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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011


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CONTENTS

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

Ayr Show Judges 2011

Issue seventy-six • April 2011

L Eilidh MacPherson

farmingscotland EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 3TE

ambing is in full swing and due to the weather has been a been a breeze in comparison to last year so far. The lambing heat box which Richard’s father made him for Christmas has thankfully not made an appearance out of the shed! It would have come in very handy last year. Delighted to announce that our ‘Get Swept off Yer Wellies’ section in the February issue has been successful. Our advertising sales rep – Alison – has virtually been whisked off her feet! We will be running it in the May issue so e-mail or post in your photo and a wee introductory blurb. We have decided that there will be no charges from either advertisers or repliers at this juncture – maybe just a wedding invite if you meet the farmer of your dreams! Talking of weddings my older sister finally decided to tie the knot right in the middle of lambing time – on the same day as Wills and Kate. A two day excurcion to Aberdeenshire was a

wonderful but expensive rest, as we had to draft in a lamber in our absence – thanks Kim! This issue we have a couple of dairy features – the Watsons of High Mark, Stranraer and the Lairds of Ore Mills, Thornton, Fife. Davie and Derek Laird both attended SAC in Edinburgh before heading home to Fife to farm. Davie’s eldest son, also David, is now on his first year BSc Agriculture at Edinburgh. Show season is just about upon us, kicking off with Ayr Show on pages 4 & 5. MEP Alyn Smith sold his services as a lambing assistant at the National Sheep Association dinner a couple of months back. Neale McQuestin and his wife were the successful bidders and he shares his story on pages 18 & 19. As ever Hugh Stringleman has an interesting column in the World Markets section and a couple of sheep shearing reports fill the final few pages.

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Dairy

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Energy

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Animal Health Lamb Threat

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Spraying

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Machinery Potato Heritage

Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 07977897867 editor@farmingscotland.com www.farmingscotland.com PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson ADVERTISING – Eilidh MacPherson Fiona McArthur Alison Martin Kirstin Norrie

– 016444 60644 – 01583 421397 – 01292 443097 – 0131

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Education Lambing Live

World Markets with NZ correspondent

Hugh Stringleman Cover - Slurry spreading at High Mark, Stranraer, SW Scotland Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated Page 4 bottom two - Ayr Show Page 5 Ayr Show Page 17 Peter Small Page 18 Neale McQuistin Page 20 Claas

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Sheep Shearing Te Kuiti, Falklands

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Issue seventy-six • April 2011

SHEEP JUDGES

John Maxwell

Overall Sheep Section, Sheep Breeds YFC &

Ladies’ Choice

Rotherwood Supreme Champion of Champions

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Blair Cockburn, Stirkfield Farm, Biggar, Lanarkshire Beltex William McAlister, Kells, Ballymena, Northern Ireland Blackface Sheep & Any Other Breed Sheep Andy Woodburn, Netherwood Farm, Muirkirk,

Blair Cockburn

Ayrshire Bluefaced Leicester Robert Neill Jnr, Broadley, Dunning, Perthshire Border Leicester John Mauchlen, Spotmains Farm, Kelso, Borders British Charollais Mrs Helen Sloan, Rigghead, Collin, Dumfries Commercial Sheep Andrew MacLean, The Kings Arms, Ballantrae, Girvan, Ayrshire Jacob Miss Linda McKendrick, Bankhead Farm, Cupar, Fife Suffolk Scott Brown, Woodhead Farm, Dewarton, Gorebridge, Midlothian Texel Ian Struthers, Collielaw Farm, Carluke, Lanarkshire Zwartbles C Comrie, The Fort, Ballynahinch, County Down, Northern Ireland

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lair Cockburn, who farms Stirkfield (1500 acres) at Broughton and Kingside (600 acres owned, 100 acres rented) near Peebles along with his wife Morag, will be selecting the Rotherwood Supreme Champion of Champions at Ayr Show. His skills will also be put to the test deciding the overall in the sheep section and the Young Farmer classes. The Cockburn’s run both North (400 in number) and South Country Cheviot (800) flocks as well as 700 Blackfaces, of which 200 are kept pure with the rest in Scotch Mule production. His brother Tom manages the one hundred head of cattle reared at Kingside – mainly Limousin and Belgian Blue cross. Previously Blair has taken centre stage placing line-ups of Mules at the Royal Highland Show and North Country Cheviots at the Royal Welsh last year. “Lambing has not been too bad, mainly due to the fantastic weather,” commented Blair.

ell kent Blackface sheep breeder and Galloway cattle enthusiast, John Maxwell, formerly of Cashel Farm, Loch Lomond and now based at The Jaw, Fintry, Glasgow will be placing the Belted Galloway and Galloway cattle at Ayr this year. Pictured above studying form at the Newton Stewart tup sales in the back end, John is well qualified for the job in hand. On the 1500acre holding, which rises to 1700 feet, John runs 600 Blackface ewes, with a third of them crossed to the Blue Faced Leicester. There are also 30 miscellaneous ewes, which include some pedigree Beltex. He owned his first Galloway cattle fifty years ago, back in 1961 and started breeding them in 1976. Currently John has 25 Dun Galloways and eight Simmentals at The Jaw. Last year he placed the Galloway section at the Highland Show. Following Ayr he will be judging the Overall Sheep section at Carsphairn and at Caithness.

