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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010


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CONTENTS

farmingscotland

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

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HighlandShow

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Animal Health

Judges 2011

Issue seventy-one • November 2010 BVD

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Eilidh MacPherson

farmingscotland EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 3TE Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 07977897867 editor@farmingscotland.com www.farmingscotland.com PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson ADVERTISING – Eilidh MacPherson – 016444 60644 Fiona McArthur – 01583 421397 Alison Martin – 01292 443097

Cover - Jersey cows at Alderston Mains Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated

n production now for seven years, farmingscotland.com finally managed to be organised enough to enter the Scottish Magazine Awards. I’m delighted to have been nominated for Feature Writer of the Year and look forward to a night out in Glasgow on December 1st at the awards ceremony. It makes all the hard work, late nights and deadlines all seem worth while! (She says typing this at 2.48am with an article still to write) This issue is packed with interesting features and we have a new ‘Land’ section. James Butler, in Strutt & Parker’s Glasgow office, said: “The sales of Carskiey Estate and Kennacraig Farm mean two very distinctive properties are currently available in Kintyre and Kintyre has not had that in a very long time. “They are two very well known estates and are attracting extremely healthy interest. “Kennacraig has been on the market for less than a week and we have already had a very healthy response. International, national and local people have expressed an interest in viewing. “Carskiey was launched three weeks ago and we have had more than 300 inquiries and organised more than 30 viewings. “There is still demand for farmland on the west coast, particularly from Ireland and England because they are getting more value for their money in Scotland, and these two properties demonstrate that.” Highland Show Judges and BVD in cattle are covered on the first few pages. QMS is offering a Big Initiative

to beef and sheep farmers ‘with a hunger to improve and grow their businesses,’ on page 8. And on page 30 Donald Biggar and the team representing Scottish farmers in France. As a Highlander I think I can point out that his kilt is too long! Dairy and beef are next with an excerpt from a book that farmingscotland.com is helping put together for Ian Duncan of Annan. It will be on sale in the next couple of weeks. A great buy for any farmer or country person for Christmas. Peter Small reports on the Scottish National Ploughing Championships from Upper Nesbit in the Borders. His words are complimented by quality photographs. For us the last six weeks has been flat out with tup sales, stock work, hoggs heading off for wintering and such like. But I did manage to find time for a trip south to see sheep on Saville Row. As part of Prince Charles’ Wool Week, Saville Row in London was turfed and two flocks of sheep were in town. It was novel and attracted a crowd, but I was disappointed that no farmers had been invited. A breakfast was on offer for press and officials in a fancy restaurant on the Row. It was certainly a change of scene snapping pictures next to the Fleet Street photographers rather than the farming fraternity. But I must admit I was delighted to get back on farm, two days of public transport was too much! Hugh Stringleman writes on the what is happening in the world of wool across the water.

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Dairy

14 16

Beef

17

Around the Regions

20 21

Machinery

22 23

Arable

24 25 28

AI Keenan

Scottish National

Land Farms for Sale

World Markets

Page 8 -

QMS

Page 12 -

De Laval

with NZ correspondent

Page 14 -

Keenan

Hugh Stringleman

Page 19-

FAO/Asim Hafeez

Page 20/21 - Peter Small Page 24/25 - Strutt & Parker Page 26 -

Andrew Arbuckle/ Agriscot

Page 30 -

QMS

30

Rural Round-up

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farmingscotland

RHS

Issue seventy-one • November 2010

SHEEP JUDGES Overall Sheep Inter-Breed Champ Hugh Guthrie, Mosspark, Kilmarnock Inter-Breed Pairs & Young Handlers Charles Scott, Viewfields, Hawick Beltex Kevin Buckle, Buckles Farm, Kirkby Stephen Berrichon du Cher TBC Blackface Andrew Paton, Genoch, Maybole Bluefaced Leicester Iain Ogg, Carroch, Kirriemuir Border Leicester J Douglas, Woodhead, Fraserburgh British Blue Du Maine Ian Beck, Port O Spittal, Stranraer

Scott Renwick

British Rouge De L’Ouest D J B Watkins, The Meads, Hereford Charollais Carole Ingram, Logie Durno Farm, Inverurie Cheviot M Little, Hewwell, Langholm Commercial Sheep Jimmy Hall, Cleuchhead Farm, Duns Hampshire Down Henry Derryman, Peterhayes Farm, Honiton Hebridean Barry Lewis, 1 Lodge Cottage, Daventry Jacob John Newborough, Moat Cottage, Lincs Lleyn David Alexander, Millside Farm, Galston North Country Cheviot - Park Sheep Scott Davies, North Synton, Ashkirk North Country Cheviot Hill Sheep Scott Renwick, Clachan Farmhouse, Ullapool Ryeland

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010 has been some year for Scott Renwick, Clachan Farm, Ullapool. He topped the Scottish National Sheep Dog Trials with his bitch Roci at Milton of Tulliemet Farm, near Ballinluig, Perthshire at the beginning of August, then led the 15-strong Scottish Team in Northern Ireland in September. He has and now been given the honour of judging the North Country Cheviot Hill Sheep at the Royal Highland Show in 2011. Scott farms 1200 North Country Cheviot ewes on ‘a unit comprising of various crofts and holdings and on Inverbroom Estate.’ He works in conjunction with his young nephew Gavin, who runs the neighbouring 700 strong Clachan flock. They specialize in breeding North

Country Hill Cheviot rams and sell them as two-shears throughout the Highlands; at Dingwall and Highland Marts Ltd, where Scott is a director, at Lairg, Portree and Fort William. For the past four years the Renwicks have also been breeding Luing cattle, buying in foundation stock from Bill Millar, Wellbeck Estate and from Steven and Elaine Murray, Rockcliffe Castle Douglas. They sold at Castle Douglas for the first time earlier this year.

Carole Ingram

C

arole Ingram, who farms with her husband Willaim and family, Gregor (21), Bruce (18) and Amy (13) at Logie Durno, near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, will be placing the Charollais sheep at the Highland Show next year.

The couple, who have had success in both pedigree Texel and Charollais rings have used genetics from both flocks to produce a more advanced terminal sire –a winning combination – the Durno Hybrids.

Ifan Lloyd, Glenbryn, Swansea Scotch Mule William Sanderson, Blackshiels Farm, Pathhead Shetland James Nicolson, Lonabrek, Shetland Suffolk Kenneth J Mair, Kinneslea, Turriff Swaledale David Hall, The Raw, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Texel Steven Smith, Penybryan, Welshpool Zwartbles Peter Coombs, Three Tuns Farm, near Bath

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Jo St


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RHS

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

BEEF CATTLE JUDGES Overall Beef Cattle & Inter-Breed Team Championships John Wight, Rowangreen, Biggar Beef Native Inter-Breed Team Championship Richard Thomson, Speyview, Lagganbridge Beefbreeder and Junior Beef Inter-Breed Arwel Owen, Tynewydd, Welshpool Beef Pairs Billy MacPherson, Blackford Farm, Croy Aberdeen Angus

Highland Judges 2011

J McEnroe, Liss House, Co Meath Beef Shorthorn Stuart Durno, Uppermill, Tarves Belted Galloway John Corrie, Park House, Kirkcudbright British Blonde James Frame, Little Galla Farm, Biggar John Douglas, Mains of Airies, Stranraer British Blue Danny Wyllie, Pessall Farm, near TamworthDursley, British Charolais Ian Campbell, Thrunton Farm, Alnwick

For the past eleven years the Ingrams have held a ram sale on farm at Logie Durno in August. The sheep for sale are totally undressed, have not been fed concentrates or been pushed in any way. “We have had wonderful feedback from people that the rams gain condition after they are bought and maintain it right through tupping,” enthused Carole. The rams are grouped in pens of four or five and Carole has Topline chart boards displaying each sire’s figures and traits. The couple price each ram prior to sale, according to their Signet reading and appearance. Generally the higher the index the better the price. The top pen is valued around £550 and it is £25 or £50 down for each pen. “Our aim has been to make this sale time efficient, farmer friendly and low stress and usually wraps up in a couple of hours,” said Carole, who works on farm with the 1150 strong flock somehow finds time to paint sheep as well! (top left)

DAIRY CATTLE JUDGES

Billy MacPherson

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ollowing a glittering career with Simmental Cattle and Blackface sheep, both in the show and sale ring, Billy MacPherson will judge the Beef Pairs at the 2011 Royal Highland Show. He is already one of very few people who have judged at all of the Royal Shows.

Since starting with Simmentals at Blackford, Croy, Inverness, in 1977, Billy and his daughter Anne, who has also judged at the RHShow in the past, built the Blackford herd into one of the best known and most renowned herds in the UK. A string of outstanding Blackford bulls have bred successfully throughout the country both in Pedigree and commercial herds. In 2009 Billy and wife Judy decided to give up the tenancy of the 200 acre unit at Little Dalcross and the majority of the Blackford herd moved to NFU President, Jim McLaren's Dargill Farm near Crieff. The first bull, who arrived at Dargill with his mother, Blackford Worzel II, sold for Dargill at Stirling the following spring for 20,000gns. Billy and Judy retained 12 of their older cows to remain with the 650 Blackies which the family also run at Croy.

