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61 MAG 12/1/10 2:52 pm Page 1 Issue sixty-one • January 2010

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PERTH BULL SALES 15th - 16th February 2010 – STIRLING Auctioneers: United Auctions Ltd (01786 849989) 311 bulls forward

CARLISLE 5th March 2010 Auctioneers: Harrison & Hetherington Ltd (01228 640924)

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CONTENTS Issue sixty-one • January 2010

farmingscotland Issue sixty-one • January 2010

4 6



Animal Health

Highlands Blondes

Urinary Calculi


Eilidh MacPherson

farmingscotland is written, edited and designed in Scotland. This publication reports industry wide over the whole of Scotland and N of England and is distributed free for farmers and crofters to abattoirs, livestock markets, farm supplies and SERID offices from the Borders to the Butt of Lewis, from Stranraer to the Shetland Isles and Clitheroe to Cumbria. EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway, DG7 3TE Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 0797 7897867

appy New Year, Happy New Decade! Congratulations to the winners of our two winter prize draws. The winner of the dinner, bed and breakfast at the five star Enterkine Country House is Angela Lyon, Knowhead Farm, Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire. The four lucky readers, who will now be roasty toasty in their beds with wool duvets from the Woolroom, are; Drew Guthrie, Myreside, Hartwoodside, Selkirk, Mrs E Frame, Turdees Farm, Newhouse, Motherwell, Sonia Filby, SAC Auchincruive, Ayr and Malcolm White, Taigh Geal, Pinmore, Isle of Skye. The ideal winter to be winning a cosy duvet. The majority of my beef interviews this month have been sidelined till next month due to the weather conditions and not being able to reach them. I opted to stay at home rather than risk life and limb on some of the minor ungritted roads across Scotland. It is still white out here with the farm road resembling a toboggan run! I did reach the Kennedy’s of

Overton farm in Ayrshire, who are enthusiastic Blonde breeders and the Straight Furrow, who I used to freelance for in New Zealand, kindly let me reprint a story on Highland cattle in the North Island, which will be of interest to many readers I reckon. A visit to the Edinburgh School of Food & Drink was an enjoyable jaunt at the beginning of December, where friend Jacqui Pattinson and I learnt three ways to cook venison. By sheer coincidence it is vension stroganoff, a recipe from the Highland Game cookbook, on our menu tonight. We have a freebie book to give away – Vension by Maxine Clark, printed by Highland Game. Either sign up for the newsletter on the website or send a postcard with your details to me at the address below left to be in with a chance to win. Wishing all readers all the best for 2010. Here’s hoping livestock prices remain high and that the arable sector bounces back.


Pigs The Clash


Sheep Shear Success




Milk League Light


Energy Wind


Rural Recreation Cooking Venison


Rural Retreat Tax Advice for Cottage Rentals

PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson Cover - Northton Matriach by Vega Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated Page 4/5- The Straight Furrow, NZ Page 8 - words and pic -L MacDonaldBrown Page 9 - words & pictures SAC Page 15 - Caitriana MacPherson


61 MAG 12/1/10 2:53 pm Page 4 Issue sixty-one • January 2010


Kiwi Highlanders Expat – Christiane Schmidt – who now farms Highland Cattle on 404ha near Whanganui in the North Island, New Zealand, may be a relative newcomer to the farming industry but she has brought an innovative approach to marketing her hairy product.


f anyone had told Christiane Schmidt three years ago that she would one day own a 404ha farm breeding 120 Highland cows, she would have laughed and never thought it possible. Chris immigrated to New Zealand from the United Kingdom three years ago with her four sons, Daniel (14), Andy (13), Richard (9) and David (7). “I had no previous experience of farming but had always dreamed of owning a bit of land,” said Chris. The family ended up purchasing an 8ha lifestyle block near Rotorua and after considering which livestock to buy, settled on Highland cattle. Chris said she was initially attracted to the breed’s looks and easygoing temperament. “But first and foremost I have a passion for breeding good animals. “Highland cattle are amongst the few cattle breeds which can be kept successfully on a small acreage.” It didn’t take long before the Highland cattle numbers increased on Chris’s lifestyle block and she began to look for a larger property. Chris also visited Scotland during this time to gain working experience on three big Highland folds. “I decided to visit the three biggest folds in Scotland – Killochries Fold, Craigowmill Fold and Woodneuk Farm – stay with each of them for a while, look at their animals, learn about their farming practices and maybe even source some new bloodlines for my own fold.” “I recognised that Highland cattle could have a promising future in New Zealand if marketed and promoted properly. Highland beef is premium beef. The Queen has her own Highland fold and eats exclusively Highland beef.”


On returning to New Zealand, Chris began an internet property search, finding a farm bordering the Whanganui National Park, just north of Wanganui.

country with the rest in native bush, was then running just 500 ewes and a few cattle, which were sold as stores. When Chris and her sons moved onto the farm, they brought their 18 breeding cows and two bulls with them from Rotorua. “I then purchased three complete Highland cattle studs from retiring breeders.” Chris, a trained GP working three days a week in a rural practice in Waverley, manages the day-to-day farm operation herself and has had to learn how to deal with many tasks.

from the beaten track and it is not always easy to get a vet or an AI technician when we want.” Chris’s stud, ‘Trossachs Kintyre,’ now runs 120 breeding cows, nine stud bulls and young stock. “They are very hardy cattle and can be farmed in areas where other beef breeds would not thrive and therefore only sheep could be grazed.” Chris has found cross-grazing Highland cattle with sheep has achieved higher stock units per hectare. She also keeps a separate black herd of 20 breeding cows

“From the moment I drove up the road, I fell in love with it,” said Chris. “The scenery was just magic.” On a clear day, sweeping views in all directions take in the Tararua Ranges to the south, the Tasman Sea northwards to Mount Taranaki and the native bush-covered hills of the Whanganui National Park. The property, a mixture of 60ha of easy country, 222ha of steep hill

Within the first year, she developed the property with new fences, installed water troughs in all paddocks instead of dams, and fertilised. Her four boys are also keen to help out. “My oldest son and I have completed an artificial insemination course and are therefore able to do all our own AI. This is much more convenient as our farm is far away

inseminated with semen straws from top quality American and Canadian Highland bulls. Cows are put in with the bulls on September 1 and calving is in June. “The Highland cow is an extremely economical animal as she can still calve at the age of 22, so per cow you get 18-20 calves. This number is achieved by no other beef breed,” she said.