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his year, at Ayr, all four dairy cattle judges are women. Rebecca Jarvis of Rainton, Thirsk will have a busy day as she is judging the Jersey Cattle Section / Calf & Showmanship Classes for all Dairy Breeds and the Ayrshire/ Holstein/ Jersey/ Dairy Inter-Breed Cattle as well as the YFC classes. Growing up on the family farm in Yorkshire, Rebecca began showing Jerseys and Holsteins at the age of 12. Her career in Agricultural Sales has included working for Semex at Monkton, Ayrshire. She now sells feeds for I’Anson Bros feedstuffs in Yorkshire. Rebecca’s been judging for 15 years, and jokingly says she’d like to complete a ‘grand slam:’ having judged at the Royal Show, the Royal Welsh, and Balmoral she’d love to be invited to judge at the Royal Highland. This year will be her first time at Ayr, while other shows on this year’s schedule include Dumfries, Nantwich and Royal Cornwall. Without letting too much out of the bag, Rebecca will

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BEEF CATTLE JUDGES Overall Beef Section, Home Beef Cattle, Continental Beef Cattle and Prime Cattle YFC Sections & Rotherwood Supreme Champion of Champions John Cameron, Balbuthie Farm, Elie, Fife Aberdeen Angus Bert Taylor, 69 Woodend Drive, Northmuir, Kirriemuir, Angus Belted Galloway & Galloway John Maxwell, The Jaw, Fintry, Glasgow British Blonde

Ayr Show Judges 2011

Billy Laird, Lochhead Farm, Coaltown of Wemyss, Kirkcaldy, Fife

John Douglas, Mains of Airies, Stranraer British Blue Steven Brough, Buckabank Farm, Dalston, Carlisle British Simmental Robert McAlister, Langalbunioch Farm, Kingarth, Argyll & Bute Commercial Cattle Wilson Peters, Cuilt Farmhouse, Monzie, Crieff Highland Alan Bosomworth, Ormsary Cottages, Lochgilphead,

DAIRY CATTLE JUDGES Dairy Inter-Breed Section & Rotherwood Supreme Champion of Champions Competition Mrs Caroline Hastings, Rosehill, Holywood, Dumfries Holstein Mrs Christine Wilson, Wood Farm, Thursby, Carlisle Jersey Cattle Section / Calf & Showmanship Classes for all Dairy Breeds,

John Douglas, Mains of Airies, Ayrshire/Holstein/Jersey/Dairy Inter-Breed Cattle Stranraer YFC Classes & Young StockPerson 'Dairy' Ms Rebecca Jarvis, Stone Cottage, Carr Lane, Rainton, Thirsk Ayrshire Mrs Lisa Window-Walker, Horsepool Farm, Bromsgrove Road, Hunnington, West Midlands

GOAT JUDGES Goat Section George Dale, Newby, Scarborough Ayrshire Goat Club Spring Show & Rotherwood Supreme Champion of Champions Competition

be looking for a balanced cow with an exceptionally good udder, good legs and feet, with a show presence that will catch her eye immediately it walks into the ring. Christine Wilson, who farms in partnership with her husband Kevin in Thursby, Carlisle with their sons Thomas and William aged 11 and 14, is placing the Holsteins at Ayr. Their 300 dairy Holsteins won the Premiere Holstein Herd in 2005, and have been awarded best herd in Cumbria five times. Judging for 25 years, Christine's career took shape when she won the individual judging for Holsteins four times between the ages of 16-26. Although she grew up on a dairy farm, she says taking part in Young Farmers and the Holstein Club gave her the benefit of the advice of a lot of farmers. She puts her success down to doing what she enjoys, setting goals and 'really going for it.' Ayrshire judge is Lisa WindowWalker, of Horsepool Farm, Hunnington in the West Midlands. Lisa farmed with her Dad for 25 years, selling the milk from their herd

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of 90 Hunnington Ayrshires. Her father, who worked for Lord Henry Plumb, judged all over the world, and Lisa is continuing the family tradition. She's done a great deal of judging for 'well over 15 years,' and has been a regular visitor to Ayr, serving time on the council and breed development for Ayrshires. British show judging appearances include Agriscot, Balmoral, and Royal Norfolk. Last year she judged in New Zealand and Finland. She also showed at the Royal, and is a regular competitor at the Dairy Event. Closer to home, Caroline Hastings of Rosehill, Holywood, Dumfries will be choosing the Dairy Inter-Breed Section & Rotherwood Supreme Champion of Champions Competition.

Any Other Native Breed of Cattle & Hereford Robert Grierson, Grange Farm, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire. Any Other Continetal Breed of Cattle Section I Callion, Bolfornought Farm, Stirling

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

DAIRY

Ayrshire dairy farmer – John Watson – sold up and headed south west to double his grazing months. He converted a beef and sheep unit into a dairy and Holsteins have been traded in for Ayrshires. Forty acres of rough ground have also been developed for grazing.

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t is no wonder that John Watson of High Mark is the voice of Farmers for Action as he is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. Having previously farmed at Ochiltree in Ayrshire, John and his wife Avril and their children along with John’s parents, Jim and Sheila, sold up a decade ago and moved to a drier farm to, “get eight months of grazing instead of four.” Cattle numbers were increased from 120 to 160 and the large Holstein cattle were sold in favour of a traditional Ayrshire herd. “They suited the system here better – a grass based system. They live longer and have better fertility,” explained John. “We took the Holstein herd down here with us and bought some Ayrshires to increase the numbers. We found that they lasted longer, were easier managed and suited this exposed coastal farm.” The Watsons were encouraged by the Ayrshire Cattle Association to

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start a pedigree herd and by 2005 they began to register the calves. By 2009 they stopped using beef bulls. All cattle are now AI’d by Cattle Services in Ayr using straws from Semex or World Wide Sires or are served naturally by Ayrshire bulls. Auchensale Black Pearl was purchased as a calf and has since been taken into the proven scheme by the Ayrshire Cattle Society. In the last two years cow families have been bought in at High Mark to increase genetics; Heatherbloom (2), the Barr, Sanquhar, Sandy Rose family (3), Celedine (1), one from the famous Barbie family of Muirson and two Georgie Girls. These have all been purchased as mature cows at no more than 2500gns – “a way of buying genetics without spending a fortune!” The Georgie Girls have proved fast-track genetics, as there are already four heifer calves in the herd. Sexed semen has been tried at High

