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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three â€˘ March 2010
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Tractor & Farm Insurance
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
Issue sixty-three • March 2010
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 SGRID offices from the Borders to the Butt of Lewis, from Stranraer to the Shetland Isles and Clitheroe to Cumbria. EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 3TE Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 07877897867 firstname.lastname@example.org www.farmingscotland.com
he Pack Report is all the talk at the moment – at meetings across the country, in marts and rural outlets. Having interviewed Mr Pack only months before his retirement he was adamant that subsidies should return to a production basis. Personally I feel that this is the way it should go, possibly using 2009 as a base year. Anyone who milked the system by drastically reducing numbers or such like should be penalised this time round and those just picking up a payment without doing a twist, or worse still living in another country should be stroked off altogether. For me new entrants should be a priority. Is dairying in the UK set to change? A super-dairy that would be four times bigger than any other in the UK could trigger a massive cash windfall for local firms, reports our Lincoln based correspondant. ‘Newly-submitted planning documents have revealed that the proposed 19-acre dairy on land on Nocton Heath, south of Lincoln, could see local businesses earn millions supplying the site with feed and other materials. Developer Nocton Dairies says it is hoping to revive the entire national dairy farming industry with the massive site. It would come close to doubling the
number of cows on dairy farms in the county with eight open-sided buildings to house the animals. The site would also have an annual turnover of around £30m, while the construction of the site would create a significant number of jobs.’ The annual Blackface female show and sale at Lanark at the weekend saw record prices, with 36 selling to an average of £974.17. See the report on page 10. The NZ Golden Shears celebrates its 50th anniversary this week and the only surviving finalist from the first Golden Shears in 1961 – Ian Harrison – is shearing in the veteran class. I shore in his shearing shed in Southland back in 1992 and he was delighted to have a female shearer grace the boards! Winners of the February prize draws are: Scotch Beef Club £100 voucher for a meal for two at any of the 285 restaurants – Colin McGregor, Coldstream Mains, Coldstream, Berwickshire TD12 4ES and Raymond G. Ross, 174 Muie,Rogart,Sutherland,Scotland IV28 3UB. Meal for 2 at Sorn Inn, Ayrshire, Mrs Sheena Kennedy, Overton Farm, By Ayr, Ayrshire, KA6 6HE. Congratulations to you all – enjoy. There is no prize draw this month – but a weekend break at Castle Venlaw, Peebles is up for grabs in the April issue.
13 14 15
Contractors Drew Watson
PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson Cover - Out wintered cattle, Lochgilphead Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated Page 8 –
Melissa & Tiffany Mctaggart
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Nuffield & SAC
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Issue sixty-three • March 2010
temperament. With the easy calvings I am getting ten calves out of most cows.” Bruce buys his bulls (and heifers) as young as possible, usually about a year old, and lets them become acclimatised to the 90” of rain (recorded last year), fluke and tick for a year before using them. “The first year they are only given 10 cows to see how they go.” This approach aids longevity and Bruce is still working them at 10 years old. “I haven’t had to pare feet in 15 years – getting them young ensures they are not forced.” The bulls are wintered outside in a six acre wooded plot. A 2kg mix of barley, beet pulp and dark grains sourced from Harbro is fed along with silage. The suckler herd are wintered outside on a corral system in small wooded areas. Hard core roading
Herefords,Highlanders & Blondes FARM FACTS Farmers: Bruce & Heather Dixon trading as Laggan Farms Farming: Killinochonoch, 1300acres owned (300 acres in bye, 1000 acres hill) Location: Lochgilphead, Argyll Cattle:
130 cows mainly Highand x Shorthorn, using Blonde and Hereford bulls
25 Hampshire Down ewes a few Texels winters 350 BF hoggs 40 BF ewes finishes 150 lambs
Labour: Bruce Dixon & son Feeding: Harbro Contracting: mainly silage work Positions: Argyll Blackface Breeders CM & on BF council
ith debate and chat about The Pack Report, presently not far from every farmer’s lips, Bruce Dixon, who farms 1300 acres just north of Lochgilphead, feels that the Single Farm Payment should be rebased on 2009. “We have spent the past ten years trying to change our businesses to accommodate the SFP, so why change the system now? “With a stocking rate of 0.12, there is no way a lot of places will reach that stocking density and it is these farms and estates, on the West and in the North, that really need the money. The Single Farm Payment is probably keeping families in jobs in these areas,” commented Bruce, who is speaking from experience. Until recently, Bruce and his wife Heather operated in partnership with Bruce’s sister Sheila. Bruce employed Sheena’s husband and a shepherd full time, but when the farm was split he could not afford to keep on any men. His brother Robert, who previously farmed with them both, still operates out of the family home at Kilbride, a couple of miles away. At that time the property, as a whole, carried 1900 Blackface ewes and 170 suckler cows.
Following their father’s retirement and Robert going out on his own, in 2000, numbers were reduced to 700 ewes and 170 cows. More recently, when Sheila wanted out, the whole farming business at Killnochonoch had to be reassessed. The sheep were taken off the hill and cattle numbers reduced by forty. With no sheep on the hill, the hardy Highland cross Shorthorn cows, tallying 100 head, which are the backbone of Bruce’s ‘new’ venture can be put out earlier – at the beginning of April – and come in later – mid December. “They come back in mid May and are bulled on the low ground. Fifty head are summered on Lurg, Fintry from June till September.” For the past 15 years Bruce has been using British Blonde bulls over his cattle. Bruce has found that all his cows are coming back to the bull quickly and out of 81 scanned on November 1st; there were no yield cows. “Using the Blonde I’m also experiencing easy calving and only assisted with two calvings last year. Another reason I go for Blondes is that I can buy a better bull for less money and they have a wonderful
forms the base around the eating areas, where the cattle are fed silage. The trees offer shelter from the wild, wet, unforgiving West coast weather. He has found that the cows are wintering much better now on lower ground than they previously did up the hill. Fluke is a major problem and Closamectin pour on is administered at scanning and they are also jagged with Trodax when they come off the hill in mid December and going to the bull mid May. All cows and calves ate treated with Spot-on at the beginning of April and again mid May. The Dixons test for BVD, as do 5 other large beef farmers in the area. “There is a push round here by the local vets and SAC to get everyone testing as it is a BVD clear area, as there is not such a dairy influence.” Bruce buys in 5-6 healthy heifer calf replacements locally at the November breeding sale at the Caledonian market in Oban. This year Bruce weaned the Blonde bred calves earlier and instead of putting them out on the hill he housed them. As the Highland cross is late maturing he sells them as forward stores around 11 months and
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BRITISH BLONDE Tel: 024 7641 9058
Fax: 024 7641 9082
Why use a BLONDE Bull? noticed a marked difference with weights up 20kg this year to 340kgs. “Last year 100 calves averaged £600, sold privately down South. They are weighed on farm before they head south and it is that weight that I am paid on.” The other 30 head of cattle are Salers, which Bruce has been mating with Simmental sires. The first Saler bull he had was really quiet, but the second was flighty, so Bruce is now using a Hereford bull over the cross Highland cows and intends to eventually replace all the Salers with Highland cross Herefords. “I’ve gone for the Hereford, purely as it is docile and I get home bred native heifers. He purchased the Hereford bull with Australian genetics, pictured below, from Mrs Ellis, Bores Farm, Worthington,Wigan, at the Royal Highland Show in 2008 for £3900. Bruce has a theory that he will obtain a higher percentage of females with his cows that have produced two bull calves in the past two years to the Simmental if he now puts them to the Hereford bull! Pre-press the first two have calved with heifer calves! The bulk of the cross Highlanders calve in March, while the Salers give birth in June. All calving cows are brought in a week before their due date and housed in cattle courts, then calving pens, then individual pens before being turfed out as soon as possible, heading for the hills. Since taking the sheep off, Bruce spends his summers with bums on seats contracting round the area. Son Alastair (17), who is still at school,
¢ Easy Calving ¢ Length and confirmation ¢ High Killing Out % ¢ Improved Grades ¢ Hardiness Carlisle Sales Friday 5th March Saturday 8th May Friday 11th June
Moira Sale, Northern Ireland Friday 9th April (evening) Worcester Sale Saturday 24th April
Entries on our website www.britishblondesociety.co.uk helps out on farm and with the contracting buisiness. He is planning to attend an agri-engineering course at the Barony College this September and has already had an offer of a four year apprenticeship. The Dixons of Kilbride are renowned in Blackface sheep circles, having pioneered AI in the Blackie breed and selling tups to a top of £28 000. Still a sheep man at heart, Bruce ‘dabbles’ and is chair of the Argyll Blackie Breeders branch and on council. He introduced Hampshire Downs as his daughter Karen (14) was keen and his idea initially was to use them as chasers for the Blackface flock. “They are small at birth but very vigorous.” Wintering 300 hoggs, fattening 150 lambs and caring for 40 BF ewes are other sources of income and keep him interested.