British Limousin William Cowx, Hudscales, Wigton British Simmental Robin Boyd, Slievenagh Farm, Co Antrim Commercial Cattle Alister Vance, Bridgehouse Farm, Newton Stewart Galloway Robert McTurk, Glenhowl, Dalry Hereford Richard Mann, Hill Farm, Leamington Spa Highland Andrew Cameron, Culduthel, Inverness Salers Graham Fishlock, Middle Cottage, Wareham

Inter-breed Championship, Junior Inter-Breed Championship and Progeny Group Competitions John Gribbon, Dale House Barn, Carnforth Ayrshire P Berresford, Dale Head Farm, near Buxton Holstein E Griffiths, Gunthwaite Hall Farm, Sheffield

John Douglas, Mains of Airies, Jersey Stranraer E Morgan, Nantbwla, Dyfed Dairy Shorthorn

S V Thomas, Drysgolgoch, Llanfyrnach Dairy Calf and Showmanship

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

ANIMAL HEALTH

by Kate Turner-Haig Biobest

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s mentioned in our article last month, the launch of the Scottish Government programme to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) means that it is now essential for anyone involved with the cattle industry in Scotland to get to grips with this infection. Speaking recently, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochead, estimated that ridding Scotland of this disease would be worth £16,000 per year to the average dairy business. BVD is currently present in up to 40% of herds in Scotland and can cause abortion, infertility, failure to thrive and susceptibility to other infections. To develop an effective strategy to eradicate BVD from a herd it is

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necessary to understand the effects of the infection and the different diagnostic tests available to detect it. The key to understanding BVD is an appreciation of the effect of the virus on an animal's immune response. In initial infection the virus can depress the immune response thus making the animal more prone to other diseases. It can be a significant factor increasing the severity of calf pneumonia or scour. However, provided it does not succumb to these other infections and die, an animal that has experienced BVD will mount an antibody response, rid itself of the virus and become immune to reinfection. An interesting characteristic of the antibody

response to BVD is that it tends to be very long-lasting. Diagnostic testing will still detect significant levels of antibody in samples taken years after an animal has cleared the infection. As far as reinfection is concerned these animals are safe and in an analogy to traffic lights are sometimes described as “Green”. In a pregnant animal the interaction of the virus with the developing immune response of the foetus is the key to a particular characteristic of BVD. Infection during early pregnancy may result in abortion but can result in the birth of a persistently infected (PI) calf. Such a calf never mounts an effective antibody response and will continue to shed virus throughout its life, infecting others around it. Although many of these PI calves appear stunted and frequently succumb to other infections or to mucosal disease, a severe from of BVD, they can sometimes live for a number of years appearing quite normal. The production of PI calves is a key factor in the continuing presence of the disease in a herd. To eradicate BVD from a herd it is necessary to detect any PI animals present and remove them to slaughter. After the removal of a PI it is essential to continue to test any calves subsequently born for PI status over the next year. The diagnostic tests that can be used in the detection and eradication of BVD can be divided into two groups: those that detect the antibody response to the virus and those that detect the presence of the virus itself. Antibody tests are a cost-effective method of assessing evidence of past exposure and can be carried out on blood or milk samples. Tests that detect the virus are used to identify PI animals so that they can be removed. In the dairy herd, the option to test a bulk milk sample for antibody is a cheap and simple first step for assessing the herd's status. If the test shows negative or very low levels of antibody it is unlikely that herd has an active BVD problem. If the bulk milk antibody level is high it suggests that many of the cows contributing to the tank have been exposed at some time during their lives. Interestingly, the levels of antibody seen in vaccinated

animals, as opposed to those that have experienced the actual infection, are often much lower and tend not to be long-standing. Hence a vaccinated herd is unlikely to have a very high bulk milk antibody unless infection has also been active at some point. Where there is a high antibody level in the bulk tank but a bulk sample from first lactation animals is low, this would suggest that infection has been present in the herd in the past but has not been active recently. Testing of individual animals for antibody can be done on blood or milk samples and can be useful for various reasons, depending on circumstances. An animal with little or no antibody may need to be tested for virus to check it is not a PI. An animal with a high antibody level will not be a PI and it will be resistant to reinfection. However, if it is a pregnant female, and has experienced infection recently, it will be at risk of giving birth to a PI; and in a bull, virus can be secreted in semen for up to 10 weeks after exposure. There are a number of different techniques routinely used to test for the presence of BVD virus. The ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is a relatively inexpensive test can be used on individual bloods or samples of tissue. Collecting pliers are available that allow a small sample of ear tissue to be collected and sealed in a sample pot at the same time as a tag is inserted in the ear. This system is of particular use for testing calves for PI status as early as possible after birth. An alternative virus detection test is the PCR (polymerase chain reaction). While more expensive than the ELISA, it can be used on bulk milk or pooled serum samples and can identify whether further investigation to find a PI in a group of animals is required. It is also more accurate when used on an individual blood sample taken early in life, when high levels of maternal antibody can interfere with the ELISA. Your practice veterinary surgeon can help you identify the best options for investigating the BVD situation on your farm, and advice on the most suitable tests to use is available from testing laboratories.


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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

YOUNG FARMERS

“BIG” Opportunity for Cattle and Sheep Farmers by Stephen Doran QMS

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MS is launching a £600,000 new initiative for beef and sheep farmers with a hunger to improve and grow their businesses. During the next few months 22 Business Improvement Groups (BIG) will be set up across Scotland allowing around 350 livestock farmers to join a local group involving up to 18 businesses. The groups will harness financial baseline monitoring and benchmarking figures to improve members’ competitive performance as well as allowing producers to investigate opportunities to collaborate and exchange information. Progressive commercial livestock farmers are being invited to take part in the inaugural groups. These farmers will have a willingness to be open and honest with group members as well as being committed to taking an active role over the three year term of the group. The project will be managed by QMS with funding from Scottish Government through the Skills Development Scheme. There will be an annual membership fee to cover meeting costs. According to Peter Beattie, QMS Technical Projects Manager, the sharp focus of the project will be business improvement of livestock enterprises. “Many participants will already be excellent technical operators who are involved in livestock or machinery groups” said Mr Beattie. “What the Business Improvement Groups will do is give a rare opportunity to look at how a farm functions as a business. “Group members will have a wide range of skills and experience in running their businesses and we anticipate a minority will have some formal business qualifications. The facilitators’ role will be to channel group members’ experiences, knowledge and enthusiasm for the benefit of all the members.”

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This project will be managed by QMS with funding from Scottish Government through the Skills Development Scheme. Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish Government is delighted to support this important initiative with over £380,000 funding from the Skills Development Scheme. “Part of the Scotland Rural Development Programme, the Skills Development Scheme was set up in 2008 to help improve land managers’ business and countryside management skills. The Scheme has provided over £2.2m of funding for a range of industry-led projects, helping to support the future economic development of farming.” Business Improvement Groups will be set up in four regions and further information is available from the regional leaders listed below. Information and application forms are also available by visiting www.qmscotland.co.uk/big BIG regional leaders: North Region (Highland, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles) – George A Baikie, tel: 01856 872698 or e-mail: George.Baikie@sac.co.uk North East Region (Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee, Moray and Perth and Kinross) – Peter Cook; 01467 623222 or cooknewton@btopenworld.com South West Region (Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Dumbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Stirling, South Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire) – Colin MacPhail, 01786 450964/ colin.macphail@sac.co.uk South East Region (East Lothian, Edinburgh, Fife, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, Scottish Borders, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian) – Matthew Currie on 01387 274381 / matthew.currie@smithsgore.co.uk


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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

DAIRY

Cream of the Crop

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lderston Farming has been listed in the Top Twenty recorded dairy herds in the country, in the Agriscot, World Wide Sires Dairy Herd of the Year competition, for a second year running. Last year the East Lothain based Hastie family and their Jersey herd made the short leet of four. Using the same format as the inaugural competition last year, The Top Twenty were selected by judge, George Jamieson, NFU Dairy Specialist, from the 650 CIS recorded herds across Scotland. The criteria included: calving index, somatic cell count, milk quality, milk yield to match the management system and breed, the PLI (Profitable Lifetime Index) and longevity. Back in 1958, when Gordon Hastie’s father moved to Alderston Mains from a smaller local farm there were 72 dairy herds in East Lothian. Now Gordon and his wife Vivian, who farm with their two younger sons, David (30) and Andrew (24) are only one of two dairying families in the region.

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“In 1960 my father got the chance to produce bottled Jersey milk for Edinburgh, from 40 cows in a byre. The bottled market continued till 1983 when it became compulsory to pasteurise milk in Scotland, although raw milk can still be sold in England,” shared Gordon, who ran about 100 cows for many years, employing a full time dairyman. The now 220 strong Jersey herd’s milk heads for Grahams Dairies at Bridge of Allan every second day, selling under contract to the Channel Island Gold Top brand. “Gold Top is owned by the Jersey and Guernsey cattle societies, developed many years ago and franchised out,” explained Gordon as we sat round the kitchen table in brilliant sunshine. “I saw it in Tesco yesterday, it is in all the main supermarkets,” commented Andrew, who recently graduated in Agriculture from Edinburgh. His brother David studied Agriculture at Newcastle, while older twins Tia and Sandy own a Veterinary practice in Maybole and practice law respectively. “When David came home we put in a 140 cow capacity cubicle shed

with mattresses and automatic scrapers and bought in heifers from Denmark, budgeting on 200 cows. We are now milking 220 with the current accommodation. The dry cows are housed loose on straw, ” informed Gordon. A new Dairymaster 24/48 swing over parlour was installed four years ago when Andrew returned from University. Being located in an arable area with few dairy amenities has its drawbacks as a chap has to travel from Lockerbie to service the parlour and the nearest dairy supplier outlet is MacCaskies at Stirling, whose van calls once a month. Contractors also have to be sourced from out with East Lothian – silage contractors come in from the Borders and an umbilical cord slurry operator travels over from Lanarkshire. Another negative is that there are no dairy neighbours to discuss matters with and compare notes! “It’s just when you need something small that it can be a pain that we are so far from a dairy supplier,” commented David. “MacCaskies are good at posting out to us so we don’t

have to travel to Stirling too often.” The younger farmers also tend to use the internet as a tool for sourcing items. “We have a shopping list of what we would like to invest in,” smiled David, “a silage pit, dry cow accommodation.....but as we are in an NVZ area we had to increase our slurry capacity last year to ensure 22 weeks storage. A second 1.2M litre circular tank just wasn’t on our list!” Another new investment has been a Lely automatic calf feeder, which arrived in June and has freed up Vivian’s time no end. The calves wear numbered transponder collars, which enable the feeder to allocate the correct amount of milk to each animal. Calves can be weaned over a longer period of time. With both boys home to farm, David is in charge of the feeding and rationing programs, while Andrew is keen on the genetics and computing side of the business. “We have structured the feeding program round our own grain this year as cereal prices were so low last year,” shared David. “Typically the price has gone up and we have no cereals to sell, but


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FARM DETAILS it usually means that everything else goes up too, so we will have less expenditure.” Previously the Hasties used an SAC advisor to help with rationing but since January David has taken it on. “We use a Keenan PACE System, which works on feed conversion efficiency.” (see article on page 14) David’s magic potion includes Belhaven Brewers Grains, molasses, soya, rape meal, beet pulp and maize dark grains as well as wholecrop. Next year the Hasties plan to cut their Italian Ryegrass in May, apply slurry and plant maize.