Mark, in small amounts, with mixed results. “It worked well with maiden heifers but not so well with the cows.” The top dozen milk producing cows are kept in a separate shed and put to proven sires as another route to improving genetics. If their yield drops back another replaces them. Semen is selected for dams producing a lot of milk with high fertility and longevity, while for the male line they look for dams with good fat and protein percentages, type and good feet and legs. “We are not breeding cows to show, we are breeding cows to have a long life on the farm – economically. Our cows average 4.2 lactations, whereas the national average is 2.4. We believe that there are Ayrshire bulls available that have longevity, fertility and milk quality,” commented John who was brought up with Ayrshires in the ‘70’s before the family converted to Holsteins to

increase yields. n 2000 the Watson family purchased the 300-acre High Mark, with its mile of coastline, in the Rhins of Galloway and converted it from a beef and sheep property to a dairy one. A dairy and parlour were built and a New Zealand style Waikato 12/24 milking parlour was installed for its simplicity – direct to line with no metres, no jars. Slurry channels were added and Cow Comfort mats were fitted in all the cubicles. Another three small sheds for young stock and an extra silage pit have also been erected with no grant aid at all. “I’m not in the slightest technically minded and am no computer expert so opted for the simplest parlour possible,” admitted John, whose mother still regularly milks with him. Work on the property did not stop there. Forty acres of sandy hillocks near the coast, covered in whins bushes were cleared. Diggers moved

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Marked Changes at High Mark

M in and levelled out the hills to produce undulating slopes, pictured above. “A lot of dung and slurry was applied,” pointed out John as his son spread slurry in the adjoining flat field, which plummeted on three sides to the ocean. (left and cover) Some of the ‘new’ acreage is down to wheat and the rest is for silage. “We still have 10 reclaimable acres, which will be tackled when time and money allows. Another thirty acres are just too rocky.” As the milk from High Mark averages 3.57% protein through the year and 4.45 butterfat it goes for cheese making at Caledonian Cheese. “We are being paid 26p/l but currently it costs us 30.8p to produce the milk. It is an up hill struggle with the supermarkets controlling prices. “The three biggest costs are feed fertiliser and fuel and in the past year they have gone up 65%, 40% and 35% respectively. We’ve got to get a price that covers the price of production! stated an exasperated Scottish Coordinator for Farmers for Action. “We have taken direct action closing distribution depots and talking with processors, supermarkets and politicians. It seems to be the only way that we get any movement in the milk price. We held demos on the 15th December at Tesco and Asda this time and are working with a united front with the NFU, Dairy Farmers of Scotland.” John spends a fair bit of his time on the phone fighting the corner for Farmers for Action and just wants to help ‘make the dairy farmers’ lot better by increasing the price. “The percentage profit on milk and cheese is more than the farmer is getting for the raw material. Of the 25 European Union countries, the UK price is ranked 23rd, just above Slovenia.”

ore than 120 dairy farmers packed into the opening meeting of NFU Scotland’s nation-wide dairy roadshow to hear about a milk price proposal that could transform the fortunes for all dairy farmers in the country. The Union believes that if a market-related pricing formula were incorporated as a baseline into producer contracts, it would break the cycle of market failure in the dairy supply chain. Such a move could allow dairy farmers, irrespective of whom they sell their milk to; to move forward with improved confidence and greater certainty. It would also deliver sustainability, which is in the best interest of whole supply chain. The Union proposal is part of a wider package of milk measures including moves in Europe to strengthen the position of dairy farmers and the need for a supermarket adjudicator here in the UK to help police supply chains. NFU Scotland Vice President Allan Bowie said: “Based on existing market indicators for commodities such as milk powder, butter and mild cheese, the proposed formula – if in place today – would deliver a basic milk price of 32p per litre. That is substantially higher than current average price for milk here in the UK and on a par with the prices being paid to dairy farmers in other European countries. “Discussing such a proposal now is timely and could see milk contracts in the UK providing a model for elsewhere. The High Level Group in Europe, charged with looking at the milk sector, has recommended that steps be taken to strengthen contracts and improve the negotiation position of producers. Our latest work fits with that recommendation and also dovetails with the model contract developed a few years ago by NFU and NFUS giving a genuine opportunity to develop a meaningful contract with real teeth.” Castle Douglas dairy farmer, Kenneth Campbell, chair of the

NFUS Milk Committee added: “The formula we are proposing would ensure that producers received a price that more truly reflected the real market value of milk and move producers in the UK away from the bottom of the European price league to a more level playing field with our European counterparts. “There are worries that linking our milk price closer to commodity prices may expose us to greater levels of volatility. That may be true, but if the formula had been in place over the last decade then milk prices in the UK would have been consistently higher than the average price actually paid. If that is what volatility looks like, then let’s have the debate.” “The Union is creating the right environment for discussion on price formulas, but producers need to push them and speak to their buyers and their producers representatives. At the same time, we are speaking to processors, co-ops, and retailers. This is about creating a new foundation for the industry that can deliver sustainability throughout the dairy supply chain.”