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Issue sixty-three • March 2010
Luing Heifers on Fire at CD
he Luing limelight was glowing with brilliant luminosity on the McNees of Woodend, Armadale, West Lothian at the recent Premier sale in Castle Douglas. Their position of first in the ring certainly did not hamper bidding as the ten Benhar in-calf heifers averaged
£2373, with three selling to 2500gns. Lots 2 and 3, Benhar Tulip J33 and Benhar Pansy J50, both sired by Luing Eclipse, sold as a pair to Paddy Crear, New Mains, Dunbar, for 2500gns, while Benhar Beauty, another Eclipse daughter headed south of the Border to D Stanners, Home Farm, Knowsley
Park, Prescot, making up the trio. Past Chairman, Neil McCorkindale, Ardencaple Farm, Scammadale, by Oban, who was splashing the cash, buying 16 heifers in total, purchased Benhar Poppy J42 for 2400gns. “I have total confidence in the Luing breed and have confidence in the beef industry,” commented Neil. The champion pair, from the same sire made 2200gns, returned close to home to Messrs Calglen, Bridgegate, Balmuir, Bathgate. Like a gripping novel, with a fantastic opening and a tremendous end, the McNees ended the day on a high, with the second last consignment of the sale through the ring – bull Benhar Kansas – being knocked down to Ted Fox of Eldsonburn, Kirknewton, Wooler, for 13000 gns. “The second youngest bull in the sale, weighing in at 840kg and measuring 56” at the shoulder with a
good scrotal circumference of 42cm, this June 2008-born son of Dirnanean Geldof holder and out of a home-bred Luing Soldier sired dam came from a very strong line up of Benhar bulls,” reported Johnny Mackey, breed secretary. Benhar Kyle, who was used in house as a youngster, sold to Steven Murray, Rockcliffe, for 6000gns, while Benhar Kite flew to new breeder Tom Wilson of Brampton, Cumbria at 5,000gns. The McNee family spent some of their booty securing College Kracker for 6,500gns from Ted Fox. Dougie Helm of Haltree, Stow, Galashiels, who is building up a Luing herd, now numbering 30, bid 6000gns for Harehead Kojak, out of Professor Penny’s stable in the Lammermuirs. Dougie initially sourced ten cows from Mr MacGregor on the Isle of Kerrera. Other notable bull transactions included; Harehead Kirk sold to D&A Barr of Milkieston, Peebles for 5,000gns and Luss Estates paid the same for Welbeck Kracker from Welbeck Scottish Farms, Caithness. Selling at Castle Douglas for the first time, the Grahams of Craigdarroch, Sanquhar came top of the pops with a pair of red bulling heifers, out of Clunie Figo. Runners up in the annual Bank of Scotland sponsored heifer competition, judged by Messrs Cosgrave of Castle Luings, Co. Meath, they made 3000gns a piece – purchased by Messrs Burke of Stewarton Farm, Peebles. The Grahams had the highest average of the sale – £2,572 for 4 heifers. The Luing natives from the Cadzow Brothers numbered 27 in total and averaged just under £2000. Four hit the 2200gns mark, while a pen of three headed back up to Argyll with Neil McCorkindale. Keen bidding from the packed ringside kept Wallets Markets auctioneer – Robin Anderson – on his toes, but helped him to rattle through the sale catalogue in record time.
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
by Rhidian Jones, SAC Turnout dates Of the farmers present two were aiming to turn cattle out by mid March, three others before the end of March, another four before mid April with the remaining ten later than mid April. Turnout was defined as turning out young cattle with no concentrate feeding and not bringing them in again. There was general agreement that earlier turnout should be aimed for as long as conditions were favourable. Benefits include excellent liveweight gains, cost savings over keeping them housed, reduced silage requirements and the opportunity to keep on top of grass in spring resulting in better grass quality and production for the rest of the season. Turnout method One area of discussion centred on the provision of a wedge of grass (i.e. fields at different stage of growth) so that turnout can be staged. The other option is to ensure that there is plenty of grass to turn all cattle out and leave them out. In a rotational grazing system a wedge is created and Doug reported that last year he had no difficulty in creating this wedge by turning out groups at different times, using a silage field as a buffer and due to different grass growth rates in various fields. Grazing silage fields first is an option to ensure plentiful grass. Any reduction in silage yield is compensated by reduced silage requirements (due to shorter winter) and better quality silage after early grazing. Grass growth Some discussion was held on current grass cover. Whilst there was insufficient grass available to turn cattle out some fields were greening up and were estimated at around 800-900 kg DM/ha. Based on last year's records we can expect 10kgDM/ha/day in March and 20kgDM/ha/day in April on average. Thus by the end of March we hope to see covers of around 1200 - 1300 kg DM/ha and 1500 + by turnout in mid April.
Dead grass Some fields would benefit from harrowing to remove dead grass and allow more light to penetrate the base of the sward. This would represent a cost though which we are trying to minimise. However we may harrow half of one field this spring to determine any benefits. Another approach (to prevent dead grass being present in the first place) would be to condition swards by grazing hard with dry ewes post weaning in late summer. Following a tight grazing to around 600kgDM/ha in August the fields are then rested for around 50 days to build up grass cover to extend the grazing season. The store cattle can be rotated around silage aftermath fields from late July to sale. Soil structure A (small!) hole had been dug in a field that is due to be reseeded this year. This is a useful and simple thing to do to determine any compaction issues before re-seeding. If ploughing then any compaction should be rectified but if only carrying out surface cultivations then other methods such as sub-soiling or aeration may be required. The 4 issues to consider when re-seeding are compaction, soil analysis, weed levels and level of sown species. The handout gave a flow chart of how the decision process should work. White Clover Doug has not had much success with White Clover over the years. He puts this down to the aspect and altitude and complicated management required. However the group thought that it was worth persevering especially with newer varieties that were not as sensitive to temperature as older varieties. The reduced stocking rate and fertiliser regime on the farm means that theoretically most of the grazing ground could get by with the N provided by White Clover with perhaps a small application of N in spring to get some early grass. However the importance of pH, P &
K status for White Clover was emphasised. Cows & heifers At housing cows had been grouped according to condition (by eye) and some minor modifications were also made following condition scoring in December. Lorna and Doug thought this had been a very worthwhile exercise. Basil Lowman suggested that whilst most cows were OK the two groups that he would not like to see lose much more condition before calving (fine for easy calving but may be problems getting back in calf) were the second calvers and the homebred bulling heifers. Stores The store cattle will now be on a declining concentrate ration to encourage compensatory growth at grass. It was generally agreed by the group that turning out the smaller cattle earlier should help them to catch up with the bigger cattle. As the bigger cattle are possibly better genetically they should do well whenever they are turned out. In particular the smaller heifers should be considered for early turnout to allow them to reach 370 kg by July so they can be put to the bull and sold for breeding. Sheep The main discussion on the sheep centred around ensuring that they are put on a higher (18%) concentrate some 2-3 weeks pre lambing. It is also important that the protein source is high in UDP so ingredients such as soya should be looked for in a compound feed. Another option would be to replace some of the compound with 100g/day of Hi Pro Soya per lamb carried. Grazing management post turnout was discussed. Whilst most people will turn ewes and lambs out in relatively small groups to avoid mis-mothering it is beneficial for grassland management to join groups together and start rotationally grazing over 3-4 fields. As long as this is not done with very young lambs (wait
until they are charging around in large groups) then larger mobs can be accommodated. Feed budgeting A simple feed budget was carried out based on South Mains silage stocks and likely requirements for the rest of the winter. Comments from attendees- what they will implement at home o Assess body condition of cows (especially at housing) o Assess feed stocks for the rest of the winter- take appropriate action which could include adjusting rations or selling stock o Consider a paddock grazing system o Soil analysis o Apply Phosphate to encourage White Clover o Make the animal work harder – i.e. graze tighter which will be beneficial to the grass whilst not detrimental to the animals o Analyse silage o Take sheep off fields now to ensure grass in spring o Try and encourage more Clover o Earlier fertiliser application. o Look at calving date – match with grass growth
uality Meat Scotland is ensuring Scottish companies don’t miss the opportunity to go for gold at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. QMS has registered on ‘CompeteFor’ – the chosen web site for London 2012 supply chain opportunities – www.competefor.com , which will enable it to highlight any red meat procurement opportunities to the industry. It’s been estimated that in the course of the games more than 75,000 supply chain opportunities totalling about £8bn will be awarded and Quality Meat Scotland wants to see visiting athletes getting the chance to taste some of the world’s best red meat.