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“Highland cattle have no problems calving in winter and when I wean the calves in January/February, I can put them on good pasture and have plenty of grass for them.” All cattle on the property are grass fed without need for additional grain supplements or intensive farming practices. The calves, including the commercial calves, are halter-trained at weaning time. “They never forget and it makes it so much easier to deliver a halter-trained calf. I just walk them onto my bull float,” says Chris who offers Lifestle farmers a unique Highland Cattle Starter pack. It includes: two heifer calves and a bull calf, individually hand-picked and halter-trained, a five page written contract, a buy-back guarantee for 3 years -of the progeny of the original starter pack, follow-up and mentoring service for the first 3 years, with the option to extend this service by mutual agreement, a business plan, tailor-made and a free phone help line 0800HIGHLANDS (0800 444 452), providing free advice and assistance to people interested in Highland cattle, as well as existing breeders. Other support services Chris provides include: a visiting female programme where “we service clients females by running them with one of our selected sires,” bull hire to selected clients and on-farm visits and farm stays for young people interested in Highland Cattle are encouraged and arranged. Each year Trossachs Highlands sponsors a group of young Highland enthusiasts to travel on a study trip to Australia. Chris believes in positively supporting the ‘Youth of the Industry’ in a very practical sense. “We are also at the forefront of Highland Genetic Development with a number of trials being progressed.” Focused and dedicated to promoting quality Highland Cattle to the market while raising the level of interest in Highland animals as a breed, Trossachs Highlands developed and introduced a Franchise concept for Highland Cattle.

FARM FACTS Farmers: Christiane Schmidt Farming: 404ha Location: Whanganui, NI, NZ Cattle:

120 Highland cows and followers 9 Highland Bulls


Christiane and her four sons: Daniel (14), Andy (13), Richard (9) and David (7)

“The underpinning principle, which dominates the Franchise operation, is based on establishing and presenting Highland Cattle for sale with a quality standard superior to anything else available on the market.” From the outset, the uptake of Franchise membership from existing Highland Breeders overwhelmed Chris. All Franchise Members are committed to ensuring they maintain the same quality standards and client service principles as those developed by Trossachs Highlands.

problems when mated to a Highland bull. The resulting calves are born at 22 - 25kg, are up and running straight away with no losses and they can go on the bobby truck within four days. “If they are fattened for meat, they grow fast and show better fleshing ability than pure dairy calves.” The R2 bulls destined for the dairy industry are dehorned on request. “But most dairy farmers opt for keeping the horns,” said Chris. Trossachs Kintyre also runs two polled Highland bulls. “This is a very new market. Only in New Zealand

quite similar to the Jerseys, and will let you milk her in the paddock.” “In New Zealand Highland Cattle are mainly perceived as a lifestyle breed, however, some forward thinking commercial beef farmers have started to recognise the Highland as a profitable beef breed,” commented Chris. “Highland cattle breeders need to collect statistics in order to convince beef farmers.” A performance recording programme is now in place and run by Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC).

Chris said Highland cattle are slow maturing but bulls with great scrotal circumferences usually sire faster maturing heifers. “Eventually I want all my heifers to cycle and get in-calf by the age of 15 months, so they have their first calf as two-year-olds. “Heifers should have reached 70 per cent of their adult size and weight when first mated,” she said. Chris selects the cows by a point system to match up with the right bulls. The points system also helps to decide if the cow will be retained as a stud animal, a brood cow or a cull cow. She aims to increase cattle numbers to 300 breeding cows. “At least 60 of those cows will be top quality stud cows, which will in addition be registered with the Scottish Highland Cattle Society.” Chris is currently the only breeder in New Zealand who is a member of the Scottish Highland Cattle Society. Calves are scored at weaning time and separated into commercial and stud calves. Only the top calves are registered in the herd book. “All other calves are sold unregistered to lifestyle block owners, who want to have some hairy, good looking pets, or enter the meat chain.” Chris is finding the rising two year old bulls are popular with dairy farmers. “The heifers don’t have any calving

and Australia are polled Highland cattle bred.” As a GP, Chris is obviously interested in the health of her cattle and points out that Highlands rarely require more than a routine dosing, keeping veterinary bills to a minimum. “Their long lashes and dossan shield their eyes from the sun and flying insects, so pink eye and eye cancers are rare. Due to their genetic purity they are also more resistant to other bovine diseases.” Chris has recently started to build up her own beef business. Steers are sent to the works, killed and inspected, then sent back to Chris’s butcher for hanging. The meat is vacuum-packed and sold in 10kg mixed packages. “The best time to kill a Highland steer is between 24-30 months, depending on growing conditions, when the meat has reached top succulence. “It is well marbled and has the lowest fat and cholesterol contents of all beef,” she said. The hides are sent to a private tannery in Morrinsville, processed and returned to Chris to sell at the shows she attends. “There is also a market for Highland skulls, horns and Highland milk has 9.6 per cent butter fat – ideal for cheese making,”said Chris. “The Highland cow is very docile,