FARM DETAILS Farmers: John & Avril Watson in partnership with his parents Sheila and Jim Farming: High Mark Location: Stranraer, Wigtonshire Area:

300 acres owned

Stock:

160 Ayrshire cows 100 followers

Crops:

50 acres wheat 10 acres fodder beet

Other:

Reclaimed 40 acres of rough ground for grassland

Positions: Scottish Co-ordinator for Farmers for Action Council Member Ayrshire Cattle Society retired Chair of Wigton Ayrshire Cattle Club

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GRISEARCH is spear heading a new project aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by improving dry cow management to boost fertility, herd health and production performance. This project also aims to develop an on-line benchmarking tool allowing NI farmers to calculate the carbon footprint of their farms. Co-funded by AgriSearch and the DARD Research Challenge Fund this applied research project offers huge potential benefits to the dairy industry. AFBI, Hillsborough as the research partner in the project, hosted an initial meeting of the nine farmers taking part in the on-farm component of the work. The AFBI farm at The Park, Hillsborough will provide the tenth dairy herd taking part in this project. “Opinions differ on the best way to manage cows once dried off,” explained Gary McHenry, AgriSearch dairy advisory committee chairman. “Many recommendations are based on anecdotal evidence rather than on the results of scientific investigations. Cows need a dry period to recover from lactation, to regenerate mammary tissue and to produce colostrum so without this rest period output in the next lactation can suffer.” “ This research will seek to establish

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

a practical dry cow management blueprint that can be used by Northern Ireland farmers to; * Ensure stress free calving and the delivery of a healthy calf * Minimise risk of metabolic disorders or infections after calving * Promote high levels of performance * Encourage oestrous activity and improve fertility “This initiative is an exciting opportunity for farmers and scientists to combine their skills and resources to improve animal husbandry and welfare in the dry period thus enhancing the efficiency of farm businesses and reducing their carbon footprints.” To date there has been little research into the response to different dry cow diets at different levels of BCS, Body Condition Score. How does the animal's condition in late lactation and subsequent feeding regime as a dry cow impact on future health, fertility, longevity and lactation? The partner farms taking part in this research will offer dry cows five different feeding programs, see table, with results used to produce recommendations of practical value to producers. For further information contact www.agrisearch.org or (028)87789770.

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DAIRY

Expansion on Fife Family Farm

FARM DETAILS Farmers: D Laird & Sons Donald Laird with sons David and Derek Farming: Ore Mills & Middle Balbeggie Location: Thornton, Fife Area:

700 acres (600 owned)

Stock:

100 Holstein cows and followers – increasing herd numbers to 150 cows small AA herd

Crops:

Winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape

Labour:

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Donald, David, Derek & a dairyman

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onsiderable investment in new dairy buildings and equipment haS transformed a family farming unit in Fife. The Lairds of Ore Mills at Thornton, between Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, secured SRDP funding at 40%, which has enabled them to build a complete new dairy facility on a green field site. Traditionally milking 70 cows, they are now well on their way to doubling cow numbers and production. “We are now milking 100 cows and intend to raise numbers to 150. We are using sexed semen and have a lot of heifers on the ground at different ages,” shared Derek, who oversees the dairy operation. His father Donald is still very much involved with the business, while brother David, lives at Middle Balbeggie and manages the cropping enterprises. The original steading site was not big enough and couldn’t be expanded easily. “The logistics of knocking down byres, erecting buildings and

milking twice a day was not feasible. As we built on a greenfield site just across the farm road from the original steading we were able to keep on milking as normal. “Most people were impressed with the timescale as the digger came on site on 11th February 2010 and the cows moved in on the 16th June, just before the Royal Highland Show.” From the outset Derek designed the shed to, “make things as easy as possible, as keeping good staff is a problem on dairy farms.” The current dairyman has been with them for five years. He sketched his ideas and wish list for the 60m x 30 shed on paper before meeting an architect from Archibald’s of Dumfries. With SRPD funding in mind, the Lairds travelled to Carlisle in January 2009 and looked at several robotic machines in operation. “We thought that they were good quality and had their place but didn’t suit our system,” informed Derek.

They opted for a GEA Westfalia 14/28 swing over milking parlour, having previously worked with an 8/16 Gasgoyne swing over. “Milking is now a pleasure rather than a chore. It takes just over an hour for one person to milk 100 cows, whereas it previously took one and a half hours for 70 cows.” Derek’s sentiments are echoed on GEA’s website, “Significant savings in time are guaranteed since practically the entire workflow is automated! Whilst you're attaching the cluster to the last cow, the first cow has usually finished milking. The cluster is swung over to the opposite milking stall at the flick of a wrist, and pulsation and milking vacuum to the cluster are activated automatically through the rapid start function. “The milking equipment is located in the centre of the operator pit, so that it can be used alternately between two opposite milking stalls. This reduces walking distances considerably. You have targeted access to both the


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terminal and the cluster, enabling good posture throughout milking.” The Lairds have found that within a week the cattle had adapted to the new set up. “The new parlour has more space, the old one wasn’t really designed for large Holsteins. “We tried to go as high tech as we could,” said Derek, who reeled off a list of state of the art gizmos, which have been incorporated into the build for ease of management. Pedometers on the cows legs, used for identification, measuring Carrs Billington feed rations in the parlour targeting high yielders and heat detection are proving their worth. “We have seen an marked improvement in fertility.” “The automatic plant washing system is fantastic as you hit a button and go and have breakfast!” The new bulk tank, which was being emptied by a female driver for Wiseman’s, during my visit boasts a heat recovery system, which is used to heat the water for plant washing. The milk was destined for Sainsbury’s Scottish stores, as the Lairds are members of the Sainsbury Dairy Development Group. “We have also incorporated a rainwater harvesting system, which we use for washing the floors,” explained Derek. Purposely there are no slopes or steps in the shed or in collecting areas and teamed with Cowcare rope scrapers, a Cowcare automatic footbath and a new foot crate, cow locomotion has improved. Jourdain self-locking yokes, the length of the feed barrier have proved a real winner. “One man can line up the cattle for vaccinations, pd scanning, clipping or BVD’ing and it is over in half an hour. Previously it would take four of us most of the day through the crush. They were expensive to put in compared to a plain feed barrier but are a great labour saving device.” Derek requested pre-cast concrete panels on the sides of the cattle shed for two reasons; one so that there was a large gap between them and the roof to keep the shed well ventilated and two, so that straw could be blown in from outside into the bedded cattle courts. “We stuck with bedded courts for cow comfort and the flexibility of being able to cart the farm yard manure to the furtherest arable fields. We have a good supply of straw – we wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”