Farmers: Alderston Farming Gordon & Vivian Hastie & sons David & Andrew Farming: Alderston Mains Location: Haddington, East Lothian Area:

400 acres owned, some rented fields

Stock:

250 Jersey cows 99 Jersey followers a few beef crosses

Crops:

160 acres cereals mostly used as wholecrop lucerne

Other:

A field is rented out for horses Planning granted for a wind turbine

“We saw it done at the SAC Critchton at Scotgrass and were suitably impressed. There was so much more grass in the Italian Ryegrass plot than there was in the Perennial one,” said Gordon. With two eager young farmers technology is being embraced on this East Lothain property and Andrew’s latest gadget is a Palm top computer and he is updating the whole system. David, who spent a year in Australia, and ended up milking in the Adelaide Hills came home with a few ideas. “We have used Estrotect for the last two summers, it is an economical, simple to use, effective heat detection aid. It sticks onto the cows and comes in flourescent colours. We sourced it online from Molevalley Farmers.” At the moment all the heifers are out wintered on kale. “The cattle preform well outside and it is a cost effective way of rearing them,” said Gordon. “But we can’t catch and handle them outside, which is a drawback for for AI, as I would like to use more sexed semen, so a bull is run with them,” added Andrew. He and his father AI all the cows, using polled American and Danish

genetics. Eclipse, Freedom, All Star and Zuma are the names to the fore. “We start at the top PLI bulls and work down looking for a suitable type for us. We look for cows that last longer although we have a relatively young herd as we’ve been expanding, We have 6% over six lactations as we’ve had a low cull rate for a number of years.” They obviously have the breeding down to a fine art as Alderston Mains currently has five or six of the top ten heifers in the country and three of the top five cows. They also had the top Jersey herd in Scotland title for 17 years in a row! As with most dairy farmers across the country, the main issue affecting the Hasties is the milk price. “Grahams are usually at the top so we are happy where we are, but 3p more per litre would be so much more comfortable to make the investments. By world price indicators the price should have gone up this year,” concluded Gordon. Planning permission has been granted to erect a 50KW Endurance wind turbine at Alderston Mains, but the family are waiting for the ruling in feed in tarriffs.

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DeLaval to Debut at Euro Tier E

nter ‘DeLaval AMR’ into any Internet search engine it will come up with the same press release in a multitude of languages – but no further information is forth coming. On September 14th, DeLaval announced the introduction of the world’s first ever automatic milking rotary, or DeLaval AMR™ as this new system will be known in the industry, from their headquarters in Sweden. But like the Secret Service they have managed to keep full details of the innovation under wraps and intend on doing so until it makes its debut at the Euro Tier in Hanover from 16 19th November and in Camden, Australia. DeLaval have been one of the market leaders selling over 6000 VMS – Voluntary Milking Systems – globally and the DeLaval automatic milking rotary AMR™ is the next technological advance, targeted at owners of larger herds, significantly reducing labour costs The revolutionary system has been developed by DeLaval in collaboration

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with Australia's FutureDairy project –a research program to help Australia's dairy farmers manage the challenges they are likely to face during the next 20 years. The challenges are expected to be related to: • The availability and cost of land and water resources • The availability and cost of labour and associated lifestyle issues FutureDairy is a strategic investment on the industry’s behalf, to improve lifestyle and productivity in the long term. FutreDairy started in 2004, exploring opportunities for productivity gains by substantially increasing forage and feed production and utilisation on farm and technological innovations with the potential greatest impact on farmers' lifestyle labour management. The AMR system, which combines automatic milk cup connection with a rotary platform, will be a revolutionary automatic milking solution which is flexible enough to operate in different farming practices, from free stalls and loose housing to pasture based dairying.

According to Rosengren, as an industry leader DeLaval has identified the different customer needs for automatic milking and is growing in line with them. “The DeLaval AMR™ welcomes many more dairy farmers around the world into the benefits of automatic milking.” The DeLaval AMR™ is set to push the frontiers of Smart Farming. The company’s goal is to accelerate the transition from milking management to global farm profitability management by harnessing emerging decision tools and automation technologies for better quality milk and profits. Until the launch, DeLaval refuse to let slip the cost installing an AMR, but stress that it is targeted at larger dairy herds. It makes one wonder if the price tag is astronomical? Like the VMS, no one has to be present 24/7 but a phone call will alert the owner/ farmer of any problems, therefore dramatically reducing labour costs. The dairy world waits with bated breath!

“In December 2008 we said that we were developing an automated milking system for large herds and now we are ready to show it to the world,” said DeLaval President and CEO, Joakim Rosengren.


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farmingscotland

BEEF

Issue seventy-one • November 2010

Keenan beef study shaves off 65 days-to-slaughter

by Jane Craigie

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recent series of beef farm studies by Keenan have showed that full implementation of the Keenan System can boost beef finisher margins by an average of 35p/head per day through consistent delivery of what the company describes as 'Mech Fiber'. Put simply, MechFiber is the construction and delivery of a well mixed ration that provides a balanced mix of physical fibre and nutrients. On the 14 participating UK farms using the Keenan System, producers finishing steers averaged 242 days to slaughter compared with the industry average of 307 days*. The performance improvements stem from a reduced overall lifetime feed cost per finisher of £65/head to £278/finished animal, a 23% improvement in Feed Conversion Efficiency (FCE) and an average daily liveweight gain of 1.42kg versus the 1.12kg UK average*. The farm studies also recorded: o An average 12% improvement in daily gain from 1.23 to 1.40kg/head/day o No major changes in overall feed intake o A significant improvement in FCE from 115 to 130g gain/kg feed dry matter (DM) o A daily margin gain of 35p/head

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eenan Systems has developed a way of measuring and improving FCE. Known as Performance Acceleration and Control Enhancement or PACE, it provides a unique wagon loading and mixing control system for the production of consistent rations that deliver the required amount of Mech Fiber to optimise rumen function. The PACE system was awarded first prize by the Royal Welsh Show 2010 in the Dr Alban Davies Award for new technology. Unlike milk production, beef does not have a daily output on which the efficiency of feed conversion can be measured. But all Keenan farmers using PACE have access to a specially designed machine-mounted model which predicts animal growth according to age, gender, breed and the ration being fed. This allows FCE management, the measurement of total feed costs and estimation of total feed costs/kg gain.

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equivalent to a net improvement of 20.1p on every kg weight gain achieved o A marginal reduction in feed costs (£/tonne DM) “These farm results will give valuable information for beef farmers looking to drive a step-change in their beef enterprise profitability and returns,” explains Seth Wareing of Keenan Rumans. The farm data The data behind these findings were collected on the 14 participating farms using the company's PACE rationing system (Performance Acceleration and Control Enhancement) fitted on the farmers' Keenan mixer wagons. The PACE system is cited “as an essential tool” for driving performance by the farmers involved, and in recognition of its practical value to farmers, PACE won first prize in the Dr Alban Davies Award for new technology at the 2010 Royal Welsh Show. Adding to the Keenan service for beef farmers, Professor David Beever has worked with the team to develop a comprehensive beef-specific rationing service which is bespoke to each farm. He says: “The rationing service, included as an ongoing service when a farmer buys PACE, enables farmers to utilise whatever

home-grown and locally sourced feeds are available, which has the added benefit of controlling feed costs per tonne DM. The rations are tailored according to whether you are feeding weaned calves, suckler cows and their calves, growing cattle or finishers.” For a copy of Keenan's beef technical guide which includes full details of these results, contact Max Ford at Keenan 07860 830211 or download the beef technical advisory booklet from www.keenansystem.co.uk Highlighted panel John and Tom Henderson, Cromarty The Hendersons are arable and beef farmers on the Black Isle; they also run the Cromarty Ferry. Their focus is finishing steers and heifers bought from Dingwall Mart, of which John is a board member. Cattle spend no more than 8-10 months on the farm. Steers are finished at weights up to 670kg and heifers up to 580kg and cattle are sold in batches of six to seven beasts all year round for the live market at Dingwall. The Hendersons bought a Keenan as part of capital expenditure including a new shed to improve efficiency of cattle production as well as recording. They introduced the Keenan PACE Ration Management System in June 2010 and Tom

Henderson says that it is more than paying for itself already. “PACE has helped us improve daily liveweight gains by 0.15kg/day which equates to 30 days fewer to slaughter.” Daily feed costs average 71p/day and feed conversion efficiency has improved by 14% which has resulted in an additional average daily margin gain of 23p. Over the finishing period this equates to £50/head better return compared with the Keenan wagon without PACE. “Gone are the days of throwing a bucket of feed in front of cattle and hoping for the best, margins are too tight now and feeding cattle correctly makes all the difference to our business,” father John explains. “This level of accuracy means finishing cattle is more cost effective despite the tight margins.” He adds: “Other farmers are selling cattle through the ring for the same price as us but keeping them for 7 months longer; whether you calculated your feed costs at 50p or £1/day that extra time on farm equates to 210 days more feed which is a lot of money whatever way you look at it.” Tom puts the returns from the Keenan PACE system into economic context; “PACE costs us £5/day, but it makes us £34/day.”


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farmingscotland

BEEF

Issue seventy-one • November 2010

Synchronised AI as a Management Tool by Fiona Sloan

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ith fewer people working in the beef industry and ultimately fewer hands available at calving time, an increasing number of beef farmers are turning to Synchronised AI as a management tool for commercial herds. “The reduction of staff on farm is the most disappointing change in the agricultural industry that I've seen over the past 20 years.” reflects Stevie Rolfe, who runs his own Synchronised AI business – SR Cattle Services. Not so long ago, the thought of artificially inseminating a commercial suckler herd would have been seen as fairly radical. But with a reduction in the National Suckler Herd and a premium to be had for top end finishing cattle, it has become even more important to ensure that quality and uniformity are maximised to the optimum time for sale. With more people moving towards spring calving, to utilise as much grass as possible throughout the summer, increased fertility and a tight calving period are essential. Taking into account the cost involved in buying quality stock bulls and the prospects of overwintering, AI allows farmers, who are producing replacement females and finishing cattle to use a bull they could not otherwise afford. New bulls can be trialled without the capital outlay for animals which ultimately may not suit their herd. While it is not feasible for everyone to work within a system like this, it is helpful for those mixed farms, where the suckler herd has to run alongside other enterprises, where