Chris recently began writing an international Highland Cattle newspaper, the Horny MOO, as a forum for breeders to gain knowledge, share ideas and information and to learn about farming practices in different countries. She hopes this independent publication will help to unite breeders from all over the world and encourage them to work together. Her website is worth a visit –


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Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Blonde Promotes Blondes


FARM FACTS Farmers: Robbie & Sheena Kennedy Farming: Overton Farm 520 acres – owned Location: Coylton, Ayrshire Cattle:

120 cows 5 Blonde cows, 7 heifers buy in dairy calves


80 cross ewes


Robbie & Sheena and sons: Ross (16) and Sean (15)

Other Income:

holiday cottage, sale days at Ayr market a day at NWF


cottish Blonde Secretary and a member of the Publicity and Promotion sub committee – Sheena Kennedy – who farms with her husband and two sons in Ayrshire, hopes to raise the profile and marketing of British Blonde Cattle in Scotland as well as attaining a ‘clean club’ high health status. Batches of 40-60 Limousin or Belgian Blue first cross heifer calves out of dairy cows are bought in at Overton. “We isolate them as piece of mind and TB test as soon as they are old enough as they come from a four-year TB testing area,” explains Sheena. “The last lot were bought in North Yorkshire as there aren’t the same number of calves sold in Ayr as a lot of the dairy herds are putting their cows back to a black & white bull,” added husband Robbie. These calves are about a fortnight old when they arrive and are reared on Volac. The Kennedy’s aim to have them calving to by two and a half years old to Blonde bulls. “We sell half with calf at foot, when the calves are a couple of months old and keep the rest for the herd,” informed Robbie, who plans to increase the cattle numbers to 200 in the next year or so. Two and a half decades ago, when Robbie was farming with his father, they had a Blonde, a Simmental and a Charolais bull on farm. Needless to say the Blonde out shone the others with ease of calving, get up and go of offspring, cows coming into season quicker and reduced vet bills. There are now five pure Blonde cows at Overton and seven heifers along with son Sean’s (15) one cow and two pure heifers. They are slightly pampered being bedded in straw courts, while their contemporaries are all on slats. Cattle on this Coylton based hill farm are dosed for fluke and are given a shot against Blackleg. “There is a strip across certain fields where they are susceptible to Blackleg, with a greater risk at their first year at grass. We have lost 2 in 19 years,” he said. Crystalyx Easy Breather is used in the sheds and “works like tunes, keeping their airways clear and free from pneumonia and such like.” In the past Robbie used to work

off farm in the summer months driving 8 wheel tippers and Sheena kept the home fires burning and worked on farm. This past year has seen a slight role reversal due to health issues and Sheena is out and about working off farm three days a week. She can be spotted at Craig Wilson Ltd, Ayr Market on sale days on the administration and passport side and at NWF feed merchant for a half day, weighing lorries, answering phones or using her computing skills. Since recently purchasing a further 100 acres the policy has changed at Overton. All cattle were previously fattened and sold through Robbie’s brother John’s butcher shop. “He loved the depth of cut, high

Killing out percentages and cover of fat with no wastage. But as we have raised the numbers we now sell either suckled calves or store. Sheena and son Sean bought a couple of calves and showed at the Winter Fair for the first time, thoroughly enjoying the experience. It will be added to their other show dates this year, including the RHS and Ayr, where she is a committee member. “I’d love to show homebred fat stock in the future.” Other income at Overton is derived from the refurbished farm cottage, which is rented out through Welcome Cottages, with solid bookings from April to September. It is on a Friday-to-Friday basis so the

BRITISH BLONDE Tel: 024 7641 9058

Fax: 024 7641 9082

Why use a BLONDE Bull? ¢ Easy Calving ¢ Length and confirmation ¢ High Killing Out % ¢ Improved Grades ¢ Hardiness PERTH BULL SALES Wed 3rd February

CARLISLE Friday 5th March

Entries on our website

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ANIMAL HEALTH Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Urinary Calculi cleaning doesn’t hamper Sheena’s summer showing diary! Allowing pets has seen an increase in the number of bookings. A family arrived at the cottage, which has panoramic views from Ben Lomond to The Merrick as I was tobogganing down the drive in my truck. Sheena’s other passion is her horses. Funnily enough like a lot of other farmers I know, her sons and husband all rolled their eyes whenever the horses were mentioned!

Sheena was actually unloading at the Doncaster Bloodstock Sales when I first called her to discuss the Blonde Cattle Society. She sold a two-year old filly, Lucky Story, for 8000gns and a one-year old Thoroughbred colt Monsieur Bond for 6000gns so she can justifiably completely ignore all the eye rolling! In the past she has raced Rhinefield Beauty, whose daughter Rossie Dancer has taken £96000 in winnings.

Good Herd Health Management


n innovative Stirlingshire farm with plans to expand its beef herd will play host to an SAC Animal Health and Welfare day on 26th January. Moira Stewart and her son Nicol, who run West Plean Farm, Stirling, are confidently raising their suckler cow numbers from 50 to 80 this year. It is a herd that was recently accredited under the SAC Premium Cattle Health Scheme, which puts particular emphasis on controlling Johne’s disease and BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea). SAC economists calculate that losses from BVD in a 100 beef cow herd can exceed £45,000 over a ten year period. Moira and Nicol are determined to avoid these and happy to explain the positive benefits of joining the PCHS scheme. They will also discus the management issues and obstacles encountered during the health scheme testing process. Moira’s husband Tony Stewart is a retired vet and his previous experience with health schemes and disease control in suckler herds has been of great benefit to Nicol. Nicol returned home to run West Plean after time at agricultural college and on farms in the Borders and New Zealand. The unit is 172ha (425 acres) of productive land and 20ha