Once the milking parlour and cattle housing was complete, some of the original buildings were raised to the ground. A new 120m by 60m shed was erected. The calves are now luxuriously housed on straw with a Volac Auto calf feeder to keep life simple. The maternity wing with calving pens is still to be completed. No funding was granted for this building. During my visit the cattle were still housed, but by now they will be out during the day and back in at night for a spell. “In the summer they graze in a day field further away from the steading and at night in a field nearer the shed.” Lying in an NVZ area the Lairds also erected a 350 000gallon slurry

store, which is well positioned to block the prevailing wind from the end of the shed. With the next round of the Rural Priorities scheme taking place in September 2011, it is a shame that only applications for environmental projects will be considered. Many more farmers could benefit from the grant assistance for capital investment to improve their businesses and raise much needed food production levels.

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cotch Beef had star billing on the official menu for the Royal Wedding watched by an estimated two billion well-wishers around the globe. His Royal Highness Prince William and his new bride, Kate Middleton, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with around 650 guests, enjoyed Scotch Beef from Mey Selections at the lunch reception hosted by Her Majesty The Queen. The roast fillet of Scotch Beef was served in miniature Yorkshire puddings with horseradish mouse, as part of around 10,000 canapes prepared for the lunch by a team of 21 chefs led by Royal Chef Mark Flanagan.

The beef was supplied by Mey Selections which is part of the North Highland Initiative launched in 2005 by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. It is understood Mey Selections Scotch Lamb also played a major part in the official celebrations. Caithness farmer Danny Miller, Chairman of North Highland Products, said: “Mey Selections now has around 500 farmer suppliers who are dedicated to delivering top quality produce. We supply some very high profile venues, such as The Goring and RAC Club in London, and it is a fantastic tribute to our hard-working producers in the Highlands that Scotch Beef had pride of place on the menu today.”

Bio-digester at Sorbie Mains

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he Howgarth family have been milking cows at Sorbie Mains, Ardrossan, North Ayrshire for over three generations. The 250 cow mainly grassland unit is now managed by the young family of Alan and Lorraine. Having grown increasingly frustrated by a low farmgate milk price and seeing a gap in the local market, the husband and wife team took the decision to invest in processing equipment and start retailing their own milk to doorstep and local shops in the adjacent coastal towns. Why install renewable energy? An Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant (also known as a biogas plant) was originally installed as part of a bathing water quality initiative. That said, the Hogarths are now convinced of the business benefits. The airtight bio-digester converts the slurry into biogas. The Hogarths are now investing in a combined heat and power (CPH) generator to harness this biogas to create renewable electricity and heat. The electricity will supply the farm, milk processing and power electric milk floats. The hot water and steam already clean the dairy and wash the traditional glass milk bottles. The system will provide nearly 100% of energy requirements (equivalent to clean renewable energy for around 40 small family homes). Making use of renewable power is reducing energy bills, reducing their carbon footprint and adds to the sustainability ethos that the Hogarths are adopting in other areas of the business e.g. encouraging the return of the traditional glass milk bottle and sale of unhomoganised milk. Milk is also being delivered, within 24hours of milking the cow, to customers within view of the green

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slopes of Ardrossan, where Sorbie farm is located – ensuring freshness and low food miles, all adding to the selling points for this family farming unit. The liquor (know as digestate) from the AD unit retains all the original nutrient value of slurry but becomes less polluting. The process does, however, enhance the structure and availability of nitrogen for growing crops. This digestate has also contributed towards reducing purchased fertiliser requirements. Together with increased slurry storage and regular soil sampling has enabled fertiliser bills to be reduced by some £10,000. The AD process effectively eliminates odour from manure, which was a welcome bonus for surrounding residents. How did you identify the type and scale of the renewable energy project? The size of the digester was based on slurry throughput from the dairy herd with no other feedstocks being used. Youngstock manure is stored separately and transferred to the AD unit during the summer when cows are out at grass. This means there can be relative continuity of supply throughout the year and consistency of product – based on manure only. With regards to the electricity generator, a 25kW system was calculated to closely match biogas production from the slurry, ensuring the generator is running to near capacity for as much of the time as practical and making most effective use of the money invested. Researching the idea An AD plant was originally installed on farm as part of a Scottish Executive Environment and Rural

Affairs Department pilot study with the aim to enhance bathing water quality. The Hogarths together with neighbouring units were invited to participate in the scheme, being located in a priority catchment area – Saltcoats South Bay. Having been introduced to the idea, Alan saw an opportunity to improve the farming operation while harnessing a renewable energy. The AD process also has the advantage of utilising existing manure, which can be made available all year round, which is more consistent than e.g. wind energy. Establishment Compared with most livestock operations this dairy unit has a near continuous electricity requirement to cover the daily milkings and pasteurisation. Fortunately the pattern of AD energy generation more closely matches the consumption pattern than many other renewable energy types. Off-setting purchased electricity provides the biggest financial incentive, and further benefits from the Feed In Tarriff (FITS) scheme. Since the business also makes full use of the heat generated, the Hogarths will also be eligible to claim Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheduled to be launched in 2011. Problems encountered Establishment: Unlike larger commercial AD units, farm-scale versions are closely linked to the farming system and are generally in close proximity to the existing farm steading. Although a relatively new technology it makes use of familiar farm structures (above ground cylindrical steel stores) therefore provided it is not visually intrusive it will present few planning constraints.

