and of course training our bovine helpers!

Looking at where we can add value is a focus too.