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time is at a premium, such as sowing or harvest. This was the challenge which Johnny McCrirrick faced following a long shut down period through foot and mouth. “Being unable to bring a bull onto the farm for some time really messed up our calving period and made us think about the alternatives,” said Johnny. “Following FMD, we decided to move to a closed herd and the best way to do this was to breed our own replacements and continue with Synchronised AI, which we had already been using for 5 years prior to 2001.” This not only allowed the herd to sustain its health status under the SAC Premium Health Scheme but also tightened up the calving period and geared production towards top quality finishing cattle by enabling a choice of bulls, which had good maternal traits but also had substantial growth potential. The 80 strong suckler herd was initially a mix of many different crossbred cattle but in the ten years since the herd was closed the cows have been geared towards Angus, Limousin and British Blue crosses by using the bulls on a three year rotation. “As well has having quality finishing cattle to sell, all of which go through Border Livestock Exchange, we have increased our herd health status and with the use of AI in particular, we are in our 5th year of accreditation for Johnes disease and have no PIs for BVD.” Now that the cows are in place, the farm is concentrating on the

finishing animals more and this year has for the first time used the Norbreck Genetics British Blue bull, Bluegrass Cyclone. This sire is a Bringlee Waldo son out of the highly successful Ridge Dean Another Bluey. He is one of the top 10 EBV sires in the breed today with all growth, carcase and weight traits in the top 1% of the breed. “We are now seeing the first Cyclone calves on the ground and are delighted with them, says Johnny. The previous Blue bull, which we used was Tamhorn Sumo, Cyclone's grandfather and we wanted to continue with the same genetics.” “The first Sumo daughters in the herd are now calving to the Limousin Killerton Travis and the Aberdeen Angus, Blackhaugh Time with excellent results.” adds Stevie. “Sumo is easily one of the most successful bulls I have ever used.” “Before using the three bull system, we would buy in 3 groups of 50 calves from dairy herds, continues Johnny and we were always concerned at bringing in cattle from different sources. Synchronised AI has allowed us to move the herd on to a point where it is productive and easy to manage and the cost of the procedure is easily justified in the savings in time, both in man hours and finishing and in improved pregnancy rates and calf losses.” On a typical programme, the CIDRS, which are vaginal progesterone implants, are put in by the vet on Day 1. Seven days later, the vet then injects the cows with Prostaglandin, which helps control the

ovulation and two days later the CIDRS are removed by the farmer, washed, cleaned and dried and retained for reinserting 16 days after AI. “The cows are AI'd 48 hours and 72 hours after the CIDRS are removed. Five days after the CIDRS are inserted for the second time, they are removed and the cows are all tail painted. Those showing in season will have the tail paint rubbed off then be re- inseminated.” Since leaving Genus, as one of their AI technicians and setting up on his own, Stevie now scans around 50,000 cattle per year putting 65,000 miles a year on his car. “From the time I sit down with the farmers in early Spring, to plan and organise the Synchronisation programme for the coming year, I can expect to AI up to 400 cattle in a day!” he smiles. “The most important thing for the farmer is to be able to choose a good quality bull, which calves reasonably easily and he should be confident with the result both for the cow and the calf. Good planning is the key!” From a time when the Dairy Industry and pedigree breeders were most likely to be the champions of AI in cattle, the pressure of diversification and fewer staff has meant that many suckler herds are considering Synchronised AI as a serious tool to enable better management of their herds. It allows them to easily choose one or more bulls on growth and or maternal traits; helps ensure tighter calving periods, better quality and more uniform calves and ultimately better returns.


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ANGUS Kay Adam - New House of Glamis

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ell what happened to the summer? It’s been a while since you’ve had an update from me so here’s the latest news from Newhouse of Glamis. We’ve just got back from Stirling after a few days at the bull sales. We only had Heifers to sell at this sale; all the bulls had been sold off the farm during the summer, which turned out to have been quite a good move as bulls were just a wee bit harder to find homes for. The heifers, 3 Limousins and 6 Charolais all found new homes and hopefully will all go on to be good breeders. We’ll hear about it if they don’t, as my sister and brother in law bought two Charolais for their newly founded Benhar herd. What do they say never deal with family….this could be pay back for the ferrets she bought the boys! The Bluefaced Leicester’s lambed very well at 260% and the boys had some fun at the summer shows, with the big competition being at Perth Show which they were champion and reserve with home bred ewes. One of

the highlights of the summer for Andrew was taking part in the new sheep young handler’s competition at the Highland Show when he was placed second behind his fellow Blue faced Leicester pal John Graham from Burnbank. This reign didn’t last long …as James then won the Perth show young handlers and Andrew was second! We sold the tup lambs at Forfar and Stirling last month to our best ever average of £412 for 12 lambs so the boys were well chuffed and we now have some Glamis tups in Orkney and Tiree so thanks to all our customers, the money is in the bank. James does think a gator would be a great new toy…NO WAY! We have a new shed at Newhouse thanks to Bobs,’ ‘Things he must do before he’s 40’….. Yes, apply for an SRDP grant. The covered silage pit was completed just in time, and was filled using a local contractor with a silage wagon. Our inexperience in rolling this bouncy silage was obvious when the forklift sank a few times but

thanks to our very helpful neighbor George who kept us right on all things silage making we now have some lovely stuff, which I’m sure the cows are enjoying consuming and best of all no more black plastic. Harvest went well, a few wet days did mean some straw had to be turned but we managed to get it all baled in good nick, and the grain made all the contracts. My tractor driving skills again have been put to the test this harvest, and keeping up with the combine in the oats proved to be quite an adrenalin rush for me!! It was fine speeding along the road until I hit a pot hole and just about ended up through the sun roof! The moles were quick on the go in the stubbles giving James and his pal Robbie a project with over 20 moles trapped in the month of September. Finally I would like to just pass on

my congratulations to my second cousin Stuart Fotheringham of Ballinloan Farm at Dunkeld he’s a well know character in the farming world and has at last got engaged to Doc Gillian, so if anyone would be interested in taking part in his blackening please save up your suitable products and get in touch!! I feel this could run into a 3 or 4 day event, as so many people have stated interest in taking part. I did hear that Easy Jet were considering putting on a special flight in order for all his Irish friends to take part….. Well that’s the cows and calves inside, the bull pen’s filled up again with the next batch for February, the wheat and winter barley in the ground, the Blue ewes to the tup and all the fattening sheep down from the glen, let’s just hope we have a kinder winter than last year….

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016444 60644 www.skye-shepherdscottage.com

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An excerpt from A Life on the Land by Ian Duncan, who was born and brought up in Northern Ireland and came to farm in Scotland. His memoirs make interesting reading and his book will be available in shops soon.

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n the very early 1930s , as a young boy I liked to sit in the kitchen with my father and listen to him and neighbours talking about farming. The reason they sat in the kitchen was the big black coal and log cooker kept them warm, and it was quiet as my brothers and sisters played in the sitting room, while mother helped some of them with school homework and refereed any squabbles. The most interesting conversation I heard lasted for a week. The first night the chairman of the Farmer's Union was in. The next night there were three farmers in and by the end of the week there were about five or six. The first night they talked about the poor price they were getting for their milk from the Belfast Dairies. The Farmers Union chairman wanted to call a Union meeting and get the buyers and owners of the milk dairies to attend and meet as many milk producers as possible, and explain that the price set by them was less than the cost of production. My father was a little militant and in a forceful way told them, “You are wasting your time. Stop sending supplies of Milk.” Someone said, “You know that would not work – farmers never stick together for any cause.” The next suggestion was, “Call a Union meeting and tell all milk producers that they are being asked to pour their milk down the drain, or if they liked they could make butter out of it and feed pigs calves or pigs.” At the meeting most agreed to stop supplies to all Belfast Dairies, and the others were forced to agree, by threats that if they left their milk churn out for collection it might meet with an accident. After three days some of the Dairy owners slipped out into the country and called on different farms, and offered them a very high price, if they could arrange a load of milk for very early the next morning. Herbie Boyd, who had a milk collection lorry was approached to collect the milk in the middle of the night, and deliver it to Belfast. He was reluctant to do it, but when a big carrot was put in front of his nose, he agreed, and thought no one would know. Little did he know that disaster was to strike him. One of the farmers that was asked for milk and refused to give it, reported the matter to others who were holding their supplies. They agreed that the lorry load of milk would never be on a Belfast

breakfast table. They got two horses and two carts, took them to Claudy Corner and stood and waited. All was quiet. They thought the milk had got

six cans all six would be emptied into the vat and the weight recorded. The farmer was paid for his milk at the end of each month, so he got 12

through and it was still only 5.30am. Then there was a slight rumble of a lorry, that had just changed gear to come up the hill. When going to Belfast there is a hill to climb, and then you can almost free wheel down into the city. There were no milk tankers back then. All had to be man handled about four times before the milk reached the dairies. The milk cans when they were full were taken to a collection point, mostly the end of farm roads. Then they would have to be lifted on to the lorry for transport to Belfast, lifted off, and the contents emptied out into a big vat with a weighbridge attached. If a farmer had

payments each year. When the noise of the lorry in the dust of the morning neared the farmers, with their horses and carts, they reversed their carts across the road, thinking that Herbie Boyd the driver would stop. Then they could empty out all the milk. Herbie taking fright that he might get a good beating, put his foot down hard on the accelerator and drove straight through the middle of the two carts turning them into match wood. But one of the wheels got caught on his lorry and the lorry fell on its side, spilling out over one thousand gallons of milk. The next morning the paper - The

Belfast Telegraph's front page news, read in big print “THRILLS AND SPILLS AT CLAUDY CORNER!!” And an article about farmers being treated very unfairly and the poor prices they were getting for their milk and how much more the housewife had to pay for it. The Dairy owners were still very keen to get supplies for their customers especially for young children. It was agreed a very small supply would be let through, but then disagreed, but the need of money made some farmers take supplies into the city under loads of hay, or leave it at the lane end covered with bushes for collection in the middle of the night. At these meetings in our kitchen it was discussed that so and so was taking his in under a load of hay, and someone else was taking it out at bedtime to be collected and he could have his empty churns collected before anyone was out of bed. All the different methods were discussed and it was agreed that any milk producer whose milk churns were found anywhere but on his farm premises, would get the hatchet put through them. The first night six farmers had their churns destroyed. No one ever knew by whom and each night after that if you were a traitor to the cause, your churns were in very great danger of meeting with an accident. The milk war spread to all districts and Belfast had a very small supply of milk. The Dairies agreed they could not carry on, as they could see the farmers were putting up a good fight and were starting to get sympathy from the general public. A meeting was called between the Belfast Dairies and the farmers that produced milk. Both buyers and sellers sat down together, and agreed a fair price for both sides. The sad thing about this milk war was that some families stopped speaking to each other because they blamed them for damaging their churns, and emptying out their milk, but I am sure when they look back on the hardship everyone suffered, they will forgive them for their angry actions. A few years after the milk war, every milk producer seemed to be prospering. Byres were being repaired, and a few new and larger ones had been built and as a butter factory was built more milk was needed.