The Hogarths identified that involving Scottish Environment Protection Agency at an early stage did help the process. If connecting to the national grid it will be necessary to confirm whether there is sufficient line capacity. This can be costly (depending on the proximity to a transformer). Booking until connection can take several months; something often underestimated in the project timeline. Issues once established: Unlike larger AD units which incorporate feedstocks from many different sources, ‘rationing’ the digester to create a balanced environment for bacteria to breakdown the organic matter is a skilful process. Using only manure reduces complications. Alan could think of very few problems except a blockage which lowered the digester temperature, consequently reducing bacterial activity and subsequent biogas yield. It then takes a few weeks to get the system back up to full production again. Where the business is now Importantly, the combination of diversification and the adoption of AD renewable technology fits with the existing farming system and makes use of existing resources. This helps keep the system simple, especially important on a very busy farm such as this. Critical success factors Having a system that can make use of the electricity and heat is particularly important. Availability of manure throughout the year and land to spread the digestate near to the holding also reduces cost and increases viability.


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Forward Thinking Farmers should hedge forward to protect their SFP, writes Tom Barclay of World First foreign exchange

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ost farmers in the UK rely on the SFP as a crucial source of income. By electing to receive the payment in euros and setting a rate in advance with a currency broker you can make the most out of this vital payment. Even if the exchange rates don’t make you a massive bit on top, by arranging your rates in advance you will be able to plan ahead for the year with peace of mind – fully aware with what you can expect from the SFP when it comes around and safe in the knowledge that you know what you’re worst case scenario will be. When talking to clients, I’ve found that it is this stability and confidence which appeals most. Farmers want to know what they are dealing with as far ahead as possible. Setting the rates in advance, with the flexibility of setting a worst case rate built in, offers protection against negative moves in the market – whilst also allowing you to benefit if the market subsequently moves in your favour. The Euro has rallied recently against the pound in recent weeks, as market focus has switched from concerns over the state of Europe’s peripheral economies to the on-going situations in Libya and Japan. However, the economic issues in the Eurozone are not simply going to go away and this means that the Euro remains vulnerable. It all adds up to a strong case for fixing rates now, to avoid disappointment in September when the ECB announce their SFP rate for 2011. For further information about protecting your SFP visit the website www.worldfirst.com. To discuss forward contracts further contact Tom Barclay on 0207 801 2362 or email tom.barclay@worldfirst.com Case Study: Tom Streeter of Harps Farm, near Bishop’s Stortford, secured an exchange rate of around 1.14 (0.8772) for his 2010 Single Farm Payment He said: “Being able to fix the exchange rate with a forward contract has the additional benefit of being able to budget more precisely a year in advance. “Other decisions in farming have to be made well in advance of the SFP, such as spray and fertilizer choices. Being able to 'fix' one more variable gives a clearer picture and therefore aids these decisions. “Things do not happen quickly in farming so having this much time is important. Waiting until 30 September to find out how much the SFP will be can compromise this, especially in the last two years where we have seen such volatility.”

NBA Beef Event ‘11

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nimal health, reversing the downward trend in Scotland's beef suckler herd and the marketing of Scotch beef will be the subjects addressed by leading industry experts at a new event for Scotland's beef industry, Scotland's Beef Event 2011, on Wednesday, June 1. Venue for the event, organised by NBA Scotland with support from Quality Meat Scotland, is Corskie Farm, Garmouth, Fochabers, Moray, courtesy of host farmer, Iain Green. This “must attend” event for beef farmers and all those with a professional interest in the future of the beef industry in Scotland has attracted more than 100 trade stands and exhibits by beef breed societies and is set to draw a huge attendance from all over Scotland and beyond. The emphasis will be on the commercial aspects of beef production and the benefits of maintaining a high health status in beef herds. Speakers at the seminars will include Paul Burr, managing director of Biobest Herdcare, a vet and Willie

Thomson of Harbro; Robbie Newlands, Cluny, Forres, QMS monitor farmer, Gavin Hill, team leader, Beef and Sheep Select, SAC, Neil McCorkindale, Scammadale, by Oban, co-vice-chairman, NBA Scotland, Lauren Vernet, head of marketing, QMS, Alan McNaughton, site director, Vion – McIntosh Donald, Portlethen, and Alan Kennedy, Ewart Butchers, Forfar. The seminars will be chaired by Kim Haywood, director, NBA, Jim Stewart, Kinbroon, co-vice-chairman and Jim Royan, Butcher, Elgin, and former board member, QMS. They will take place at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Mainline sponsors of the event are Bank of Scotland, Billy Miller Contractor and Plant Hire, British Simmental Cattle Society, BVL UK, Caltech, Coltel, Harbro, Intervet Schering-Plough, Tennants (Elgin) and United Auctions while ANM Group, Clydesdale Bank, Norvite and Scotbeef have been confirmed as national sponsors.