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Issue sixty-three • March 2010
Sometimes – No Plan is the Best Plan by Fiona Sloan
asy care is a term that we all hear regularly these days and to those of us who grew up with shepherds and stocksmen on the farm it was something which, if there were sufficient staff, was an unnecessary concern. Now, it means a way to manage a profitable enterprise with fewer members of staff, thus still allowing time for “other things” which are more important. David Mactaggart's efforts to reform his traditional system earned him the title of Sheep Farmer of the Year in 2006 but he also had the foresight to see that the things in life, which are most important, need to fit around the sheep. David and his wife Juliette bought their tenanted farm Hallrule at Bonchester Bridge from the Wells Estate when it came on the market in 1997. They had moved there in 1988 and by 1991 had no option but to to make the shepherd redundant and do all of the work themselves. “I wasn't a shepherd!” says David. “Every mistake I made was a sharp learning curve! I did however have the advantage of being allowed to think outside the box, which enabled me to try things, which a “traditional shepherd” may have considered a bit bizarre.” The 1200 acres at Hallrule and part of neighbouring Town o' Rule is one large unit. It has the advantage of allowing the movement of stock from one end of the farm to the other singlehandedly, with the help of some good dogs. David set about looking at changing the sheep system at Hallrule and armed with a blank sheet of paper and a willingness to find an
easy care system, which would allow him to run the enterprise successfully with only the help of an assistant (who does the cattle and tractor work) he plumped for May lambing! The idea seemed sound to him, with all or most of the sheep remaining outside all the year round. Time, stress and feed costs were cut and the prospect of lambing in short sleeves and sunglasses seemed appealing. Despite words of caution from friends and neighbours to try some of the ewes out on the system first, David decided that doing two lambings was a situation he wanted to avoid. Although some severe east blizzards arrived late during the first lambing, he swallowed the losses and continued the following year. May lambing, has now become “the norm” at Hallrule, as it has now on many other farms throughout the country. The 1500 ewes are kept on the hill for most of the winter. To prevent having to cart feed a distance during the winter the silage is stored in an Ag Bag silage roll on the hill. This means that the ewes have a nearby source of food and only one vehicle is required to make it up the hill during heavy snow. Having historically run Mules, David looked at the type of sheep he was using and after a great deal of research decided that the potential for the Romney breed on the farm was good. He set about sourcing top Romney rams from Marcus Maxwell to cross over the current Mule stock to eventually breed a 3/4 Romney ewe as the base ewe for the flock. “The Romney ewe has an outstanding bond immediately with its lambs, which makes it an easy care
sheep at lambing in particular,” says David. “Anything that has problems at lambing time is culled out to prevent recurring problems.” The Romney ewe can live on rougher pasture and while the singles are split before lambing into fields with a stocking ratio of around 10 to the acre, the twos and threes are run together less densely, but no ewes receive concentrate at any time – only grass. The use of the Romney cross is set to continue on the farm to enable the system to further develop, wich, should the need arise, is able to tick over on its own for a time without too much intervention. Nowhere was this more evident when two of the most important things in David's life were lost to him in the last year. His 17 year old daughter Sarah-Jane was lost to Meningitis sadly followed by his wife Juliette when she lost her battle with cancer six months later. In the grand scale of things, no matter how important we think our farming enterprises are they are not our life! In memory of Sarah-Jane and Juliette, David has volunteered to navigate a team for the 3 peak 24hr challenge on 18th June organized by Logan Brown of Border Livestock Exchange. Andy Scrogal, Bill Rustric, Mike Jones and Logan's wife Karen who is in charge of cooking and Vaseline applications make up the team! Can't wait to see the pictures on that one!! All money raised will go to The Meningitis Trust, Macmillan Cancer Relief and Cancer Research UK. So all of you shepherds reading
this, while you're waiting for a ewe to lamb in the middle of the night, make good use of your time and send a donation to David Mactaggart, Hallrule, Bonchester Bridge Hawick TD9 8JF or Border Livestock Exchange 54-58 Marygate, Berwick-on-Tweed, TD15 1BN or visit www.meningitis-trust.tributefunds.com and remember sometimes there are more important things in life.
FARM FACTS Farmer: David Mactaggart Farming: Hallrule, 1200 acres owned Location: Bonchester Bridge, Hawick Scottish Borders
1500 Romney X ewes Easycare system 65 sucklers, Angus X Lim back to AA bull Spring barley
David is driving a team of runners, incuding Logan Brown, of Border Livestock Exchange, to the Three Peaks Challenge – please give generously
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
4000gns for Lurg
ewly weds, Ewen and Louise MacMillan, Lurg, Fintry, made history at Lanark at the weekend, selling a Blackface 2 crop ewe to 4000gns. Scanned in lamb with twins to the £44000 Connachan ram, in which Ewen has a fifth share, the ewe attracted a huge amount of interest from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Youngsters, Robert Kay of Gass, Straiton and Iain Finlay, Blackcraig, New Galloway, joined forces to secure the £1200 Dyke ovine, bred out of a Gatecrasher ewe. Lurg went on to sell another two ewes to 1000gns a piece, to Mr Walker, Crammie, Glen Prosen and Charlie Phillips, NI, averaging 1320gns for their pen of five. Last in the ring, Auldhouseburn topped the averages with a gimmer out of a £49000 Glenrath ewe, tupped by the £36K Drumgrange, carrying twins, selling for 3000gns to RD McInnes, Kilmarnock and a one-crop ewe also with Glenrath and Drumgrange lineage selling to the judge – Graham Loughrey – for 2500gns. RD McInnes also bought one from Crossflat at 1600gns.
Livestock Consultancy Agency Cattle and Sheep Breeding programmes carefully set upand stock selected and monitored to a high standard. For further details contact the Stockman on 07967677667 or visit our website www.thestockman.me.uk
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Golden Shears open final win odds released today: $2.50: John Kirkpatrick. $4: Paul Avery $4:, David Fagan. $9: Cam Ferguson $15: Dean Ball, Dion King $25: Jerome McCrea, Nathan Stratford, Gavin Mutch, Jason Win $40: Digger Balme, Adam Brausch $80: David Buick, Alton Devery, James Fagan, Darin Forde, Tony Coster, Grant Smith $100: Andy Mainland, Phil Wedd, James Mack, Angus Moore, Ringa Paewai, Matthew Smith $150: Eli Cummings, Ian Kirkpatrick Jnr, Shane Rawlinson $200: Ryan Miller, Rodney Macdonald, Shannon Warnest
Ewe Nutrition timely reminders by Dr John Vipond Beef & Sheep Select
ost supplementary feeding effort is directed to the ewe in the 6 weeks before lambing. But in the latest SAC booklet –Year Round Feeding for Lifetime Production – it is shown how this is too late to correct for cobalt deficiency at tupping. A deficiency at tupping can reduce lamb vigour at birth through effects on the egg and embryo. A newborn lamb loses heat to the ground four times faster than to the air so the sooner it stands the better. Feeding to improve lamb vigour can save lives by reducing hypothermia. o Avoid vitamin B12 deficiency caused by low cobalt intake around tupping – daily cobalt is needed from feed supplements or a bolus/bullet. o Very light lambs under 3 kg and very heavy lambs over 5 kg at birth take longer to stand. By feeding ewes according to their needs you can avoid this. o Do not overfeed pregnant ewe lambs, they should only gain around 50 g per day in pregnancy. Heavy feeding at over 0.5kg/d of supplementary concentrate with ad lib forage results in an overfat mother with underweight lamb(s). o Sort ewes by condition at scanning, aim to lamb at condition score 3 for housed ewes and 2 - 2 – for ewes lambing on grass. Overfed singles create lambing difficulties and underfed triplets are the greatest source of lamb loss. o Choose sires that were not assisted themselves at birth.
