Farming Scotland Magazine (September - October 2014)

Page 58

SHEEP

Easter Ross Family Aims to Increase Flock Size and Kilos Produced from Grass

The long-term sheep strategy of the host family of the new Easter Ross Grazing Group is to almost double the size of their flock, lower costs and increase the kilos of lamb they produce per hectare. Bayfield Farm near Nigg, farmed by Duncan Scott in partnership with his parents David and Gill, will host one of six new Grazing Groups which are being set up throughout Scotland by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). The initiative is aimed at improving livestock producers’ profitability by maximising the kilograms of meat produced per hectare from grass with the first meeting of the Easter Ross Grazing Group taking place on Wednesday 23rd July, starting at 1.30pm. The Scotts’ farm business, based about 40 miles north of Inverness, includes the main home unit, Cadbollmount a 700 acres owned unit which is largely used for growing cereals, and a further 500 acres of more upland grassland rented locally. This includes the tenanted Bayfield Farm,

which is largely comprised of improved hill and will be the focus of the Grazing Group activity. The Scotts went out of sheep farming nine years ago when Duncan was away at agricultural college but then returned to sheep production four years ago with the purchase of 800 Cheviot ewes. These Cheviot ewes were put to Easy Care tups with the female “Chevease” progeny from this cross retained. The Scott's sell all their lambs live through the Dingwall and Highland Marts ring and last year the majority of lambs were finished, averaging 39kgs, with 180 being sold store. “At the moment we are not managing to finish all the lambs off grass and we need to use stubble turnips and some creep feed. We start selling lambs in December, with the majority going away in February, March and April,” said Duncan Scott. The farm has one employee, Adrian Munro, who assists with both tractor work and stock work. Duncan Scott is,

however, focused on increasing his ewe numbers and, if all goes to plan, he envisages taking on a shepherd once the flock is up to around 1400 ewes. As well as running 500 acres of cereals – winter barley, oilseed rape, winter wheat, spring barley and oats – the family runs 70 suckler cows which are Aberdeen Angus cross and Simmental cross and these are put to Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn bulls. “We operate a very low maintenance sheep enterprise

and, with Dad likely to start taking things a bit easier in the coming years, it is likely that more of my time will be taken up with the cattle and arable side of the business which is the side he is most involved in at the moment. “We’d like to be looking at taking someone on to help with the sheep work in five or six years time but our focus will remain on producing lambs using a low maintenance system,” said Duncan Scott.

MSD Animal Health showcases new digital flock health management solution EXPERTISTM LivestockPro is available on-line for free and is an easy-to-use, websitebased computer application designed to make flock vaccine and animal health product scheduling much simpler. Previewing the new application, project co-ordinator Marcus Sanders from MSD Animal Health, said sheep producers will benefit enormously from the new digital system. “EXPERTISTM LivestockPro really will make life easier for UK sheep producers. Shepherds will no longer have to rely on memory or written records in a 58

filing cabinet or on a farm office wallchart to schedule animal health treatments. Embracing the new digital system will certainly save time and money, and ultimately reduce livestock losses from key sheep diseases. Adopt the application as a key flock management tool – installing it on your farm computer, tablet or even personal smartphone – and you will be unlikely to miss a key animal health product usage date ever again,” he claimed. The new application also keeps track of vaccine stock levels on the farm and even

reminds users to order additional product before it is needed. Users can set up various alerts on any Internet-connected device. LivestockPro also incorporates medicinal product information and advice on correct vaccine administration.

www.farmingscotlandmagazine.com

Sheep producers interested in becoming early adopters of the innovative new digital flock health management solution should visit www.livestockpro. co.uk or e-mail MSD Animal Health livestockpro@merck. com] for further information.