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NEWS

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cotland’s most progressive farmer-owned co-operative, ANM Group Ltd., has made several new business appointments. Keith McCall has joined as Finance Director, based at the ANM Group headquarters at Thainstone, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. Keith, 50, was formerly Finance Director at a number of Vion/ Grampian Country Food Groups over

the last nine years. Prior to that, he was the Managing Director and Group Finance Director of Dawson Fabrics Ltd., in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Malcolm Morrison has moved to ANM to become General Manager of Charcuterie Continental at Twechar in East Dunbartonshire, near Glasgow. The firm supplies top class cooked meats to blue chip companies across the UK. Malcolm, 45, has joined from the Clydesdale Bank, where he was the Senior Partner in Integrated Financial Solutions in Dumfries. He has extensive experience in the farming and meat industries, having worked for firms such as Smiths Gore, Yara UK, Meating Point and the NFUS. The former General Manager of Charcuterie Continental, George Watson, has been appointed to a new research and development role within the group.

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AO has begun a large-scale distribution of wheat seeds in Pakistan that will benefit well over half a million farming families or nearly five million people. The distributions will mean that for these people the current Rabi planting season that ends in December will take place despite the devastation caused by the worst flooding the country has ever known. Making seeds available to vulnerable farming families is crucial because an estimated 500 000 to 600 000 tonnes of wheat seeds were washed away or ruined by the floods The food security of tens of millions of Pakistanis is at stake with the current planting season. The next harvest for wheat will not be until spring 2012. FAO is also providing beneficiaries with vegetable seeds and fertilizer "Wheat is the main staple of the Pakistani diet so it is of vital importance that farmers receive seeds in time. I am happy to say that thanks to the generous and timely response of donors, we are in good shape to salvage the Rabi season for millions of people," said Luigi Damiani, FAO Senior Official leading the Organization's efforts in Pakistan. FAO's intervention in Pakistan has so far received $67.44 million in donor support within the framework of the Revised Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan, out of a total funding requirement of $107 million. Thanks to the contributions of the United States of America ($46M),

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

Bob Dow has been appointed Group Communications Manager and will be responsible for the external and internal communications of all the ANM companies. Bob, 49 has worked in the Scottish media for 30-years, having began his career as a trainee journalist at Aberdeen Journals. He later worked for national newspapers and was also a media consultant, working in television, new media and communications. Alan Craig, the Chief Executive of ANM Group, welcomed the appointments and said they would help strengthen an already excellent team at ANM. Mr Craig added: “The skills and experience of these people will be of great benefit as the Group moves forward and looks for more innovative ways of working and for new business stream.”

the United Kingdom ($11.06M), Canada ($5.85M), the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission ($2.54M), the Central Emergency Response Fund ($1.79M) and Belgium ($200 000), FAO is able to provide agricultural inputs and other support to over half a million flood-affected households so that they are able to plant wheat during the 2010 Rabi season. In addition, the European Union funded Food Facility in Pakistan reallocated $3.5M to reach additional flood-affected households with wheat, canola and vegetable seeds and fertilizer. Assistance is also being given to an additional 235 000 families to help farmers save livestock by providing food, medicine and shelter for the animals and to almost 15 000 families to rehabilitate or repair small-scale irrigation schemes. FAO procures all its seed in the country. It will distribute the seeds and other inputs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh provinces. As well as input distributions, FAO field offices in Sukkur (Sindh) and Multan (Punjab) are also providing logistical support to humanitarian partners involved in the flood response. More than 80 percent of the victims of the devastating floods live off agriculture, making it a crucial sector for intervention for international assistance. More than 2.4 million hectares of cultivable land was damaged by the torrential waters.

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farmingscotland.com

MACHINERY

Issue seventy-one • November 2010

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n agricultural engineering firm based at Dundonald near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire has been appointed to represent AgriArgo UK's McCormick tractor range in the area after a two-year break from supplying new tractors. Tom Murray and his son John launched the franchise with a working demonstration of tractors and equipment to more than a hundred local farmers. “It was a good way to reintroduce the McCormick range to the area and highlight our return to new tractor sales,” says John Murray. “The initial response has been good – we've already taken a number of orders.” Tom Murray started the business – Thomas Murray Agricultural Engineers – 35 years ago and built a reputation for reliable servicing and repairs of farm machinery on local farms. Agreeing to represent the McCormick tractor range should bring a significant boost to the business. “The range certainly suits our dairying, beef and sheep farming customers in this area very well, providing all the features they'd expect but none of the complicated stuff that a lot of farmers really don't want,” he says. The dealership's first McCormick customer, New Cumnock beef and sheep farmer Hugh Young, has taken delivery of a new 100hp CX110.

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“It's a nice tractor with enough features like power shuttle and a three-speed powershift to make it a pleasure to drive but without being too complicated,” he declares. “The cab suits me very well too; there's good visibility with no side pillars to get the way.” The tractor's typical workload will include silage mowing and carting in summer and feeding stock through the winter months. “The feedback we got from other dealers was very positive and users liked the tractors and found them reliable,” says John Murray. “Also, we were impressed by the people at the McCormick distributor, AgriArgo UK, so decided we should give it a go.” He expects the mid-range 80100hp CX, available with deluxe and low profile cabs, and the 100-130hp four-cylinder MC to be most in demand, along with the new six-cylinder MTX. They will feature in an exhibition of McCormick tractors at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston near Edinburgh on November 17 when Tom and John Murray team up with fellow McCormick dealers in Scotland Hamilton Tractors, Carnwath; John Drysdale & Sons, Kinneswood, Perth; and Fraser C Robb, Drymen for the Agriscot winter farming show.


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MACHINERY

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

by Peter Small

Scottish Ploughing Championships

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he 2010 Scottish Ploughing Championships welcomed a record crowd to Upper Nisbet near Jedburgh, drawn by the inclusion of the 13th European Vintage Championships and the Five Nations Match. Robert Neill and Partners had laid on a superb venue with 250 acres of south facing stubble offering marvellous views of the Cheviot Hills to the South and the Berwickshire coast to the East. The organisers had secured the help of New Holland, Scottish Borders Council, Awards for All and Event Scotland in their quest to raise the profile of this wonderful spectacle. The free draining nature of the soil was put to the test with heavy overnight rain on the eve of the match. Rain was still falling on the Saturday morning when Lord Lothian and local pipers performed the opening ceremony. However the ploughmen braved the rain as they made their way to the plots to make a start. Three classes were part of the European Championships with Trailed, Mounted and Reversible ploughing being carried out by the best ploughmen from the British Isles including the Isle of Man and Continental Europe.

What the Europeans thought of the stones they encountered isn't recorded but it didn't stop Dutchman Bertus Huijbrechts from taking the Reversible Class. Best in the Trailing Class was England’s Mike Watkins and fellow countryman Richard Ingram took the Mounted and Overall titles. Top Scot was John Tait of Gullane who came second in the Reversible Class. There were plenty patriotic flags flying in the Five Nations contest where the combined scores of two days of competition decided the winners who both came from Ireland. In the Reversible section it was Martin Stewart from the North and the Conventional Class saw John Tracey of the Republic winning. Scotland's Gordon Rae was second in the Conventional section. Saturday saw the Mitchell family take both Reversible Butts and General Purpose classes with father Andrew winning the former and son, also Andrew, winning the latter. Also going well on Saturday was Colin Hewetson in the Classic Class, winning both Section A and Overall titles from John McBratney the Section B winner. There were plenty of classic era tractors in the Non Hydraulic Reversible competition, where

Lockerbie's Billy Gordon came out on top. The Multi Furrow Reversible Class was an all local affair bar one entry and it was local lad Craig Connell who won. Horse ploughing always draws a crowd and it was no different here where the five pairs were under constant scrutiny with David Broll and his Percherons Harris and Lewis from Kirkcudbright winning everything in the Horse Section over the two days. Sunday's horse judges had some extra work to do by also judging the High Cut Class boosted by the attendance of two big players from England – John Milnes from Sheffield and Robert Irving of Truro – who two took the first two places. The second day also saw the Plough Offs for the Scottish Championships. The conventional section saw young Andrew Mitchell retain his title after beating second place Ian McDonald by a large twenty five and a half point margin. A much smaller margin was enough to see his father Andrew take back the Reversible title from last year's winner Andy Greenhill by the slimmest 1.5 point difference. On the Sunday the visiting plough men battled it out in a class specially created for the European Vintage

Competitors and it was Wales who triumphed with a win for John Lewis. There were also visitors classes for more modern conventional and reversible ploughs and Chester's Ian Wilson won the Conventional Class while Colin Bowen from Craven Arms triumphed in the Reversible Class. Many entrants had crossed the border in the Juniors section and the silverware was taken back over to Penrith by Mathew Whitehead, second was Deborah Barron of Newcastle one of two ladies ploughing at the Championships. Local Case dealer Rutherford's of Earlston won the demonstrators prize with Richard Carr at the wheel. There is always plenty of vintage action on the Sunday with Mounted and Trailing Classes. Two Mounted Sections saw Stuart Forsyth of Berwick win Section A and Overall while Richard Ingram took Section B and his compatriot Mike Watkins took the trailing title. Borders Vintage Agricultural Association put on a display of period ploughing and cultivation using Ford, Nuffield, Leyland, International, Roadless, Case and Belarus tractors amongst others. Next year the event moves north to Croftcrunie at Muir of Ord before returning to Coldstream in 2012.