(50 acres) of woodlands. It is a mixed livestock, arable and grassland business, with winter wheat, spring barley, whole crop barley, whole crop lucerne and sweet lupins. These are fed to the cattle, something not often done in Scotland. While the cows are mainly Aberdeen Angus crossed with Limousin some newly introduced cattle have been crossed with the French Montbeliarde breed, which has even more milk to feed its calves and a quiet temperament. The herd is split 50:50 with half put to a Charolais bull and the other half mated with a Stabiliser bull to rear replacement breeding stock. Calves are normally born in February. The event is part funded by Scottish Government as part of its Animal Welfare Advisory Activity. Alongside Moira and Nicol will be experts in animal production and health from SAC with local veterinary practices also participating. It will start on the beef unit at West Plean Farm at 11.00 am and will then move to the King Robert Hotel for lunch and more detailed discussion. For further information and to confirm numbers please contact SAC Stirling office on 01786 450964.


reezing conditions have seen a rapid increase in the incidence of Urinary Calculi in both fattening and breeding sheep stock across the country. Also referred to as ‘water belly,’ ‘gravel’ or ‘sand’ this condition can be fatal to both castrated and entire male sheep. The disease occurs when calculi (stones), usually comprised of phosphate salts, lodge in the urinary tract and prevent urination. High grain, low roughage diets decrease the formation of saliva and therefore increase the amount of phosphorus excreted in the urine. Feeding diets which are excessive in phosphorus and magnesium and/or have an

imbalance of calcium and phosphorus are the main cause. Lack of water and water sources that are high in minerals are also contributing factors. Clinical signs usually start with restlessness and anxiety. Affected animals may experience abdominal pain, urine dribbling, distention and rupture of the urethra and edema under their belly. Treatment could be as simple as snipping off the worm to allow calculi at the end of the penis to dislodge. In more advanced cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to save valuable rams. Veterinary advice should be sought in this case.


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Mobile: 07970097519


61 MAG 12/1/10 2:53 pm Page 8 Issue sixty-one • January 2010


Clash on the Coast

by Linda MacDonald-Brown


t's not often I can say I would like to change places with a pig, but after visiting the Clash herd of Saddlebacks in Port Logan, I would definitely change places any day. Not only are they living in the most stunning location, with the Irish Sea only yards away on one side, and the wild Scottish countryside on the other, but if their glossy coats and contented grunts are anything to go by, they lead a pretty stress free life as well. Caron Stewart and her husband Robert are relatively new at keeping pigs, having started only a few years ago in 2005. Robert jokes they only ended up with Saddlebacks because he was given the choice by Caron, of either keeping spotty pigs or stripey pigs, and he chose stripey. In reality though, Saddlebacks were chosen because they are a hardy breed, therefore ideal for the windswept area around Port Logan, and they are renowned for their superb bacon and succulent pork. Despite being relatively new to the pig world, they have already made quite an impact. Caron has not only established herself as a Saddleback breeder of quality stock but her reputation as a traditional breed pork producer, has led her to be voted onto the British Pig Association Pork Committee earlier this month. Clash Farm currently has around 60 pigs on its 180 acres, made up of; 13 sows, 2 boars and 45 youngstock. Like any other pig breeder, costs have to be watched with an eagle eye. Caron and Robert reckon it costs approximately £5 a week to keep a pig. This covers food, bedding and incidentals; it doesn't however take into account the cost of labour,


abattoir and butchery costs, nor does it take into account fuel. Unfortunately for Clash Farm, its isolated situation means fuel costs each month can be quite substantial, especially as their nearest abattoir at Lockerbie is 90 miles away, a trip Robert carries out 2 or 3 times a month. Even further away, is the butcher, Askerton Castle in Cumbria, who carries out the processing. It costs £1 a kilo for the pig to be processed, but this does include vacuum packing, labelling and delivery back to the abattoir for Robert to lift. Feed is however the largest spend. They are currently going through three tonne a month at a cost of £280 a tonne including delivery. The sow and weaners nuts as well as the growers come from Hi-Peak. It has a high level of linseed added to it, which provides a natural source of Omega 3 and explains the shiny coats. This level of cost in finishing a pig means it is vital that the finished product for sale is realistically priced both for Clash Farm and the customer. Caron's aim therefore is to achieve a profit margin over variable costs of at least a £100 per pig. Both Robert and Caron strongly believe that many people resort to selling rare breed pork cheaply as it has not been finished off properly to achieve the correct ratio of fat to muscle. Caron's interest in conservation led her to initially choose a Saddleback line, whose numbers needed improving. The Spot line on the female side is one of the rarest lines in the breed and this was therefore an obvious line to start with. Two more female lines, the Grand Duchess and Rosette have since been added, as

have the Prefect and Grand Duke for the male side. Although primarily, Caron keeps most of the pigs to finish herself, she sometimes has weaners for sale, and

these start at £60 for an 8 week old destined for the freezer and £100 plus for breeding stock. All males, unless they are of exceptional quality and therefore suitable for breeding, are castrated by the local vet at a cost of £4 per piglet. All weaners whether for fattening or breeding are sold vaccinated against Parvo virus and Erysipelas and of course wormed. Vaccination was brought in, due to the many seagulls that abound in the area. As Erysipelas is a disease often caused by birds, it was felt prevention was better than cure and a vaccination programme was started. Caron's acceptance onto the BPA pork committee is an exciting opportunity for her. She has long felt that not enough is done to market pork in Scotland and instead there tends to be a bias towards beef and lamb. A lot more has to be done she reckons, to move people away from the bland dry and poor quality pork found in supermarkets and introduce them to the succulent meat of a traditional breed. As a director of Dumfries & Galloway Food Co-operative, Caron plans to share her knowledge of regional grant funding opportunities and assist in forging relationships with relevant bodies in Scotland to get pork out there amongst the Scottish people, an uphill struggle, but one that Caron is happy to take on Range of kids, Teflon coated, waterproof jackets and trousers and all-in-one suits. All can be washed and tumble dried. Phone PuddleJumpers on 01298 83812 for direct ordering or with any questions.