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farmingscotland

ANIMAL HEALTH

Issue seventy-six • April 2011

Lamb Disease Threat in May

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AC Vets anticipate that in early May, all over Scotland, Nematodirus will threaten lambs as young as six weeks old. It is at this age lambs begin to eat more grass and also swallow Nematodirus battus worms. The worms can cause sudden deaths, with watery diarrhoea, while those that survive are left sickly and weak. There can be further losses from a parasite causing Coccidiosis with kidney damage causing renal failure. The risk of losses increases when a cold period in the spring is followed by a warm spell leading to a mass hatch of eggs on pasture. As that fits this year’s pattern it is anticipated that a simultaneous hatch of N battus larvae will occur from election day onwards. There is a particular risk on heavily stocked low ground pastures and any grazing with a history of the disease. If the Nematodirus hatch continues into June, hill lambs on improved pastures, which are relatively heavily stocked, may also be affected. According to Ayr based SAC Vet Dr. George Mitchell. “It is important to remember that the parasite can kill lambs before eggs appear in faeces, so if any unexplained deaths occur in lambs it would be wise to send freshly dead lambs for post mortem examination to an SAC Disease Surveillance Centre (DSC). That way the disease can be diagnosed or ruled out”. Where the risk factors apply then farmer should begin treatment once the lambs reach 6 weeks of age. “If the risk is high then don’t wait for signs of scouring, but treat with a

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wormer effective against Nematodirus, but remember to check the data sheet before you buy,” says George Mitchell. “If in doubt dung samples should be checked for worm eggs 7-16 days after treatment depending on the product used. You should find no eggs if the drench was effective. However anticoccidial treatment may also be required”. As the rise in worm numbers on the pasture is extremely rapid Dr. Mitchell recommends two doses at 710 day intervals for most situations. Where there is a particularly severe problem the best solution may be to move the ewes and lambs to low risk pasture (eg reseeded pasture) if it is available. While cattle don’t develop clinical Nematodirus disease, if young calves graze with sheep they can become infected and increase the build-up of larvae on the pasture. It is good practice to have faeces samples from all young stock checked regularly for evidence of worm eggs, not only to ensure animal welfare when challenge is high, but also to prevent needless dosing and decrease the risk of the development of resistant worms. A secondary hatch of eggs of Nematodirus has been recorded in some areas in autumn following wet weather. Casualty animals and/or dung samples should be submitted to check for this possibility. SAC offers a Wormscan service on bulk faeces samples to reduce cost – further details are available from your local SAC Veterinary Centre. Dr. George Mitchell can be contacted via the details below.


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www.farmingscotland.com

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farmingscotland.com

ADVERTORIAL

Issue seventy-six • April 2011

Aerial Spraying & Top Dressing

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hose of you who are entitled to S.F.P and L.F.A.S.S support will most likely have received correspondence from SGRPID or from NFUS high-lighting the fact that among other factors, allowing bracken to create impenetrable or ungrazable areas on their crofts, farms and estates, are likely to be penalised severely, if not physically removed, or deducted from the eligible area shown on the IACS form. At worst the penalty could involve not only the entire current support for 2011 but also applied in retrospect for the years 2007,8,9. M.F.H. Helicopters Ltd, a firm which undertakes aerial bracken control, asks for this to be taken as a ‘wake up call’ by landholders who may be afflicted with the aforesaid problems and who may wish to solve it by bracken control through aerial spraying.

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M.F.H. Helicopters Ltd have been industry leaders for 21 years. And today their fleet of Robinson R44 helicopters, equipped with the latest no-drift Helispray systems and Satloc M3 DGPS mapping, carries out 70% of all aerial bracken control in the UK. Managing-Director Nicholas Hawkings-Byass says, “Aerial Spraying with Asulox to control bracken is at the very core of our business. We have invested a large amount of resources in developing both the technology and methodology to ensure you get the best results from your investment.” MFH is always proud to convey that they use some of the world’s best pilots to execute the complicated helicopter manoeuvres required for accurate aerial spraying. Hawkings-Byass says that “The calibre of our pilots ensures the spraying is as accurate and therefore,

as effective as possible. We are so sure of this, that we guarantee our results with our unique Quality Guarantee.” He adds “Our greatest asset is the experience and professionalism of our pilots and ground crew who ensure all this technology is put to the best use. Our operating bases in Yorkshire and central Scotland, together with our fleet of ground support vehicles and experienced pilots gives us the flexibility to be on site when our clients want, and in the best spraying conditions.” MFH also do hydroseeding. In the late 1990s they were approached by the pioneer Geoff Eyre who asked them to find a way of aerially applying pure Eyre-energised Calluna Vulgaris seed. Given that there are 12 million of these seeds in a litre bottle the technical challenge in achieving their uniform distribution was significant.

MFH Helicopters did, however, find a solution and now several thousand acres of what was white ground are now clad in heather. They have also developed aerial hoppers which are attached to the helicopter and not underslung. These greatly improve the application rates and productivity of both larger seeds as well as prilled products. If you would like a detail discussion of these land management options, please contact MFH Helicopters on 0207 499 2233, or via email at info@mfhhelicopters.co.uk or visit the website www.mfhhelicopters.co.uk. They can advise you, without obligation, on everything from grants to follow up, and give you a quote per hectare or acre for aerially applied bracken control.


