Orkney life has centred on farming for many centuries and Orcadians were traditionally regarded as farmers who fished (while Shetlanders were known as fishermen who farmed). Today, agriculture remains the most important industry in Orkney and provides the highest percentage of gross domestic product of any Scottish county. Orkney meat is renowned as the best in the country and is sold in butcher shops across Britain and served in the finest restaurants. Orkney-raised animals fetch premium prices in auction marts here and in Scotland. And top prizes are won at agricultural shows across the isles and further afield with judges always impressed with the quality of locally bred and raised animals.
Orkney has its own mart and an abattoir, now run by a consortium of local butchers. Orkney meat is a premium product largely because of our clean environment and the high standards of animal husbandry in the islands. Orkney was one of the first areas to produce fully traceable beef, with cattle enjoying a forage-based diet in green and fertile fields.
North Ronaldsay lamb and mutton from the island's seaweed-eating sheep that graze on the shore, is another much sought after product. Grass-fed lamb from Orkney is also available. Pork and poultry production in Orkney is not a huge enterprise, but like everything else here, it's of a very high quality. Wildfowling and geese shooting attracts hunters to Orkney for sporting holidays, with some local butchers now specialising in goose meat products.