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Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Shear Success

by Ken Rundle SAC

he International Year of Natural Fibres has been one to remember for second year SAC student Andrew Houston. The farmer’s son from Glenkilrie, Glenshee, Perthshire, studying for an HND in Agriculture at Aberdeen, has not only won a plethora of awards for sheep shearing but he also lifted the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society Medal for the best Diploma

Student at the SAC Prize Giving. Andrew began sheep shearing at home – almost as a necessity on a hill place. However as he got more skilful he caught the competition bug. Andrew says it’s a skill he enjoys and one he can make money from. Earlier this year he won the Junior Class of the South of Scotland Shearing Competition at the Barony

College. He was placed second at the Highland Show which qualified him for the Royal Welsh Show. But before that he took in Lochearnhead, where he came second and also won the Colin Magregor Salver for the Best Pen in any of the finals. Andrew received a Hieniger Icon hand piece to mark his first class performance. The Royal Welsh was next on the circuit, where he represented

Scotland in the Worshipful Company of Woolmen Junior final. Despite never having shorn lambs before or anything from the Beulah breed he came third. Undaunted he returned north to the Black Isle Show – the last competition of the year. He was runner up, which was enough to win the Scottish Junior circuit for 2009 and yet another hand piece. “It’s nice to be recognised for something” says Andrew. His tutor, Dr. Collette Coll is equally delighted. “It’s great to see such a young student doing so well academically and practically. He is a great role model for other students.” Andrew plans to complete his studies at SAC next year. In August he wants to begin travelling, first to New Zealand for a year to get more experience in the shearing sheds. His dream is to compete in the Golden Shears event.


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Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Five in a Row for Annandale by Jack Lawson


he Annandale Holstein Herd from Milton at Beattock run by Matthew and William Armour has topped the Scottish league table for production for the fifth year in succession. Their 138 cows averaged 12334Kg milk with a combined fat and protein output of 893kg in 305 days. Second and third place was a carbon copy from 2008 with M/S R & M Harvey, Nether Keir at Auldgirth with 86 cows averaging 11478kg milk and 840kg combined fat and protein then Stuart G Mair & Sons, Kinnermit, Turriff with 257 cows averaging 11821kg milk and 818kg fat and protein. In the Ayrshire/Red and White league table M/S Howie of Muirside Farms at Dumfries held on to their 2008 title with an increased yield with their 94 cows averaging 9772kg


milk and 754kg fat and protein. William and Andrew Watson, Muir, Mauchline, third last year moved up to second position with an extra 14kg fat and protein and Ardyne Farms at Dunoon came in third spot. The Jersey section has the same top three intact with Robert Hunter, West Tarbrax Farm, Shotts in the lead with a yield of 6810kg milk and 634kg closely followed by Alderston Farming, Alderston Mains, Haddington with 6205 kg milk and 587kg and third position C M A Haigh, Airyhemming, Glenluce with 5481kg and 563kg. For individual cow yields the Holstein Friesians were led by Cogent Titanic Hannah EX with an outstanding yield of 17071kg milk and 1327kg. She is in 305 days in her second lactation from KSH Farmers, Kennetsideheads, Kelso. The Howies at Muirside had a

clean sweep of the top five Ayrshires /Red and Whites leading with Howie's Angel 4th, in her third lactation, who gave 14216kg milk and 1085kg fat and protein. The leader in the Jersey breed was the top cow last year from Robert Hunter now having completed her 4th lactation with 11046kg milk and 1028kg fat and protein. Heifer 305 day yields were led by Achavilly Delta Rhona with 11496kg milk and 1057kg fat and protein from Noel McCarragher, Ferny Cleugh, Lochmaben. The Ayrshire/Red and Whites by Muirside with Howie's Miss Barbour 2 with 10158kg milk and 837kg fat and protein. The top Jersey heifer came from the Hasties with Alderston Maca Mallow who gave 7564kg milk and 703kg. Commenting on the 2009 results for Scotland Jack Lawson on behalf of the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association

[SDCA] and the Cattle Information Service [CIS] said “This is not a competition but it does demonstrate that Scotland with the largest herd size in Europe has outstanding production cows with super management and well selected genetics. Overall yields are not the highest on record, which can be accounted for by weather and fodder quality over the 2008 - 2009 period but the results do demonstrate that we have good stockmanship, excellent animal welfare and are not afraid to use modern technology to the benefit of dairy cows and the industry in general. “I only hope that milk buyers, supermarkets and the general public recognise the effort, dedication and expertise involved in producing milk and reward our dairy farmers fairly.”