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

ARABLE

Crop biodiversity: use it or lose it

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he genetic diversity of the plants that we grow and eat and their “wild relatives” could be lost forever, threatening future food security, unless special efforts are stepped up to not only conserve but also utilize them, especially in developing countries. This is one of the key messages of the second report on The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, launched today by FAO. The 350-page report, which covers everything from gene bank collections to the effects of climate change on crop diversity, is the definitive health check on what is being done to protect biodiversity in food and agriculture crops. The loss of biodiversity will have a major impact on the ability of humankind to feed itself in the future, all nine billion of us by 2050, with the poorest in the world most affected. Climate change Genetic information held in certain crop varieties is crucial to the development of heat, drought, salinity, pests and diseases-resistant, fast growing, high-yielding new varieties, necessary to combat food insecurity in the face of climate change. “Increasing the sustainable use of plant diversity could be the main key for addressing risks to genetic resources for agriculture,” said Diouf. “There are thousands of crop wild relatives that still need to be collected, studied and documented

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because they hold genetic secrets that enable them to resist heat, droughts, salinity, floods and pests.” Fifty percent of the increase in crop yields in recent years has come from new seed varieties. Irrigation and fertilizer account for the other 50 percent. A recent good example is the fast-maturing New Rice for Africa (NERICA) that has transformed local economies in several parts of Africa. Wild relatives More needs to be done, especially at the level of the farmer’s field, generating local interest, and building capacities to conserve and use the genetic biodiversity that still exists. It has been twelve years since the first State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was published and in that time the global food landscape has changed drastically. Hunger has been reduced in some countries, but has risen in others. Fuel and food prices have increased substantially. Globalization has widened and deepened, and cheap food imports in some countries have threatened the richness of local diversity. Although the report does not attempt to quantify biodiversity loss, empirical evidence points to the continued extinction of crop biodiversity whittling away at the diversity of traditional food crops that survived the last century. FAO estimates 75 percent of crop diversity was lost between 1900 and 2000. A recent study, highlighted in

the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, predicts that as much as 22 percent of the wild relatives of important food crops of peanut, potato and beans will disappear by 2055 because of a changing climate. Gene banks grow On a more positive note, the report states that over the past twelve years, there has been an increase in awareness of the importance of protecting and utilizing the genetic diversity of food crops. Gene banks have increased in both size and the number. There are now some 1 750 gene banks worldwide, with about 130 of them each holding more than 10 000 accessions. And in 2008, the ultimate back-up of global crop diversity, the Svalbald Global Seed Vault, opened in Norway. Of the total 7.4 million samples conserved worldwide, national government gene banks conserve about 6.6 million, 45 percent of which is held in only seven countries, down from twelve countries in 1996. This increasing concentration of collected and preserved genetic diversity in fewer countries and research centers highlights the importance of mechanisms to ensure facilitated access such as that provided by the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, of FAO. The Treaty, now ratified by 125 nations, sets out a framework for compensating poor farmers for

preserving different genetic crop varieties. Investment neglect The neglect in investment in agriculture since 1980 has inevitably led to a shortage of qualified agricultural scientists including plant-breeders, especially in developing countries, as young people, lacking incentives, turn their sights to more immediately profitable activities, the report says. Huge advances have been made in biology and information technologies over the past twelve years; benefits from these need to be extended to improve use of agro-biodiversity with the ultimate aim of improving food security. Many seed systems, the market or mechanism by which quality seeds are reproduced, tested and distributed, have also broken down. In the developed world, the seed sector is profitable enough to make it a viable business interest. Unfortunately, this is not the case in poor countries where public entities are struggling to ensure good seeds for all farmers and access to new varieties. A broader and better use of genetic resources and biodiversity in food crops will stimulate conservation. But adequate systems need to be in place to get new varieties into the hands of farmers both through the public sector and other players, the report found. The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. www.cbd.int/2010/welcome/


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Is your Business Tax Efficient?

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ost farming businesses will operate as a partnership. Is this the most tax efficient set-up? Well, that depends on several factors. The profits your business makes, the number of partners and their non-farming income are some of the factors to be taken into account. Limited Company Why do many businesses outside agriculture trade as a limited company? There can be many reasons such as limiting risk. In a partnership the partners are “jointly and severally” liable for partnership debts and claims. In simple terms, if there is a debt due or claim against the partnership the pursuer can seek recovery from all or any of the partners. This extends to all of the partners' assets owned personally. Tax Saving Tax is another reason that many businesses outside agriculture have changed their business set up so to operate as a limited company. The corporation tax rates are far lower than the combined Income Tax and National Insurance rates paid by the self employed. The owners of Limited Companies will often reward themselves by paying dividends out. The dividend payments avoid National Insurance costs and for even a small business the overall tax saving can run into several thousand pounds per year. So why don't farmers trade as a limited company?

Some do, although not many. For many reasons, a partnership structure may still be appropriate for a family farm. Farmers are in the almost unique position where the owners residence is part of the business. Farmhouse expenses tend to be a mixture of business and personal use. The tax system deals with this simply and relatively favourably for those operating as a partnership. If trading as a limited company any expenditure of a personal nature paid for by the company is treated as a “benefit in kind”. All benefits in kind for an employee must be returned each year (more paperwork!) and are taxed on the individual with the limited company paying further National Insurance costs. Is a limited company ever worth while? Yes. Once a taxpayer has total taxable income above approximately £44,000 higher rate tax starts to be due at 40%. At a rate of 40% tax the outlay by the partnership is high, particularly for those farming businesses reinvesting in machinery,

livestock, crops or repaying bank debt. In most cases a farming business can avoid paying the 40% higher rate tax. What are the options? If you or your partners have earnings above £44,000 and you are suffering higher rate tax, a change of business structure should be considered. Trading as a limited company may be an option. Are there any others? There are and these can provide flexible tax saving opportunities. A partnership can introduce a new partner which is a limited company or a trust. This sounds complicated but is not overly so or tax aggressive. The structure is seldom used as it applies mostly to only farming businesses. Campbell Dallas LLP looks after hundreds of farmers throughout Scotland of all sizes and sectors. We can quickly establish whether your business structure is the most tax efficient. At no cost, we would be happy to speak to you or if you intend to visit AgriScot please come and see us at our Stand.


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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

LAND

Scottish Farmland Values Reach New High

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he average value of Scottish farmland has reached a new high, according to Savills latest Farmland Survey. Scottish average farmland values increased by 4.1% for the quarter, with prime arable land on the east coast performing best, supported by a good potato and wheat harvest. The cumulative growth is 5.8% for the year to date. Average values are now higher than at their previous peak of June 2008. The average figure (£4020/acre) masks the true range of price for Grade 3 which is very great, between £3500 to over £6000/acre. Anna Thomas, Associate Director of Savills Rural in Edinburgh says, “While average values in Scotland have remained under pressure, they

have been supported by a limited supply of farmland across the UK, and a continued strong demand. There was a 56% increase in new buyers registering on our database during the first three quarters of 2010, compared with the same period of last year.” The average value of Grade 3 arable land in England is over £1,000/acre higher (£5,462 per acre ), reflecting an increase of 3.6% for the quarter and a cumulative growth of 10.4% for the year to date. Average values for England are also higher than at their previous peak of June 2008. At the start of 2010, Savills Research published farmland forecasts for farmland values that for the first time are proving to be a fair indicator

of the market. The 7% baseline forecast for values in Great Britain for this year is proving to be realistic according to Savills Survey, which shows an increase of 8% for Grade 3 arable land for the year so far. Miss Thomas reports, “Particularly notable sales in Scotland this year include Halliburton, near Greenlaw in Berwickshire. Halliburton is an upland amenity and stock farm with sporting opportunities, extending to 2,181 acres in total. Marketed at offers over £3 million, it sold in September. The sale attracted a diverse range of interest, from individuals looking for a sporting property, farmers looking for an opportunity to relocate and investors looking for an

by Beth Hocking

alternative investment. Ian Bailey, head of Savills Rural Research comments, “Our research shows that the proportion of buyers with funds between £2 million and £10 million has increased this year, compared with the previous three. Three-quarters of all Savills applicants have funds in this range to spend on farms and estates. “Looking ahead, we expect demand to remain price sensitive, especially where future income generating opportunities are limited. Our main baseline forecast for the short to medium term remains unchanged at around 6% per annum, although we expect growth in values to be diverse and largely related to quality.”

“Dark distant mountains with valleys of green”

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n agricultural, sporting and residential estate on the Scottish coast is for sale. The 7360-acre Carskiey Estate, forming the Mull of Kintyre in Argyll, enjoys an enviable reputation for its in-hand beef and sheep farm and offers quality arable farming and stalking, fishing and shooting. The former seat of the MacNeills of Carskey, the estate and its profitable farming business is now for sale through Strutt & Parker at offers over £2.95million. The in-hand farm, run by an experienced farm manager and well-served by modern farm buildings, vehicles and equipment, is based on a quality suckler cow beef herd, a low ground flock of ewes and a hill flock. The suckler herd amounts to 220 cows made up of Angus Cross, Blue Grey, Limousin and Charolais Cross. The estate is known for producing high quality animals and much of the stock is sold to regular local buyers looking to maintain the Kintyre connection. “Carskiey-bred” stock is widely renowned and heavily sought after by the main regional Auction Marts, providing healthy market competition. The sheep flock consists of around 1270 ewes with 170 low ground greyface ewes (put to Suffolk tups) and 1100 pure blackface hill ewes, of which 120 are put to Blue Leicester tups to provide greyface replacements and the remainder to Blackface tups. The land, with nine miles of coastline, varies from arable land to green hill, heather moorland and steep cliffs. It has been subject to a Rural Stewardship Scheme since 2005. The estate has a substantial Single Farm Payment entitlement and it is thought it would also be suitable for schemes such as the Scottish Rural Development Programme. The sportings have not been

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exercised by the current owners but there are red deer on the hill, roe deer on the low ground, grouse on the moor and fishing on the Breackerie Water and Strone Burn. Three commercial timber plantations total 164 acres and the sale includes various areas of amenity woodland as well as the potential to increase the area of planting. The sale also includes nine estate houses and cottages in varying states of repair. The Carskey Estate, as it was then called, was the former seat of the MacNeills of Carskey from the early 16th century until it was bought and upgraded in the early 1900s. Historical records relating to the estate and the construction of the house by Neil McArthur of Campbeltown for James and Kate Boyd are available for inspection and will be left for the buyers. Overlooking Carskey Bay, the nine-bedroom house, which has been described as a “wonder of Edwardian design”, has been relatively untouched since it was first built and is a testament to the skilled band of craftsmen who built the property. The Carskiey Estate forms the Mull of Kintyre, immortalised in popular consciousness by the 1977 hit song “The Mull of Kintyre” by Kintyre resident McCartney and his band of the time Wings. The song, Wings' biggest hit, made it to Christmas number one and was the first single to sell over two million copies in the UK. Andrew Smith, a partner at Strutt & Parker, said: “Carskiey is a wonderful estate with a renowned profitable farm which the new owner can expand if required. This factor combined with numerous sporting opportunities and the stunning coastal location is likely to result in worldwide interest in the estate.”