Specific Supplements To Improve Lamb Vigour Assuming no underlying trace element deficiencies, feeding above requirements with selenium, vitamin E and fish oils can improve lamb vigour. Selenium, preferably in a bio available form, along with iodine has a role in the “burning” of brown fat in the newborn lamb which produces extra heat to avoid hypothermia. Addition of mannan oligosaccharides in ewe diets improves colostrum quality and uptake – used for many years in the pig industry these yeast derivatives improve the structure of the small intestine and are now appearing in ewe diets and lamb feeds. Probably the most effective method of ensuring more lambs survive is to put more milk on the ewe and reduce her worm egg output. This can be achieved by addressing the shortage of DUP (digestible undegradable protein) in the ewe's diet from 3 weeks before lambing. DUP (also called also called rumen bypass protein) can be provided by feeding 100 g per day of soya per lamb carried. Unfortunately supplements are described by their crude protein percentage, which does not indicate degradability. Thus an 18% CP compound may not be the ideal supplement as in many situations it will have insufficient DUP. Buy soya separately as a meal and put it on top of the silage or as a nut and mix with compounds in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy.
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty--three • March 2010
The combined output from the raspberry, strawberry, broccoli and cauliflower growers is now almost on a par with the total output from the Scottish sheep industry or the dairy sector.
hey used to be considered the Cinderella crops that were grown by a few farmers in some of the kindlier soils in the East of Scotland but there has been a dramatic rise in the economic importance of vegetable and soft fruit growing in Scotland. Last month when the Scottish Government produced output figures for 2009. These showed the combined output from the raspberry, strawberry, broccoli and cauliflower growers was now almost on a par with the total output from the Scottish sheep industry or the dairy sector. This underlines the transformation in these crops with husbandry techniques being developed to ensure that Scottish producers benefit from the current demand for food to be supplied over a lengthy period by the major supermarkets. Long after the English crops have been harvested in peak season, Scottish fruit and vegetable crops continue to supply the whole of the United Kingdom. The soft fruit industry in particular has been innovative in developing new varieties and husbandry to maximize the potential for this sector. At the heart of the research involving soft fruit is the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie, which has just announced a number of moves aimed at continuing to keep the industry competitive. Blueberries They have been called ‘nature’s viagra’ but the more substantive claim for blueberries is that they supply more anti oxidants than almost any other fruit. In this health league, blueberries provide four times the quantity of recognized ‘healthy’ fruits such as bananas and apples. And that is one reason why over the past two or three years, the acreage of
by Andrew Arbuckle
blueberries planted in this country has rocketed. Scottish growers are very much involved in this increase but many of their plantations are not yet at full production. It takes three years between planting and the crop f ruiting anywhere near full yield but last year, in the UK some 765 tonnes of blueberries were harvested. That is three times the level set in 2008 and almost ten times the 2007 production level. Despite the surge in production, it is estimated that currently only 3% of the blueberries that are eaten in this country are home produced. This could be seen as a tremendous opportunity for expansion but there is one major problem. That is blueberries travel too well and it is easy for imported produce from countries with low labour costs such as Chile, Mexico and Poland to send fruit into the UK. Scottish growers have already found it difficult to get a market premium for blueberries grown in this country, so one avenue that is now being explored is mechanical harvesting of the crop as this will dramatically reduce costs. A group of twelve UK growers, fruit processors and major retailers are now funding a five year project at SCRI aimed at raising home production and part of this is finding a machine that will harvest the berries. SCRI have been growing blueberries for more than thirty years but it has only been in the past two or three years following increased levels of interest in healthy eating that the blueberry eating boom has taken off. Julie Graham, SCRI said the project would also be looking at which varieties were best suited to be grown in this country. SCRI were
already collaborating with research stations in both the USA and New Zealand in the sharing of information on germ plasm and the molecular make up of blueberries. The aim is to breed varieties suited to the climate in the UK and SCRI will be looking especially at how they can provide a long harvesting period as that is an essential element in s upplying today’s markets. Raspberries and Blackcurrants Scottish scientists involved in raspberry breeding will in future collaborate in research with colleagues in other plant research stations in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany. The consortium which has a budget of around £5.2 million and which will run for four years will look at ways of reducing chemical use and the carbon footprint of horticultural production systems. It will also concentrate on securing the production of locally grown fruit, providing fresh healthy food products and natural ingredients for foods with reduced chemical residues. Fittingly for a project called ClimaFruit, another goal is to develop strategies for the berry industry in order to secure its future in times of threat from climate change. SCRI bred raspberry, Glen Ample is currently the most popular variety in the UK. The domination of SCRI in the world of blackcurrant growing is evident in that half of all blackcurrants grown around the globe are varieties bred in Invergowrie. SCRI's lead scientist on the project, Dr Derek Stewart said the Insitute’s role as lead organisation was a recognition of its work in soft fruit research and breeding. "A recent external review described the soft fruit team here as
"world leaders". To be involved in this North European/North Sea Region consortium is a huge boost for us. It's also evidence that Scotland's vital berry industry has got first-rate research and development capability on its doorstep." He believed that beyond the scientific benefits, there could also be economic spin offs including the creation of new businesses that would contribute to local economies and help step up production of both fresh and processed berry products. Soft fruit production in Scotland is concentrated on less than 2,000 hectares of land with half of that area being committed to raspberry and blackcurrant growing. Most of the raspberry crop is grown under polytunnels in order to extend the harvest period which nowadays can stretch from May to November. Apart from SCRI, the other Climafruit partners are are Aarhus University, Denmark; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; Bioforsk, Norway; LWK Niedersachsen Fruit Research Institute, Germany and Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway. Meanwhile a new UK Raspberry breeding programme has been established with funding from a number of bodies including the Scottish Government and commercial growers. Raspberry breeder at SCRI Nikki Jennings said this five year funding would allow a new generation of varieties to be brought out. It can take up to fifteen years to bring out a new rasps variety but new molecular marking techniques were helping pin point areas where good and bad attributes can be included or excluded and that was a tremendous step forward.
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West Coast Marine Ltd., 6 Broom Place, Portree, Isle of Skye, IV51 9HQ
New Suzuki King Quad 400 â€“ Now with Fuel Injection
uzuki's popular middleweight ATV, the KingQuad 400, has been updated for 2010 with the addition of fuel injection, providing even more efficient performance from an already highly economical ATV. The new fuel injection system uses 3-D ignition maps for smooth and responsive power throughout the rev range. The KingQuad 400 also benefits from more consistent cold starts for improved reliability. The revised 376cc 4-stroke 4-valve
engine features new cam profiles for more usable power, whilst the redesigned exhaust system helps improve efficiency and overall performance. Another key update to this model is the inclusion of an easy-to-read LCD digital display. With a speedometer, odometer, tripmeter, hour meter, clock, fuel gauge and more, it allows riders to track their progress at a quick glance. KingQuad ATVs are renowned for
being no-fuss workhorses and the new 400 is no exception. Its practical features and comfortable T-shaped seat are designed to endure tough challenges and with fuel injection it's more economical than ever. The 400 has an easy-to-use nature and with features including selectable 2WD/4WD, a torque-sensing limited slip differential and a choice of either a fully automatic CVT or a manual 5-speed transmission, it's ideal for both novice and experienced users.