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farmingscotland Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Trip the Light Fantastic Increasing the number of light hours to 14 - 16 hours per day has a positive effect on dairy cow production.


ilk production can be increased by 6-10% by managing dairy cows’ exposure to light duing the winter months. Many University trials both here and abroad have proved that switching from eight hours of light and 16 hours of dark to 16 hours of light and eight hours of dark can dramatically increase produciton. Higher milk production can only be acheived when light intensity is at least 150 – 200 lux (15-20 footcandle), apparently less than the light intensity for a well light office. Cees-jan van den Dool of Agrilight in the Netherlands says that high pressure sodium, metal halide flourescent lights are the way to go. “It is important to have a uniform distribution of light in the barn and

that the distance from the fixture to the floor is not too high. A good reflector is important for uniform distribution.” A common mistake is to place lights only above the feed passage and not evenly throughout the entire cubicle building. A cow typically is at the feed barrier 3-4 hours per day and resting in a cubicle 12-16+ hours per day. If the lighting is inadequate in the cubicle, where the cow spends most of her time, she will not be exposed to the required photoperiod. In Scotland and the rest of the UK, Cowcare Systems, based in County Antrim, Ireland sell the Agrilight Dairy Unit Lightling system as part of their livestock housing systems portfolio. They explain that “photosensitive

cells in the eye detect light and directly signal the to the hypothalamus, and from there to the pineal gland. The penerial gland produces melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and photoperiodic (seasonal) functions. Low light levels stimulate the secretion of melatonin. “Increased light exposure both in duration and intensity reduces the

production of melatonin. In lactating cows, an decreased level of melatonin results in: • An increase in appetite • The cows are more active and fertile for longer periods when exposed to longer days; • Cattle with fertile periods that return faster, can lead to shortened periods between calving;

“Let there be light!”

Increase milk production by 6-10% with an Agrilight Dairy Unit Lighting system Also improves fertility and is energy efficient More information from:

Cowcare Systems –

07770 688685 11

61 MAG 12/1/10 2:53 pm Page 12



Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Oman Dominates


Whittaker’s World


reeding company Cogent has appointed a new member to its sales and marketing team, who will be closely involved in the company's public presence at shows, workshops and other agricultural events. Izzy Whittaker's move to Cogent is a natural progression from her early life with her family's Knowlesmere herd of Holsteins, with which she has been involved since she could first walk well enough to bring in the cows. Beginning showing calves at the age of four, she steadily progressed to become this year's National Champion Showman at the All Britain Calf Show aged 22. Also winning the senior section of the National Stockjudging Competition (including giving the best reasons), Izzy was keen to continue to work within the industry she describes as 'the biggest interest in my life'. Having also recently added a first class honours degree in Business Studies (majoring in marketing) to her list of credits, she has the ideal background and credentials to join the marketing arm of the cattle breeding company. A year spent working for General

Motors' marketing department broadened her outlook further and allowed her to develop a cross-section of experience, which she looks forward to applying to the farming industry. “I wanted to join Cogent because I was really impressed with the company's marketing,” says Izzy. “They just seemed to have fresh, clear and concise messages with innovative campaigns and I am thrilled by the prospect of being involved in a company with such a bright and promising future.” With her first tasks involving the recently completed round of Sexed Semen Roadshows and the acclaimed Dairy Works seminars, she looks forward to working on more of the company's campaigns and events. “We are delighted to have someone with Izzy's mix of marketing and farming experience on board,” said Hugh Pocock, sales and genetics manager with Cogent. “Her fresh and vibrant approach will undoubtedly be an asset to the company and I have no doubt will feed through to our campaigns and events, for the ultimate benefit of our customers.”

Feed Conversion


o you know how much your cows are eating? Calculate your feed conversion efficiency now for better returns throughout the winter DairyCo has found that farmers who know their feed conversion efficiency (FCE) are well placed to get maximum efficiency from their feed, nutritionally and financially. Keeping track of dry matter intake is essential for calculating the FCE figure. Calculating the FCE is as simple as dividing daily milk yield by daily dry matter intake. The result shows how well the animal is utilising one kilo of feed, so that farmers can see where improvements can be made. Data from Keenan illustrates that as feed efficiency increases, costs per litre decrease (see attached table).


Adam Clay, DairyCo extension officer says: “I believe many farmers can benefit from calculating feed efficiency. Taking one figure here or there may not be of much use, however regularly monitoring feed efficiency throughout lactation can show important trends and quickly flag up any problems before they result in serious underfeeding or poor feed use. “Improvements can be made anywhere from providing more feeding space, or by providing a better formulated diet, improving digestibility,” he concludes. Farmers can learn more about feeding efficiency by requesting the feeding+ manual from DairyCo publications on 024 7647 8695.

his week's Holstein bull proof run from DairyCo breeding+ (published Tuesday 12 January) may look like more of the same with a continued dominance by Oman and his sons. But beneath the surface, there are some new bulls quietly emerging; two brand new Calving Ease indexes adding important independent management information; and a significant reduction in all figures brought about by the five-yearly base change, which takes place this month. So, Oman himself (O-Bee Manfred Justice) retains his remarkable stronghold on the number one position when ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI), in real terms improving his performance as more UK daughters (now 795) contribute to his proof. His PLI of £257, although in actual terms lower than last August's figure, reflects continued improvement in his daughters' exceptional performance for production, health and fitness traits. Oman's new direct Calving Ease index (dCE%) further strengthens his status, which at +3.4 is one of the best in the top 10. “This confirms him an easy calving sire and means that 3.4 percent more than average of the calvings by Oman are easy,” explains geneticist Marco Winters, director of DairyCo breeding+. “The new Calving Ease indexes are expressed as a 'percent easy calvings' on a scale of around -4 to +4 around a breed average of zero. Positive figures indicate that calvings are predicted to be easier than average and negative figures predict more difficult calvings.” Alongside dCE% (predicting the ease with which a calf by that sire will be born), a second, maternal Calving Ease (mCE%) figure will also be published, indicating the ease with which a daughter of that sire is expected to give birth. Oman scores well here too, with a better-thanaverage mCE% of +0.5. “Of course, dCE% will be of most interest, particularly when breeding heifers,” says Mr Winters. “But both indexes should be considered, as long-term selection for dCE% without any regard to mCE% could set up problems for the future.” There's no change in the bulls ranked immediately beneath Oman, with his son, Man-O-Man, retaining his second position with the best overall production potential (kg fat plus protein) of available bulls and the best mCE% of the top 10. Morningview Legend holds firm in third place, with good all-round