by Joanna Skailes


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LAND

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

Argyll Livestock Farm For Sale

by Joanna Skailes

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well-known Kintyre stock farm with more than 1,500 acres has come on the market. Kennacraig Farm, with superb views over West Loch Tarbert, features a four-bedroom farmhouse and comes with a number of redevelopment opportunities. The Argyllshire property is now for sale through Strutt & Parker at offers over £1,250,000. Kennacraig extends to 1,557 acres and has a highly productive in-hand farming enterprise. It has been scaled back in recent years but, when run at its capacity, the farm supports 800 breeding ewes and 70 suckler cows. All winter fodder is produced on the farm with two cuts of silage taken

annually producing about 900 bales. The land varies from hill grazing to ploughable pasture. Kennacraig Hill, rising to 422 metres at the summit of Cnoc a Bhaile-shios, offers 970 acres of bare hill grazing. A member of the Farm Quality Assurance Scheme, the farm has been in the current ownership since it was bought from the Forestry Commission 30 years ago. Kennacraig Farmhouse, which enjoys striking loch and landscape views, provides spacious accommodation which includes a homely kitchen with an Aga, a sitting room with oil fired stove and four bedrooms. Residential assets include a three-bedroom derelict cottage, a serviced site with detailed planning

consent and two further sites with outline consent. There are two ruins, one of which was a chapel. The topography offers good sporting opportunities. Rough shooting is currently enjoyed on the farm and there is the potential to develop driven shooting. Just five miles from the attractive coastal village of Tarbert, renowned for the annual Scottish Series Yachting Event as well as hosting seafood and folk festivals, the farm is also five miles from the ferry link to Arran and half a mile from the ferry links to Islay, Jura and Colonsay. It is 32 miles from Campbeltown. The surrounding countryside is known for its walking and cycling

routes and places of archaeological and historical interest. For the outdoor enthusiasts, there are many golf courses, world class sailing, sea fishing, and trout and salmon fishing in the rivers and lochs. James Butler, of Strutt & Parker, says: “Kennacraig Farm is a renowned and profitable commercial livestock farm which also offers substantial development opportunities. With a family farmhouse set in a stunning location, the property is ideal for those interested in farming on the west coast.” Kennacraig is for sale as a whole or in lots. For more information contact Strutt & Parker’s Glasgow office, 0141 225 3880.

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

EDUCATION

£1000 at Stake

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tudents and young people from all parts of Scotland have this year been given the opportunity to compete in the first ever Business Skills competition which will be decided at this year’s AgriScot. The competition is one of the innovations brought forward by new AgriScot chair, Andrew Moir, who has been determined to attract the younger generation in the event. “It has been my aim to get younger farmers involved in AgriScot and I am sure this competition will achieve that target.” There is a considerable incentive for the competitors to do well as event sponsors, Biocell animal feed additive specialists, have put up a £1000 top prize for the winner. The event has been organised by Bill Dingwall of the Scottish Agricultural College and has the support of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, as well as the land based colleges. The early rounds of the country wide competition were held in the East, West and North regions of Scotland and were based on practical knowledge of farm management. The finalists will face a panel at AgriScot with a tougher set of questions on aspects of the farming industry.

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he search to find Scotland’s Dairy Farm of the Year has narrowed the field down to a short leet of four with the overall winner being decided at this year’s AgriScot event to be held on the 17th November at Ingliston. This top four are Hawk Farming company, Meldrum, Stirling who have a 543 strong herd of Holsteins, R & L Barron, Darrahill, Udny, with 165 Holsteins, T L Owen, Potstown, Middlebe with 182 Holsteins and the firm of John McColm, Garthland Mains, Stranraer, with 185 Ayrshires. The event which is sponsored by World Wide Sires and which is in its

second year has caught the imagination of the industry with every Scottish dairy farm being automatically entered at the initial stage. The judge George Jamieson the NFUS dairy specialist selects on each herd’s results without seeing names or anything that would indicate the owner. The initial selection is made on about fourteen different aspects of the herd’s performance with particular emphasis on the percent of the herd in their sixth lactation and over, calving index, yield for the management system and breed, somatic cell count and average age at

first calving all pointing to exceptional management and excellent animal welfare. Two weeks ago he drew out a long leet of the top twenty herds but this has now been honed down to the top four. Convenor of the award, Jack Lawson, commenting on the final four said it would be a tough decision because the herds were outstanding in every respect with little between them. “All these herds have superb animal welfare and are a real credit to our dairy industry.”

Basil Builds Profits

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ne of the attractions at AgriScot in recent years has been the practical cattle demonstration which turns its focus onto how, in practical terms, farmers can address particular issues. Andrew Moir, the chairman of the AgriScot organising committee, “We always try to provide a practical demonstration on an issue that is important within the industry. “When farmers see how practical management can help reduce the incidence of a disease or reduce costs, then it is easier to transfer this knowledge to their own farms.” This year, the attention is turned to the importance of easy calving in both beef and dairy herds. According to top industry expert, Dr Basil Lowman who once again is in charge of the demonstration this can make a big difference to the final profitability of the enterprise. Official figures produced by Quality Meat Scotland, sponsors of the demonstration, reveal the top third beef producers typically rear 92-93 calves per 100 cows in the herd. This contrasts with the bottom

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third producers who typically rear 85-88 calves per 100 cows. This difference of five to seven calves per 100 cows makes a significant impact on income and margin. Producing seven fewer calves could mean a £3500 income loss for a beef producer with a 100 cow herd selling his weaned calves at £500 each. Beyond that direct revenue implication, Dr Lowman points out there are many other costs associated with difficult calvings for cows. For example if they require the use of a calving jack to help the birth, they are then twice as likely to be barren next time. Add to that a calf from a ‘jacked’ birth is four times more likely to die. These are big issues in both the dairy and beef sectors While most progressive commercial and pedigree cattle breeders now look at the calving ease EBV when they are purchasing a bull, so far only a few take into account Maternal Calving Ease EBV which is now available. Dr Lowman’s advice will be for producers to remember that “women rule” when it comes to reducing problems associated with calving.

This message was particularly important for producers who have bought bulls with easy calving figures but who have been disappointed with the results. “Females are responsible for three quarters of the background as to whether calves are easily born or whether they will require help at birth.” Dr Lowman points out that this improving calving ease is an area where producers can “reduce their costs, improve their returns and make their lives more pleasant.” Picking up this last point, he states that calving should be a pleasurable experience for both the cows and their keepers. Within his own small herd of cattle he seldom has to aid a calving cow with his visits around the cows being more an inspection of how they are getting on. During the demonstration, he will use cows and calves to show how difficult calving can be avoided. Students from Oatridge College are helping in the demonstration and have been putting the cows and calves through their paces in preparation.


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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

WORLD MARKETS

World Markets – Wool by Hugh Stringleman

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ith world strong wool prices rocketing upwards, New Zealand's wool sector leaders have made an attempt to launch a vertically integrated co-operative to cover at least 50% of the country's strong wool production. The directors of Wool Partners Co-operative have published a prospectus seeking share capital at the rate of NZ$1/kg (UK 47p) for each kilogram of annual production. Farmers must commit their entire clip to the co-operative for a minimum of five years, because the directors are spreading the share payments over five years at 20c (9p) per year. If they can't get 50% of the NZ clip signed up, the co-operative will be stillborn and the nation's leading wool handler and broker, PGG Wrightson, a listed company, will be left with the pieces. Most of the competing brokers, private wool buyers and privately owned exporters are lined up against the Wool Partners attempt, but some concede that the bid has at least brought unity of purpose to a notoriously fragmented industry. The Prince Charles Campaign for Wool which kicked off in London's Savile Row in October has also provided a rallying cry, although steeply increasing market prices are probably due to supply and demand factors. NZ strong wool growers are getting 50% more for their baled greasy wool at present compared with 12 months ago, when strong wool (28 micron and coarser) was languishing in a long spell of depressed prices. The Wool Partners Co-operative attempt is to make the present higher prices more permanent, targeting perhaps even 25% higher than now, by marketing and branding activities linked back to supply contracts and quality assurance. Most of the offshore marketing is still being done by the Ilkley base of Wools of New Zealand in Yorkshire, with a strong China and United States presence also. Three years of preparation by Wool Partners (encouraged and funded by PGG Wrightson) has established that

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the wool cost in finished carpets at retail prices in the UK or US is minimal, so that more money for the growers wouldn't hike prices for consumers. It is just that competing companies and factions along the wool value chain scrap over margins and cut supply prices and the growers get what is left over. So the Wool Partners proposition argues that any extra dollar generated in the marketplace, maybe through contracting, Wools of New Zealand or Laneve branding and licences, can only be captured by a grower-owned, vertically integrated co-operative. The average NZ wool grower produces between 80 and 120 bales a year (around 180kg/bale) from 3000 to 5000 sheep per farm. This means the first share capital instalment will be about NZ$4000 (£1900), followed by four more making a total investment of $20,000 (£9500). However the older echelon of NZ sheep farmers paid wool levies for decades to the NZ Wool Board for promotional activities like Woolmark and later Wools of New Zealand brand. That industry-good activity funded by hundreds of millions of dollars of government-approved levies was all dismantled by growers earlier this decade and until recently NZ strong wool prices were depressed. Some sector players now say this was a result of little promotion, and pointed to higher UK wool and synthetic fibre prices. Farmers went out of sheep towards more beef cattle and conversion to dairy farming and the NZ sheep flock is now only half what it was in the 1970s. The follow-on skills like shearing and wool handling have suffered and NZ has all but lost its own wool processing and fabric capabilities. Among those older farmers there is a big residue of suspicion that generic wool promotion accomplishes anything and resentment that Wool Partners wants commitment to supply, capital and marketing levy, in order to go again down what they perceive is a discredited route. But many in the NZ wool industry passionately argue the do-nothing alternative has been tried, and it

failed, that a new generation of northern hemisphere consumers now know little about wool's attributes and that wool producers collectively must support their own fibre. NZ strong wool still accounts for about 30% of all wool used in broadloom carpets around the world. The biggest customer is China, taking about one-quarter of all NZ exports, where Wool Partners has established that some 80% of imported wool is consumed domestically in the booming commercial and hotel construction sector. The very sophisticated European yarn spinners and carpet looms, which have been relocated to China require at least a blend of long, strong NZ wool and the white and pastel

products demand bright fibres free from black contamination. New Zealand produces the world's premium strong wool and its growers should receive reward for sheep breeding, flock management, wool harvesting, clip preparation and quality control. Its 15% minority of fine wool producers (based on Merino flocks in the South Island High Country) organised themselves into a co-operative called New Zealand Merino more than 10 years ago and have reaped the rewards of much better prices through contracting and branding. Not only would strong wool producers benefit from the same approach, but sheep farmers around the world, including the UK, would gain from consistent, high-quality promotional messages to consumers about the wonderful, natural properties of wool. Wool Partners consumer research in the US disclosed that many people think a sheep has to be killed before wool is harvested, a crazy notion apparently put about by synthetic fibre manufacturers. The Wool Partners Co-operative offer closes on 30 November, after which it will be known if the directors have convinced one half of all New Zealand's 12,000 growers to give collective action one more try.