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
Garry McDiarmant I met up with Garry McDiarmant, who has driven tractors and operated machinery for Drew Watson Contracting for the past 8 years, at Clonrae Farm, Penpont, on my way home from Mouswald. He was busy hedge cutting – a job he has done since early October. When questioned if he was fed up cutting hedges, he replied, “No, if I take a drive at the weekend I can see hedges I’ve cut a few months back and see that I have done a good job.” The pride Garry aka ‘Big G’ takes in his work is also reflected in his tractor. Both interior and exterior are immaculate, with added interior decorating! This week Garry winds up his hedge cutting and is mounting a five furrow reversible Kverneland plough onto his 171hp New Holland tractor. “I’ll be kept busy ploughing until I have to help out at first cut silage.” Garry’s father is also one of the full-time tractormen working for the Watsons.
ver fifty years ago, dairy farmer, Drew Watson of Byeloch Farm, Mouswald, Dumfriesshire set out contracting locally, with a Massey 35. He progressed to a 135 then a 165. “We had the Masseys for a long time – they did us well. About thirty years ago we changed our main tractors to New Holland and have been using them ever since,” explained Drew, who also runs some John Deere tractors and JCB’s. The biggest changes Drew has noted in the past five decades are that, “With less labour on farms, farmers are much more dependant on agricultural contractors and the size and power of the tractors has increased dramatically. Mobile phones have also been a great asset.” From the early days with basic machinery, Drew has had to keep abreast of modern technology and can
offer farmers GPS mapped fertiliser spreading. So far only 1500acres of the land that he spreads is GPS mapped, but he feels that other farmers will soon catch on as the mapping is relatively cheap and it offers a saving on fertilizer. A new Amazone spreader is used for that job. The Watsons employ eight men full time and take on casual workers at silage and peak periods. Most of the casual staff come with their own tractors, but Drew is finding it increasingly harder to find good part time staff. During my visit the phone was constantly ringing and Drew and his wife Jeannie dealt with various requests professionally – and it was a quiet time of year! The busy spell starts with first cut silage, a lot of slurry is applied, then baling, whole crop, second cut silage and straight into harvest, followed by a big rush
“With less labour on farms, farmers are much more dependant on agricultural contractors,” says Drew Watson, who has been contracting for over half a century.
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on umbilical slurry spreading after the closed period. “Farmers are trying to utilise their slurry more, seeing it as a useful product rather waste – in doing so they are cutting their fertilizer a bit. Dairy farmers are cottoning on to injecting their slurry as cows can graze it very shortly after,” said Drew who uses a Stroth machine for slurry injecting. Harvesting of maize and fodder beet keeps staff busy from the end of October. “We have seen a big uptake of
plastic covered maize in this area, as it more or less is an insurance that the maize can be harvested 3 weeks earlier. We have Kemper headers and the one machine plants the maize, applies chemical and lays the plastic in one pass,” explained Drew. Spraying and combining are Drew’s forte, while his son John (28) is heavily involved in the contracting side, Drew milks the 80 head of Holstein Friesian cows every morning before attending to anything else. “Banks are holding back on farmers,”
comments Drew, who is finding his cash flow is not as regular as normal. “Beef and sheep are doing well, but this is a big dairy area and milk prices are low.” Other contractors echo his statement across the region and further a field.
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty--three â€˘ March 2010
by Declining Richard yields and crop quality? - Cogman policy prevails. Liming must be Is your land budgeted on a rotational basis, and across the cropping, and not suffering from costed seen as a 'one crop cost'. acidity? So, what are the key causes of soil acidification?
eliable evidence from the British Survey of Fertiliser Practice illustrates the decline in lime use for arable and grass land rotations. The national liming trends since 1997 are summarised in table 1:The data emphasises more than a 50% reduction in lime use for cultivated ('tillage') and grass land over the past decade until the modest
upturn in 2007/08. The indications are that our grasslands are becoming more acidic, and this reduction in pH is likely to adversely affect sward composition, and therefore yield and quality will decline. The decline in liming practice does not always have an immediate effect, however as pH declines in non calcareous soils the consequential
losses can be significant. This is because the pH scale is logarithmic, not linear, and therefore the effect of increasing acidity cannot be overlooked. Being logarithmic, pH 5.0 is ten times more acid than pH 6.0! Risking consequential yield loss, and sub-optimal responses to other costly inputs, such as other fertilisers can be avoided where a managed pH
Table 1: Liming trends from the British Survey of Fertiliser Practice. Lim e use in G reatB ritain 1997 -2008 (D ata source:B ritish Survey of Fertiliser P ractice)
% arealim ed /year
15.0 A lltillage A llgrass
12.5 10.0 7.5 5.0 2.5 0.0 1997
Graph 1: Minimum pH by crop type. M inim um pH
M inim um crop pH on m ineralsoil S ource:ALA
D angerZone 6.8
C onsequentialyield loss w illoccurifpH dropsinto the danger zone !
o Rainfall and drainage water leaching: this can cover a wide range, however 0.3-0.5t 'lime'/ha. is a reasonable estimate of annual loss. Textural classification will influence leaching characteristics and the natural calcareous content will affect the natural background pH of the soil. o Nitrogenous fertilisers will through nitrification, displace calcium and lead to pH reduction: 1kg ammonium nitrate may equate to almost 2kg 'lime', and ammonium sulphate may increase this significantly. o Crop off-take: generally arable crops do not remove large quantities of calcium, however herbage crops can remove much larger amounts, 1.0t 'lime'/ha would be a reasonable 'lime loss'. So given the potential combined effects of these and other factors how can you predict the rate of acidification on your farm? In practice, the most effective policy is to pH test and map fields on a planned basis to establish the liming need ahead of planting low pH sensitive crops, such as barley. ALA trials have shown a 2.0t/ha yield penalty for barley grown one pH unit below optimum (from pH 6.5 to 5.5). So, when should you be testing and liming in your rotation? â€“ Target up to year ahead of your most sensitive crop depending upon the reactivity of your liming source. LimeX is ideal for very fast acting, but lasting pH correction in arable and grassland enterprises, and can be used in organic farming systems. Furthermore, the integral nutrient package within LimeX makes a valuable contribution to soil fertility. A 'pH maintenance' application of LimeX (5/t ha) will supply a minimum of: o 50kg P2O5 o 35kg MgO o 45kg SO3 These nutrients are typically worth ÂŁ50-60 per hectare. LimeX has been proven in independent field trials to effectively suppress clubroot in field brassicas, and is currently being trialled in oilseed rape for similar benefits. LimeX is available via our Newark Sugar Factory and can be collected or delivered in bulk tipped loads. For more information on LimeX please contact 0870 2402314, or visit: limex.co.uk
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www.puddlejumpers.co.uk 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.
LOTHIAN John Sinclair – South Queensferry
really love this time of year, on writing this in mid February the first of the snow drops have just come out, the sun is shining and it is sitting at +1 deg cent, how much better does it get? Much of my day is spent in the office which I do enjoy, however it is great to get the chance to get back out to the coal face again. A week ago I got the chance to help the guys cover some raspberry tunnels; I think it had been the first time my working clothes had been on for over 6
months! What a rewarding job skinning tunnels is (when the weather is on your side!!), getting a team of ten all working together as one to get the job done is really satisfying. And at the end of the day your hands are cut to shreds, your muscles ache but you have something to show for your sweat and hard work. On the other extreme another favourite job of mine is washing the dishes!! I can regularly be found giving our Kitchen Porter a well deserved break on a busy weekend.
It is a totally brain numbing job but from our dish wash area I can see what is going on in the shop, cafe and out on the farm. No one bothers you, I think everyone is scared to come and see me there in case they get the job of helping! It is again the thing of you can see what you are achieving, dirty plates in clean out.....nothing to do with rubber gloves! It is also a good way to see how the whole operation is going, if the plates are coming into the dish wash area with little or no scraps it means we have happy customers and everyone in the team have worked well. Dream on....Monday morning it will be back in the office where the only thing to show that you have done something is that the pile of paper is not sitting in a different pile on the desk!! There has been a lot in the press about the damage done to a lot of strawberries in Scotland. Not sure if it has just been good luck or perhaps the slightly warmer climate where we are but we seem to have faired ok. Hopefully by the time you read this, our plants will be nice and cosy in the tunnels wrapped up in fleece,
will we have any ready for mid May this year? Once the snow cleared around mid January the shop and cafe started to get really busy. By mid February we were back to the same problem before the extension, queues for tables, even mid week!! Oh no not another extension.... Steve has been working hard to increase sales in the butchery, it is hard work building up the business but sales are going in the right direction and I am sure by April trade from the butchery will be flying. Craigie’s is now on Facebook and twitter. I always thought I was ahead of the times when it came to this kind of stuff, but I soon realised that I was well behind when I found Robert Osborne on Facebook. Robert was the last person I expected to find!! What a powerful marketing tool, in just 2 weeks we had over 250 fans, each of these fans have on average 60 friends so at the click of a mouse you can potentially reach 15,000 people. It is a great way to connect with your customer at a moment’s notice. Become a fan, just search for Craigie’s Farm Shop and Cafe.