production, health and fitness, while Via Thelo makes his debut in the top 10, thanks to a strong performance in longevity and daughter Fertility Index. However, the announcement of his untimely death late last year, may restrict his impact on the UK population. The first and only bull, which is not an Oman bloodline to contribute to the top 10 comes in the form of well-know second crop sire, Braedale Goldwyn. Now with approaching 2,000 UK daughters contributing to his proof, he has the highest type score of the leading PLI bulls. Full brothers Otto and Eight rank sixth and eighth (probably a first to have two full brothers in the top 10), with Otto gaining ground thanks to an improvement in his Lifespan to +0.3, despite the observed base change for this trait. Also ranking equal sixth is Co-op Oman Lloyd, improving his ranking and now the highest milk bull in the top 10. High component bull, Timmer Tyson remains in 9th place, and adds a +3.5 score for dCE%, making him the easiest calving sire in the top 10. Best daughter fertility bull in the top 10 is Bogard with a Fertility Index of +5.9. The highest new UK-proven bulls are Woodmarsh Talisman (a Talent son from the well-know Mtoto Melody family) and Cogent Loaded (a son of Titanic from Tugolo Looking, also the dam of the proven Cogent Loader). Talisman has a good all round proof with the right emphasis on all of the fitness traits, particularly Fertility Index at 4.2. His PLI is £148; Type Merit is 2.1. Loaded similarly scores well for fitness traits; has a TM of 1.9 and an overall PLI of £119. Commenting on the unprecedented domination of the proof run by sons of Oman, Mr Winters says: “I am not unduly worried by this as these bulls tend to have the production, health and fitness qualities required by profit-driven and welfare-conscious dairy farmers. “The UK has a further advantage as neither Oman's sire (Manfred) nor maternal grandsire (Elton) were much used in this country, giving us plenty of scope to use these bloodlines without a major risk of inbreeding. “Of course, dairy farmers will have to keep an eye on the narrowing of bloodlines as time passes, but as sons from other sires – such a Shottle, Goldwyn, Ramos, and Laudan – start to come on stream, there should be plenty of scope in the years ahead to retain genetic variation.”

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ENERGY Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Wind - Case Study Middlepart Farm, Ayrshire BACKGROUND Middlepart Farm, in Ayrshire, is a busy working livery yard and stud with all the consequent electricity requirements for lighting and equipment such as a horse walker. The site also includes the main farm house and a self catering cottage with an electrical central heating system. Mr. Bronte-Stewart, the owner of Middlepart Farm, wanted to reduce his energy bills by generating electricity from a renewable source. After substantial research into the various options available, the Gaia-Wind 133-11kWturbine was finally selected from a shortlist, the

power curve and performance in moderate winds being the deciding factors. SITE CONDITIONS The turbine is sited in open fields about 70m NNE of the main farm buildings on a gentle SE slope. Apart from the farm buildings themselves there is little to obstruct wind flow in the turbine vicinity. The NOABL wind speed database indicates this postcode has good moderate winds. The estimated annual average wind speed at the turbine mast height of 18m is 6.6 m/s. TURBINE PERFORMANCE The turbine produced an impressive 56.5 MWh(56,500 units) of ‘green’ electricity during its first 18 months of operation, averaging just over 100 kWh/day and offsetting circa 21 tonnes of CO2 production annually. About half of the electricity generated is used onsite resulting in a dramatic reduction in electricity bills and the remainder is sold to the grid. Mr. Bronte Stewart also benefits from an income through the government carbon credit scheme (ROCs). “....production figures are consistent with your predictions but far exceed the estimates of the local energy consultants who are amazed by its overall production. Visitors are impressed that it is so quiet and that it is productive even in reasonably light winds....” Mr. Bronte-Stewart, Owner, Middlepart Farm


61 MAG 12/1/10 2:53 pm Page 14 Issue sixty-one • January 2010


Cookery School


n invite to the Edinburgh School of Food & Drink was a welcome pre-Christmas outing. For me it was a trip down memory lane as the cookery school was right next door to the farm where I spent my practical year as a student, working as a tractor driver. As we passed I spied a tractor ploughing in the same field that I ploughed my first furrow, albeit on a Ford 6600 with a two furrow reversible plough! No time for reminiscing, Jacqui and I were running close to our 10am cookery class and we still had to locate the building. Situated in the stable block of Newliston House, Kirkliston, nestled on the edge of woodland, the Edinburgh School of Food & Drink is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the motorway and Newbridge Roundabout we exited only minutes beforehand.


We met Lizzie, one of the School lecturers in the car park. She explained that as well as offering one day courses, food and wine evenings, hen parties and Glenmorangie sponsored classes for men, the School offers longer courses for a maximum of 16 students at a time, in 4 week blocks. Other student chefs obtain a Diploma over a six-month period. “One student now works for Gordon Ramsay and another in Claridges, others have opened up their own restaurants, many on the 4 week course head for the ski slopes and cook in the chalets.” said Lizzie. Venison from Highland Game was on the menu, with three very different dishes to tackle. Ian Pirie was our tutor. Jacqui followed his lead, while I took notes, photos and of course tasted everything! Cooking a perfect pave of venison accompanied with a Hassleback