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Smith makes Master & Fagan Fires up for Win 604

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n Australian shearer with his back supported by a sling upset the Kiwi guns to win the first title of the New Zealand shearing season. Damien Boyle, from Western Australia, won the NZ Merino Open Championship in Alexandra, in a six-man final. The runner-up was veteran Kiwi finewool shearing exponent, Rakaia shearer and 2000 and 2004 winner Grant Smith, who was recently accorded Master Shearer status by Shearing Sports New Zealand. But there was still some Kiwi s uccess, with hometown girl Tawhai Nelson scoring the biggest triumph of her career by winning the Open woolhandling title. Hometown favourite Charlie O'Neill was third in the shearing final

and defending champion Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, was fourth. Boyle, who was top-qualifier for the semi-finals but last-man-in to the final, had spent years trying to win New Zealand's top finewool shearing prize, first reaching the final at Alexandra in 1998 and being runner-up at least twice, including last year. The last Australian to win the title at Alexandra is thought to have been Ian Wratten, in 1991. The championships are the only merino event on this season's Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar of 60 shows, ending in late April. The Open shearing heats being a compulsory first round in the PGG Wrightson National, win which competitors accrue points at shows on

five different wool-types, aiming to make the semi--finals and final to be shorn at the Golden Shears in March. O'Neill's brother, Colin, headed the qualifiers, and second-to-top was veteran Mossburn contractor Mana Te Whata, a 1981 Golden shears junior champion who won six Alexandra titles from 1987 to 1995. The leading North Islander was Te Kuiti shearing icon and eight-times series winner David Fagan (49). New World champion and Hawke's Bay shearer Cam Ferguson, who had been shearing merinos in Central Otago for over a month since returning from his triumph in Wales, failed to qualify for the quarterfinals of 24 shearers, but still secured the vital one series point for taking part.

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ew Zealand shearing icon David Fagan had the pundits guessing again after annihilating the best of the rest in Waimate recently for his 604th win in 29 years of Open-class shearing competition around the World. Turning 49 and deciding to fly South to the New Zealand Spring Shears only to support a show worried about declining entries, Fagan won the title for a tenth time, and by a big margin of amost four points. While maintaining he is taking each show as it comes, his dominance on Saturday has already made him frontrunner and favourite to win the PGG Wrightson National, of which the Waimate heats doubled as the second round. His points with three qualifying rounds to go make him a near-certainty for the series semi-finals at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March. He was top qualifier among 28 shearers in the heats, and repeated the performance in the semi-finals, each time more than two points clear of the next-best, 27-year-old World Champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa. He was even more commanding in the final, which Fagan won by 3.895pts from runner-up Dion King, of Napier, with Ferguson having to settle for third place. In the six-man final, Ferguson was unable to match Fagan for pace and it became a contest between the quality of Fagan and the speed of King, who

won the race by 15 seconds and finished his 20 full-wooled crossbred sheep in 16min 42.59sec. Fagan was ably to comfortably recover the time-deficit with easily the better points from pen judging. Winton shearer Darin Forde held the flag for the South Island, finishing fourth, Gisborne's Ian Kirkpatrick was fifth in his best performance since being promoted to Open-class after a Golden Shears and New Zealand championships senior double two seasons ago, and Rakaia shearer Grant Smith was sixth, a week after finishing runner-up to Australian Damien Boyle in the New Zealand Merino Championship. Pleasant Point shearer Kaleb Godsiff won the senior title with 2007 Golden shears junior champion Phillip Rangiwai, of Mataura,second, and Royal Welsh Show senior champion Willie Hewitson, of Invercargill, third. Last season's Golden Shears Junior and Novice champions each made successful new-season debuts in their new grades, the intermediate final on Saturday being won by Brett Roberts, of Mataura, and the Junior event by Masterton shearer David Gordon, who at the age of 13 in March became the youngest person to win a title in the 50 years of the Golden Shears. Mike McConnell, from Cave, retained the blades shearing title, with superior quality turning the tables on 2008 winner Bill Michelle, of Timaru.

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-one • November 2010

CUTTING EDGE

Donald Where’s Your Trousers? T he Quality Meat Scotland stand at the massive SIAL food exhibition is far from being the largest of the 5,700 stands scattered through nine main halls that cover more than twenty acres. But the QMS stand did attract a wide range of potential customers, who used it as a meeting point for the dozen Scottish companies involved in the export of Scottish beef and lamb. These customers are increasingly diverse. To the traditional export markets of France, Belgium, Italy and Spain are now being added others in Europe. Further afield, Scotland is now exporting top quality meat to the Middle East and the Far East with the latter also now taking considerable quantities of fifth quarter products. The QMS stand is situated in the Meat Hall at SIAL and as such is surrounded by meat companies and promotional organisations from all over the world. The SIAL organisers claim 106 countries are represented in the whole exhibition and there are at least forty of those involved in the international trade in red meat. Although, some might question whether a South African game dealing company selling no less than fourteen different types of game from gnu meat through to crocodile should be included in that lengthy list. The big players are there. The USA stand is full of individual companies with international reputations handling some of the 100 million cattle beasts that this massive country has; One of the big pitches from Stateside just now being the supply of top quality hormone free beef into Europe. Their use of hormones in a large percentage of their cattle fattening has been a major handicap to European trade in the past but they are now getting around this issue with licensed “hormone free” beef. The South American countries take a differing attitude to the market with Brazil and the Argentine offering large slabs of red meat with little in the way of fat cover. To tempt their buyers both these stands offered a constant supply of the best of their fillets and sirloins cooked to perfection. Uruguay in comparison, was hitting on its natural methods of rearing its cattle on grass and also on its very good traceability and assurance scheme in its selling pitch.

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by Andrew Arbuckle

Closer to home, the English promotional body, EBLEX and the Welsh lamb body, Hybu Cig Cymru, were operating a similar system to QMS offering their export companies a base from which to sell their wares. QMS had twelve companies on their stand many of them old hands at the export trade. Scotbeef, Bridge of Allan, have been exporting for the past thirty years with Italy being their main market for beef. However, within the £11 million of red meat the company now exports annually, there is an increasing amount of lamb. Scotbeef has been at the forefront of a campaign to introduce branded Scotch Lamb packs onto French supermarket shelves. This has been a quite a battle as the French have traditionally not provided the country of origin on supermarket packets of sheep meat. However, David Chiffoleau, Quality Meat Scotland’s representative in France said there was now increased recognition of the Scotch Lamb label and more than 100,000 branded packs would be sold in the Auchan supermarket chain alone this season. Chiffoleau said the supermarket purchasing process in France made it more difficult to make a big impact quickly as, in contrast with the UK supermarkets with their centralised buying systems, French store managers had a big say in what went on the shelves Part of the promotion of Scottish meat in supermarkets has been directly supported by QMS with in-store demonstrators proving their worth in highlighting the difference in the meats on offer. Some thirty kilometres from the exhibition halls hosting SIAL, at the Auchan Osny supermarket, Christiane Siebert, demonstrator compared the lighter, almost pinky coloured lamb from France saying it was likely to have come from the Roquefort area where the sheep are mostly kept inside all the time. Buyers were attracted to the deeper red flesh in the Scottish packs of lamb, she suggested. Now having broken through that lamb branding barrier, the companies involved in getting Scotch lamb packs on the shelves are now planning to do the same with Scottish sourced Aberdeen Angus beef. Simon Dowling, a director with Scotbeef, revealed that along with

sixth generation French meat company, Macquet, they would be supplying Aberdeen Angus beef to some of the major supermarket chains in France. Laurent Macquet said he was sure that the Scottish Aberdeen Angus pack with its world wide reputation for marbled meat would “ring a bell” with consumers. Commenting on the wider aspects of the export market, Dowling admitted the value of the euro was helping the trade but he had been very encouraged at SIAL by the number of new customers from all over Europe coming forward for Scottish meat. “This has been a successful show. We have enquiries from all over Europe. They are not wanting kilos (of meat) they are talking truckloads.” Dowling’s upbeat view was echoed by Malcohm Hetherington, the general manager of Mathers of Inverurie. “There is a feel-good position in the export sector just now." Those exporting Scottish beef and lamb were operating in a niche market with most interest in the primal cuts but there was now an increased export interest in the fifth quarter with truckloads or tripes, tongues, skirts and other parts of the carcase which is not in demand within the UK. In the past, the market for “primals” has been in France, Italy, Holland Belgium and Spain but Peter Robertson, of Millers of Speyside, revealed that his company was picking up interest from "new" countries on the scene. "In addition to our long-term

customers in Holland, France and Belgium, we have enquiries from Latvia which look promising and also from the Czech Republic." He described his company’s attendance at SIAL as very important as it provided a meeting place for existing customers as well as allowing newcomers to see what the Scots had to offer. Speaking from the show, Donald Biggar, the chairman of QMS described the export market as being "very important" for the Scottish red meat sector and he was very pleased that progress was being made despite the wider economic gloom. "There is no doubt that the global economic slump is making trading conditions difficult," he said, "but the good news is that, despite relatively tight supplies of Scotch beef and lamb, exporters are maintaining a strong presence in the market . "Scotch beef and lamb now has a presence in nearly every major outlet in our key markets of France, Benelux and Italy, which is great news. However, it is vital we do not miss any opportunity to enhance this hard-won profile." The latest figures from QMS back up the optimism, with UK beef sales growing 19 per cent in the first six months of the year, and within that, Scotland was more than holding its share, Biggar said. UK lamb sales have fallen by 5 per cent in the same period but he expected Scottish figures to buck that trend. Over the four day show, some 200,000 people visited despite problems with the French operating a fuel strike that affected attendance.


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Issue 71