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
Scottish Scholars 2010
tarting out on their journeys of a lifetime, three Scots from the farming and rural industries have been announced winners of a 2010 Nuffield Farming Scholarship Award. Michael Blanche, Jim Baird and Andrew Scarlett will begin their travels in the USA at a week-long pre-study ‘International Conference’ focusing on global food and farming issues, where they will also join fellow Nuffield Scholars from around the world prior to setting off on their solo studies in the spring. Funded by the agriculture and food industry, charities with agricultural objectives and past Scholars, the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust awarded 21 Scholarships this year to enthusiastic people aged 22 to 45 years old. The ‘farming ladder’ will be the focus of the study to be undertaken by agricultural consultant and sheep farmer, Michael Blanche, who runs 650 ewes on seasonal lets at Saline, Fife. “I want to understand under what set of circumstances do the most effective farming ladders exist throughout the world,” said Michael. “What are the systems that encourage the progress of individuals from a low capital base with restricted control of land to become established and successful farmers. Do particular policies or market forces result in greater progress in farming?” “I’m biased, but I do think new entrants are important to UK agriculture. Having gone through the process myself, I’d also like to point to some solutions that might help others starting from nothing.” Michael plans to visit USA, Australia, New Zealand and Europe to look at new entrants and their ability to progress in farming after entry. His study will be sponsored by the MacRobert Trust. Lanark dairy farmer, Jim Baird, of Nether Affleck Farm, Kirkfieldbank, will undertake a Royal Highland Agricultural Society sponsored study looking at the ‘attributes of enterprising rural businesses’. “I want to identify the critical success factors in expanding and entrepreneurial rural-based businesses. In particular, I would like to examine the attitudes of the individuals driving these businesses and their use of the assets available to them. “On my list of countries to visit is New Zealand to develop an understanding of their attitudes to business in an unsupported economy, and the role of capital in their succession system. I also want to visit
the United States to see how central government supports entrepreneurial activity, along with China to investigate the exceptional growth of this developing economic superpower,” said Jim. Andrew Scarlett, owner and manager of Scarletts (Scotland) beekeeping and honey packing business, will travel to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, to study ‘the decline of the honey bee.’ Located at Meigle, Perthshire, Scarletts have some 50 million bees which pollinate vast areas of soft fruit, lowland flowers and, from July each year, the heather of the Grampian hills. “For the last three years in Scotland we have had very poor summers and bee health has declined,” explained Andrew. “There’s not much we can do about the weather, but it has focused my mind on what we can do to help our bees. “Beekeeping is financially very poorly supported, compared with the rest of agriculture, and until recently beekeepers, government and civil servants did not interact very much. Likewise, although we spend all our time on farms and have good relationships with farmers, we do not engage with organisations and policy makers who have a direct affect on land use policy and, therefore, our livelihoods. “One example would be the breeding of new plant strains and hybrid varieties that are lacking in pollen and nectar. This factor is apparently not considered when breeding new strains of oil seed rape, for instance. One very small thing I would like to do is to meet with seed houses and authorities to see if it can be factored back in without harming farmers’ yields.” Andrew hopes to visit centres of excellence that are working on bee related problems – everything from disease, to lack of forage, to changes in agriculture – in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His study will be sponsored by Anne and Alan Beckett. Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust Director, John Stones points out that the study topics chosen by all 2010 Scholars are highly geared towards the UK farming industry and how they can benefit UK farmers. But their first Nuffield experience is truly global. At an international gathering in Washington in March, UK award winners will be joined by Nuffield Scholars from Australia, Canada, France, Ireland and New Zealand – along with delegates from like-minded associations from around the world,
such as the Eisenhower Fellowships (USA), the Executive Programme for Agricultural Producers (USA), Global Dairy Farmers (Netherlands), the Mexican Farm Co-operative and the Uruguayan Farmers. The focus of this year’s event is the ‘global food crisis,’ with Scholars being challenged to think about world food production, its uncertainties and its interdependencies, and understand how agriculture fits within the jigsaw of world politics, energy supplies and population growth. How can a global population of nine billion be fed healthily and sustainably? How can it be in the best interests of a nation to maintain food prices at low levels to the detriment of food producers? How, as an industry, do we place more value on food to ensure the people who produce it can maintain an equitable and sustainable existence? These are some of the questions that will be examined and debated.
“Forming part of an ambitious international learning programme run by Nuffield, the conference will help strengthen Scholar’s understanding of the global food system and help them understand the implications for UK farming patterns,” explains John. “But, just as important, it will also provide our Scholars with an exceptional forum for exchanging their ideas and building new networks. “Our new Scholars will soon get a feel for the bigger picture and their new contacts are bound to bring a global dimension to their future studies.” Supported and sponsored by leading agribusiness organisations, charities and individuals, this year’s award winners join a growing and influential group of over 600 scholars in the UK and over 1,000 worldwide, all of whom have travelled internationally and explored subjects and issues in a global context far beyond their back yards.
SAC Taster Days
ommitting to a Degree or HND is a big step. SAC recognizes this and is offering you the opportunity to be a student for a day at one of its Taster Days this March. These extremely popular events are an excellent way to find out more about the day to day of being an SAC student. A range of sessions run throughout the day and relate to the Degrees and other courses offered at the campus. In Aberdeen, for example, there will be the chance to go pond dipping or to learn about lambing.
While in Ayr, an introduction to bouldering (given by current sport students who have been trained in wall climbing instruction) is on offer, as is a session on how algae is now being used as a sustainable biofuel. And in Edinburgh, sessions include an introduction to animal behaviour and welfare, and the basics of garden design. Aimed at anyone interested in studying at SAC this autumn, full details on all sessions on offer and a booking form is available at www.sac.ac.uk/learning or by calling 0800 269 453.
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three â€˘ March 2010
ell placed in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway's livestock farming Barony College provides an excellent environment for learning about agriculture. The farm estate of 270 hectares is run as a commercial operation but with emphasis on learning through hands on farm work, group and one to one instruction, performance monitoring and analysis. The Barony Dairy Technology Centre is home to two Holstein dairy herds, a 220 cow herd averaging 8000 litres is milked twice a day in a modern 24:24 herringbone parlour and a 60 cow herd on a robot voluntary milker. The NC students milk on a rota basis and the feeding
systems provide experience and comparison of TMR and feed to yield. Automated technology captures herd information from pedometer activity, heat detection, automatic milk recording and milk conductivity and stores it in the college computer network. From there it is used for herd management, teaching and student projects. A 280 head sheep flock of Texel and Greyface crossed with high EBV Charolais and Texel tups provides a learning base for flock husbandry and management. All lambs are weighed and handled regularly with students monitoring performance, drawing fat lambs and analysing kill sheets. The suckler herd of 35 Aberdeen
Angus cross cows provides opportunities for students to see a range of options from selling stores to finishing once bred heifers. Dairy bulls are finished on intensive barley systems. The 75 hind deer herd adds to the student's experience of handling and feeding different livestock. Livestock records and performance monitoring is done on Farm Wizard which can be accessed by staff and students from any college computer. As well as grassland management and grass silage making, students get first hand experience of growing maize, winter cereals, spring barley and forage brassicas. The college contains one of the best equipped engineering workshops in Scotland providing students with a superb facility for practical training. The college library and IT suite provides access to a wide range of study material and E-learning sites in the student intranet. A modern livestock farm at the forefront of innovation makes Barony the natural place to learn for a future in agriculture The agricultural courses range from block release SVQ's, which involves attending college for 5 one week blocks throughout the year, the practical 1 year full time National Certificate in Agriculture, which is
half work based and half classroom based and the classroom based 1 year full time Higher National Certificate in Agriculture which prepares graduates for making future farming decisions and allows entry into Degree courses at other centres. As well as Agriculture there are a full range of courses available on land based industries such as Engineering, Forestry and Arboriculture, Horticulture, Animal Care, Equine, Vet Nursing and Fish Farming. Barony College, Parkgate, Dumfries DG1 3NE. Tel: 01387 860251 email@example.com www.barony.ac.uk
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
by Fiona Sloan
rom the family beginnings on a hill farm in the Scottish Borders, Peter Sanderson's interest in agriculture equipment has grown into a family business, in which all of the family members are now involved. The original “Penderfeed” was a metal framed walk through sheep trough, which had wood bolted to it and as well as acting as a feeder, it doubled as a penning system. Since the first one was sold in 1987, many sheep farmers over the years will have turned their empty shed into a good handling and feeding area at lambing time, using the Penderfeed and this simple innovation continues to be a major part of the business.