potato, griddled parsnip and melting onions in a whisky sauce (pictured left) was Jacqui’s first task. The Hassleback potato, invented by the Hasslebacken Restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden is a modern twist on traditional roast potatoes. Perfectly rectangular parsnips griddled rather than roasted looked cutting edge. The meat was seared on an extremely hot pan before being roasted for 8 minutes. The finished product looked amazing and tasted divine, with melt in the mouth venison, vegetables and a whisky and juniper berry sauce to die for. A bizarre marinade of Balsamic vinegar olive oil and chocolate was prepared while slices of fillet were rolled into painfully thin slices. The two were married and chilled for an hour. In the mean time a venison stir fry with seasonal vegetables was whipped up and served for lunch. Although a self-confessed chocoholic, I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to sampling the raw meat chocolate surprise lurking in the fridge – certainly not something I would have chosen from a menu. My fears dissolved as the concoction was rather pleasing to the palette, but a starter size helping would be plenty. Jacqui and I really enjoyed our outing and are keen to return to a Chocolate Master Class at some point in the near future. We found little tips very helpful – even holding a knife correctly. Changing the wrist

action and sliding the knife back and forward rather than up and down has made a huge difference to my vegetable chopping technique. Apparently Chris Barron’s chef knife skills on You Tube are well worth watching! Another gem of information gleaned is that many chef reckon that olive oil spoils flavour and they use sunflower or rapeseed oil instead. All the recipes can be found in the cookery book – Venison, by Maxine Clark, published by Highland Game.

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RURAL RETREAT Issue sixty-one • January 2010

Act now to save Tax!


he current tax rules for qualifying Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL) are very favourable. From 5 April 2010 these rules will be abolished and for many property owners now is the time to act. So what are the tax changes from 6 April 2010? Income Tax changes o Losses incurred will only be set against other rental income rather than all income. o Profits will no longer be treated as earnings for pension contribution purposes. o Stricter rules will apply where profit sharing does not tie up with ownership of the property. This is most relevant to married couples. o Capital allowance claims will be replaced by the wear and tear allowance on furniture and furnishings. Planning points 1) For those planning repairs to a FHL it may be beneficial to get these done before 6 April 2010. The repairs could create a tax loss, which will reduce a tax liability or generate a repayment. Any loss can be set off

against other taxable income arising in the same tax year, or the previous year. Losses arising in tax years 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 may also be carried back to the previous three years (with a limit of £50,000 on losses arising in each year). 2) Capital Allowances will no longer be available from 6th April 2010. Capital Allowances are tax allowances on certain types of capital expenditure. These are items such as washing machines, kitchen equipment, bathroom and sanitary wear, central heating, furniture, furnishings and insulation, which will qualify for either Plant & Machinery allowances or Integral Features allowances. The first £50,000 of expenditure each year qualifying for Capital Allowances obtains the “Annual Investment Allowance” and a 100% tax write off. 3) Currently the FHL profits or losses do not necessarily have to follow the ownership of the property. This can have tax benefits. Profits can be taxed at lower rates when co-owners or spouses suffer tax at differing rates.

From 6 April 2010 a FHL will be taxed as rental income, which will follow ownership. For some property owners a transfer of ownership between spouses may be beneficial where one spouse is a higher rate tax payer, or one has no other taxable income and personal allowances are unused. Capital Gains Tax The main changes from 6 April 2010: o Holdover relief will no longer be available on a gift of the property. Currently a FHL can be gifted and any Capital Gain “held over”. o Rollover Relief will no longer be available for FHL. There is a list of qualifying assets that benefit from Rollover Relief. This list contains property and land used in a trading business, and until now FHL were included. The tax advantage is that a gain realised on sale of a qualifying asset could be “rolled into” the purchase of another qualifying asset within a time limit. For example provided all the rules were met business premises could be sold and the gain rolled over in the purchase of

a FHL. Alternatively up until 5 T4 April 2010 a FHL could be sold T4 and the gain rolled over into another FHL or qualifying business asset. o Gains realised on FHL sale will no longer qualify for Entrepreneurs' Relief and the effective 10% tax rate it brings. After 5 April 2010 the Capital Gains Tax rate on FHL will be the flat rate of 18%. Planning Points Properties which have been owned for a long period may be sitting with a large potential Capital Gain should the house ever be sold or gifted. If the intention is to gift a property to an adult family member then consider gifting pre 6th April 2010. Up until then a holdover claim can be made by the donor and the recipient. This effectively defers any Capital Gain Tax liability that would ordinarily occur. The recipient of the gift adopts the original tax cost of the donor. From 6th April 2010 this valuable relief will be lost to FHL and Capital Gains Tax will be payable without relief. In some circumstances a gift can allow a tax free sale of a Holiday Home. Consider this example: Andy has a flat in Edinburgh that has been let out as a furnished holiday accommodation for many years. The flat now stands at a substantial capital gain. He gifts the flat to his adult daughter Ellie and both elect to holdover the capital gain. Ellie can elect for the property to be regarded as her main residence for Capital Gains Purposes. The election for the Edinburgh flat to be her main residence does not need to last long, which would be relevant where Ellie owns another property. The Edinburgh flat could be sold at any time within the three years of the gift and be exempt from Capital Gains Tax. For further information on any of the above contact Andrew Ritchie, Campbell Dallas on 01738 441888 or


61 MAG 12/1/10 2:53 pm Page 16

RAPID EARLY GROWTH, THANKS TO CALF-VANTAGE MIX WITH FERMENTEN The results will surprise you. By feeding the rumen's natural bacteria, FermentenTM increases microbial protein production by 12-15% so improving dry matter intake and frame size.

o 20% bigger framed o Calve 60 days earlier Reap the rewards – improve farm profits by calving heifers younger. Invest in your calves with Calf-Vantage Mix with FermentenTM, and it won't just be the calves that will be growing.


For further information contact: Archie Leitch 07970 026153 BIGGER–BETTER–FASTER

Issue 61  

Monthly farming title

Issue 61  

Monthly farming title