In 1982, the family moved to Middlefield near Duns, which has become the permanent home of the farming enterprises, the livestock equipment business and the new innovative Cover-All buildings sector. Father Peter still heads the original Penderfeed organisation, while son Ben, with help from the rest of the family – mum Sara and brothers Simon and Tim, who both work part time at home, while having other professional careers. “As a Chartered Surveyor, Simon comes in handy,” smiles Ben. “Tim has always had an interest in sheep and when we lost the flock to FMD in 2001 it was not a hard
Building for the Future decision to reintroduce them and he looks after the sheep side of the business, while also working as a physiotherapist.” The Cover-All building business came from a chance search on the internet, by a Canadian company, where they found Penderfeed Livestock Equipment and promptly made contact with Peter, with regard to the company acting as a franchise for Cover-All in the UK. “The first year was mostly ground work,” explains Ben, who took a placement year from college in Canada to work with the company and research the business, which he would ultimately invest in. “I was convinced they were good buildings, which would work anywhere and could be used for many purposes, not only agriculture,” says Ben. “After that it was just a lot of time and phone calls convincing everyone else of the benefits.” With any type of building, particularly in agriculture, word of mouth is the best advertising that you can have and the word soon spread that the Cover-All buildings would work in numerous different locations and for a variety of uses from housing livestock to horse arenas and any number of commercial purposes. Willie Murray, Wester Balbeggie, Kirkcaldy, put up one of the first Cover-All sheds and explains, “I keep dairy cows in the shed during the winter and wet greens during harvest time. The biggest benefit is the amount of extra light and ventilation in the shed particularly for the dairy cattle and they are a much cheaper option than a traditional building but have the same life expectancy guarantee.” The family's attention to detail: in store service and use of a team of family members and friends, as well as workers local to the area, in which they are working, is a combination which seems to ensure satisfaction all round. “Sometimes when things don't go
to plan, it helps to shout at someone you know!” jokes Ben. With this year's exceptional weather conditions and the weight of snow bringing down many shed roofs across the country, the Cover-All buildings have been a God send to some farmers who need a permanent replacement before lambing time. Built like a giant Meccano set with a clear span, which pieces together, a quick solution is found by constructing a building, which snow falls off because of its shape. With a white interior on a coloured roof incorporating a white “skylight” running along the roof, it allows more natural light than a normal roof. The roofing material is strong enough to withstand being pierced by a forklift without ripping. From an order being made at the end of January following the loss of a traditional building to snow, the new building, including made to order concrete side panels, was up within two weeks. Complete with a 10 year parts warranty and a 25 year lifespan, like most traditional buildings, it's a sound investment for any business. A nine metre by thirty-six metre standard building can be erected in around three days. Since sowing the initial seed and taking on the Cover-All franchise, Ben Sanderson has grown the business beyond expectations. He has not only erected buildings across the UK, but because of its sound weather resistant design, Cover-All has proved ideal for a variety of uses on the Continent and Ben and his cohorts have completed projects in France, Finland, Holland and Sweden. From hill farming beginnings and an interest in livestock equipment, Peter Sanderson and his family have taken their businesses to a new level. The family enterprise which began all those years ago continues to grow as a family enterprise and looks to the future in the same way.
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he innovative Roundhouse livestock building has picked up yet another award for its environmental credentials. It received The Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) Ivel award for the product or innovation with the most positive impact on the environment at the LAMMA show. This award is the third environmental award the building has scooped, coming on top of two from The Green Organisation last year, which also recognised the building for having a positive environmental impact. In 2007 the building also won the Country Landowners Association's President's Award for the Best New Building in England and Wales, and won a Silver medal for innovation at the 2008 Royal Highland Show. The unique shape of the building has significant environmental benefits on two fronts – from a human aesthetic environmental point of view when viewed at a distance, and internally from an animal environmental point of view in that the building arguably provides the best housed environment for farm animals. “We initially designed the building from an animal perspective, in that we wanted superb air flow through the building to keep fresh air moving, and a very welfare friendly, easy to manage system that would provide a
stress free environment,” says John Allinson, one of the building's designers from Roundhouse Building Solutions Ltd (RBSL), along with business partner Geoff Simpson. One of the main reasons for the building's “environmental aesthetics” is that it has no walls, and has a green umbrella shaped roof made from tensile PVC coated polyester fabric of incredibly high strength and durability, and which is commonly used on prestigious and complex architectural features. The rustic green colour of the roof blends well in most situations and, while unusual in shape, the building is only ever seen tangentially – significantly reducing the visual impact. One environmental option for the building is to install a rainwater harvesting system, and the feasibility of installing solar panels on the roof is also being investigated. At the end of its useful life – the roof is expected to last over 25 years – the whole of the building can be recycled. RBSL has also recently embarked on a research project with the University of Cumbria to assess the performance of the animals within the building to try and reduce their carbon footprint. The attractions of a Roundhouse mean it is finding favour with all sectors of the livestock industry, with the building having been sold into the beef, dairy, calf rearing, deer and pig sectors.
rise in metabolic problems caused by cows going into the dry period 'over-condition' is being seen in UK dairy herds, according to SCA NuTec nutritionist Norman Downey. “Cows are ending their lactation and going in to the dry period with condition scores of 4 or even higher. Ideally they should be condition score 3 to 3.25 through this transition phase to ensure good feed intakes and prevent problems associated with fatty liver, such as ketosis, at calving and in early lactation.” The reasons for more over condition cows in this period could be changes in management and, at this time of year, availability of fresh grass. “To ease management and keep the system simple more herds are being managed as one group. And the belief was that as cows moved into mid and late lactation their intakes would drop in line with milk production. But what we're actually finding is that intakes do not drop and instead cows are laying down more body fat.” Similar problems of excess body fat arise in mid and late lactation cows on spring and early summer grazing. Excess body condition reduces dry feed intake because the fat restricts rumen capacity both pre and post calving. To make up for the deficit in intake the cow will mobilise body fat at the onset of lactation and this excessive fat mobilisation leads to fatty liver. “We know that at least 50% of all cows suffer from some form of fatty liver.” In effect, the liver becomes a
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bottle neck and it cannot function adequately. The supply of fat, glucose and protein to the udder is reduced and so milk yields can suffer. Detoxification in the liver slows down and ammonia accumulates, increasing the risk of ketosis. “Producers need to reduce the risks of fatty liver within their management system. This is possible by improving the efficiency of the liver through nutrition and can be achieved by adding specific blends of vitamins and essential co-factors to the diet.” One such product, LiFT (Liver Function Technology), developed by SCA NuTec's parent company Provimi, has been shown to increase average milk yield by 3.4 litres per cow during the first 12 weeks of lactation and reduce somatic cell counts by 32% when included in the transition cow diet at a rate of 50g per cow per day for 21 days pre calving then 100g a day post calving to 100 days. Fat and protein yields were also seen to increase. And when LiFT was kept in the diet yields continued to be above those in the control group. “LiFT helps liver function. It means the liver will have a greater ability to use energy from dietary fat and body reserves and more energy for milk production. It is also designed to aid fertility, health and welfare of the cows and it has been shown to be a cost-effective solution. Producers should look carefully at the solutions and overcome potential problems, making sure that they have the right nutritional programme for their management system.”
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farmingscotland.com Issue sixty-three • March 2010
Golden Shears Odds
he NZ TAB has dangled a carrot before shearing punters by listing Golden Shears icon and veteran reigning champion David Fagan only third favourite to retain his title in the 50th anniversary open championship in Masterton next week. The 48-year-old from Te Kuiti, winner of both the 30th and 40th anniversary finals in securing 16 Golden Shears open championship titles from 1986 to his tumultuous triumph 12 months ago, was paying $6 when the book opened today, a week earlier than last year. The opening favourite is the No 1 ranked competitor in the country, 2002 and 2008 champion and reigning New Zealand open champion John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, quoted at $2.50, while World champion and 2005 and 2007 winner Paul Avery, who farms at Toko, near Stratford, was paying $4 to win the title. The only other shearer paying single-figures, paying $9, is Waipawa gun Cam Ferguson, the 2004 senior champion, more than 10 years younger than the more favoured hopefuls and aiming for a first time in the six-man final, which has been a sporting and rural showpiece since it was first held in 1961. Te Kuiti shearer Dean Ball, who has made the final 11 times in the last 12 years without winning the major prize, and 2006 champion Dion King, of Napier, are next at $15, therefore the two others considered most likely to make the final, from which the winner will gain the first of two machine-shearing places in the New Zealand team at this year's World Championships in Wales. Odds have been listed for 30 shearers, just under a third of those lining-up in the heats on the afternoon of the third day of the golden jubilee shears, heralding a tense, four-stage day-and-a-half culminating in the final on the night of March 6. The win pool is, however, just one of several options being offered by an excited TAB, with Masterton-based shearing bookie Kieran McAnulty saying there are hopes of carrying the momentum forward to other shearing events in the future. Already open is head-to-head betting, in which punters can go for the best result between 2008 World Championship teammates John Kirkpatrick ($1.52) and Paul Avery ($2.40), veteran David Fagan ($1.57) vs. up-and-comer Cam Ferguson ($2.30), or perennial winless finalist Dean Ball ($1.87) vs. past-champion Dion King ($1.87). Mr McAnulty said a top-three (place) option is expected to be
available, Transtasman shearing test betting will open with the Kiwis clear favourites at $1.20, against the Australians' $4.20, and a pool will open next Monday on the PGG Wrightson National Round-Up, following confirmation of the 12 qualifiers for its culmination during the Golden Shears. Mr McAnulty said: “The TAB has never previously offered so many betting opportunities on the Golden Shears and with the whole event attracting considerable attention from New Zealanders we expect a large amount of interest from our punters.” “This is a fantastic opportunity for punters to get involved in what is an important event in New Zealand’s sporting calendar and cultural identity. We look forward to providing punters with further option for other shearing events, such as the New Zealand Shearing Champs (in Te Kuiti in April) and the World Championship.” The Golden Shears Championship will be awarded on a combination of time, job and quality penalties, with the lowest score winning. The time is calculated at a point for every 20 seconds, with job points being recorded by judges on the board as the sheep are shorn and quality points by judges in the pens after each sheep have been shorn. As always this year sees an impressive array of local and overseas shearers vying for world shearing’s greatest honour. “The Golden Shears is the ultimate accolade for any international shearer which always brings the best out of each competitor. Although we have named our favourites the TAB is fully aware of the genuine possibility of an upset this year, especially with it being the 50th anniversary, everyone is desperate to get their name on the trophy,” and the TAB is not ruling-out an upset from the overseas brigade, headed by Whangamomona-based Scotsman and three-times finalist Gavin Mutch ($25), while top Australian and 2000 and 2005 World Champion Shannon Warnest is paying $200. “These boys have hearts the size of Rimu Trees, so really any competitor who qualifies for the Open Final can take it out,” Mr McAnulty said. The New Zealand Racing Board holds a commitment to increasing the profile of Shearing by passing a proportion of funds placed with the TAB back to Shearing Sports New Zealand, so we see expanding our betting opportunities to include such options as Top 3, Head to Head, PGG Wrightson National Circuit Final and the Trans-Tasman Test as an expansion of that commitment.”
New Holland Agriculture announces Tier 4A solutions
s the Clean Energy Leader, New Holland has been pioneering the use of biodiesel in agricultural machinery since 2006 and is currently researching the most advanced technologies. The brand developed the award winning NH2TM tractor – the first to use hydrogen fuel cells – and the Energy Independent Farm concept, exploring ways to enable farmers to reach zero emissions and energy independence in the future. In the meantime, Tier 4A emissions regulations will become a legal requirement in 2011 for medium and heavy-duty engines above 174hp (130 kW). Once again, New Holland intends to be at the forefront of the industry with ingenious solutions that make farming easier and more efficient while respecting the environment. “We believe that a one size fits all approach just won't work in modern farming,” explains Pierre Lahutte, director of global marketing and communication for New Holland Agriculture. “We are committed to integrating the best available engine technology for every machine and operation.” So, New Holland has adopted Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology for machines with engines above 100hp and Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (CEGR) for engines below 100hp. These solutions have been developed in partnership with Fiat Powertrain Technologies who are the environmentally friendly engine pioneers. They have already produced over 100,000 Cursor and Nef engines that effectively use SCR
technology. Throughout this process, the technology has been continually developed and refined. This has resulted in a reduction in operating and maintenance costs, while increasing productivity and meeting emission requirements at a competitive price. SCR is an after treatment system that's separate from the main engine function and does not compromise horsepower or torque. It does not interfere with engine performance, but actually improves it. The SCR system uses a catalyst that treats the nitrogen oxides contained in the exhaust gas with an odourless mixture of chemical urea and purified water, transforming them into harmless water and nitrogen. The system is easy to use and simply requires the operator to fill the additive tank. The additive will be available through an extensive distribution network and can conveniently be stored on the farm. “SCR will be further developed to guarantee our customers the most reliable, cost effective and state of the art products when future, ever more stringent emission regulations are introduced for the agricultural industry,” says Pierre Lahutte. “By using SCR technology beginning in 2011, New Holland has invested in research and development now that will be invaluable in helping us to achieve final Tier 4B requirements. Having compliant technology now allows us to keep our research investments focused on developing the next generation of agricultural machinery that will redefine the efficiency, comfort and performance that farmers demand.”
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analysis of data, on-farm demonstrations and the use of specialist speakers in all relevant areas of the dairy industry. “By sharing information and creative experiences we hope the monitor farmers will prompt discussion for improvement of knowledge and existing skills as well as the development of new skills and also gain greater enjoyment and quality of life from dairying.” Sandy Milne of Carcary Farms runs 340 pedigree Holstein herd with followers. The business is family-run and also includes an arable enterprise typical of the area growing barley and wheat. The monitor farm project will also involve working closely with the Milne family's nutritionist, Karen Stewart of East Coast Viners and local vet, Graeme Richardson. Mr Milne has invested heavily over the past six years and dramatically altered the set-up of the main dairy unit at East Pitfurthie. Improvements include cubicle housing for milking cows, a flush wash slurry system and slurry separator, and the use of automatic feeders in the calf house. The Fleming family run 190 pedigree Holsteins at Hillhead, Kirkpatrick Fleming where they have been dairying since November 2002 and the farm partnership includes Willie and his mother and father, Robert and Margaret Fleming. The family is currently making a major investment to give them a platform
First Meetings for Scotland's New Dairy Monitor Farms
cotland's two new dairy monitor farms in South West and Central Scotland are opening their gates to host their first meetings this month. The new monitor farms, appointed by DairyCo and Quality Meat Scotland, are Carcary Farms, Brechin, Angus (run by Sandy Milne) and Hillhead, Kilpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire, run by William Fleming. The first Central Scotland meeting
takes place this Thursday (March 4th) at East Pitfurthie, Brechin, Angus at 11am. This will be followed on March 24th with the inaugural meeting for the South West at Hillhead, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, also at 11am. The meetings are free to attend and open to farmers and industry representatives. The two farms were selected by a panel of dairy farmers and industry representatives as great examples of dairy farming businesses in their
areas, each facing the challenges and opportunities typical of other dairy farms in the areas. DairyCo extension officer, Heather Wildman, said: “The aim of the new monitor farms is to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of the farming businesses, allowing others in the community groups to be actively involved and benefit from the shared knowledge. “Activities will include field visits, monitoring of actions, collation and
from which to expand the business and the challenges they hope to tackle as a monitor farm include cow health and longevity, focusing mainly on lameness and fertility. They also hope to improve soil condition and the quality of forage crops grown. Further information on both meetings is available from Heather Wildman, DairyCo Extension Officer on 07876 706391 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org