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MACHINERY

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

Potato Machinery Heritage

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otatoes play a big role in the agriculture of Scotland and Scotland has played a big role in the mechanisation of the Potato. Today the crop is virtually all handled by machine after many decades of hand labour. Scots have had a hand in some of the designs and techniques used today, especially in stone separation. However we can go back to the horse era to find the influence of Scots in the mechanisation of tatties. While the Highlands and Islands grew potatoes on the Lazy Bed system lowland Scotland turned to drills pretty quickly. Forming these drills were the drill ploughs, made by numerous local manufacturers in all areas but Sellars of Huntly were one of the major producers. The bulk of these implements were single row but a three row machine was produced by T. Hunter of Maybole in the late 1800s. In the tractor era drill ploughs produced by Scot's companies included ones made by Peter Small of Forfar who produced a three row version for tractor use in the 1930s. Later on Ogg of Muchalls and Reid's of Forres made spring loaded mounted versions to cope in stony soils. To fertilize the crop Wallace of Glasgow made the Double Dreeler Fertilizer barrow on ridging bodies while in the tractor era it was Jack of Maybole and Farm Mechanisation of Cupar who built such machines. Prior to automatic potato planters the job was done by hand before the horse drawn drill plough would split

the drills to cover the seed. This splitting was brought into the tractor era with a Reekie Front Coverer that did it all before the tractor wheels could crush the tatties. Automatic planters ended all this complex work with the tatties planted and covered in one operation. Scotland had its own automatic planter in the horse era – the Wallace Richmond planter. Harvesting was a very labour intensive operation initially with squads using graips to raise the tatties, but a rise in the urban population and a new market for ware potatoes brought a need for a more efficient way of harvesting. At first ploughs or drill ploughs were used to open the drills. Then a fingered raising body could be fitted to drill plough frames to do a better job. This device was developed by J. Lawson of Elgin in the mid nineteenth century. In 1855 the spinner digger was patented by a man named Hanson, the design was later used by others including Wallace of Glasgow and Bisset of Blairgowrie with horse drawn versions. While Mollinson diggers from the Forfar Foundry were made in trailed and mounted form for the tractor era as was the Newlands of Linlithgow machine, elevator diggers made things better. Scotland made its own Elevator Digger in the form of the Angus produced by LO Tractors of Coupar Angus in Perthshire. Fully mechanised lifting that put the crop straight into trailers was developed over the years by several nations but Scotland played its part to produce the finished article. One machine was built by Robert Reid of Over Finlarg near Dundee in the 1930s while Gavin Reekie also tried to develop one after the war. Another was the more successful Challenger built in the 1950s by Logan Engineering of Lochee in Dundee. Scotland even had a go at developing a self propelled machine in 1947 when the Anster Harvester was demonstrated by Smith Bros of Anstruther. The machine was built around a Fordson E27N tractor while

later design was based on a David Brown VAK 1. However the makers developed a successful trawler winch for the fishing industry causing the potato harvester development to be shelved despite creating much interest throughout Britain. The biggest impediment to mechanical harvesting was the high stone content and it was Scotland who led the way in stone separation work. From individual farmers to engineering business's the work led to the recognised systems we have today. Farmers like Bill Raeside in Fife and engineers like Wull Scorgie all began very early to solve the problem. Scorgie machines were built under licence by Root Harvesters of Peterborough while a Kingdom

separator was built by David Wilson in Fife. Handling and grading were another area to benefit from Scots enterprise. Elevators were designed by Reekie and Potato dressers were produced by MacRobert, BRH and Shanks of Arbroath who also built their highly unusual Featherbed lifter were two pickers lay on their stomachs and picked freshly dug spuds into an elevator which took the potatoes to a bagger. Today the Scottish name of Reekie still graces the side of modern potato machinery and although based in Lincolnshire this name has been synonymous with potato machinery both home and abroad for many years.

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

EDUCATION

Lambing Live

by Neale McQuistin

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hen Alyn Smith, the SNP Member of the European Parliament, put himself up for auction at this year's Scottish National Sheep Association's AGM he had no idea where he would end up. A day's help at a lambing was what he was offering for sale, with the proceeds from the auction going to charity. The successful bidders at the auction were Neale and Janet McQuistin, who farm at High Airyolland near New Luce in South West Scotland. The farm is home to an unusual mix of livestock with Beltex, Bluefaced Leicester, Blackface and Scotch Mule sheep as well as a fold of Highland cattle to compliment the beauty of the rolling hills, the patchwork of small fields and dry stone dykes. For an MEP that was craving a bit of lambing experience this would be an ideal opportunity for him to experience working with a wide variety of breeds of sheep. We asked Neale to let us know how Alyn measured up as a lambing helper. Lambing time is a stressful business. There's a lot to contend with, what with a collie dog that thinks he's cleverer than his master and Blackie ewes that have all manner of ways of driving you insane. Quite why Janet and I thought we could cope with a visit from an MEP in the midst of it all remains a bit of a mystery. But perhaps the very fine wine at the NSA dinner and the cajoling banter of auctioneer Jack Clark could explain it. But, as the saying goes; in for a

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penny in for a pound. Having secured the services of Alyn for a day at lambing time we thought we would also offer an invitation to Dr Aileen McLeod to join him for some 'lambing live' experience at the same time. Aileen is the SNP prospective candidate for Galloway and West Dumfries. With an area like this farming is of vital importance so we thought that it would be good if she could also experience, first hand, some of the things farmers have to deal with on a daily basis. The 8th of April was finally decided on as a day that Alyn and Aileen could fit into their busy schedules. Although the very busiest period of our lambing was past there was still plenty to see and do. Just to make sure that they could get the full experience they stayed the night before at Airyolland so that they were ready for work at 6am the next morning. I had already been up at 3am to assist a Beltex ewe that was lambing but I decided to spare my guests that particular experience. However, I'm pleased to report that, at the appointed hour, both appeared and seemed ready for action. With a coffee inside us we set off to work at 6.15am. With the “sheep snacker” filled with feed by my two able assistants we headed off for that all important first look round the ewes. A part of me had wished that when Alyn came to visit it would be a foul morning with lashing rain and bitterly cold. A year ago, at that same time, the weather had been hellish and thousands of newborn lambs in

Scotland perished in the rain and the cold. However, thankfully, it was not to be this year. It was a beautiful morning and as we made our way round the fields of ewes we fed them using the snacker as we went along. Usually on that first round of the day there are problems to be dealt with that have manifested themselves during the hours of darkness. But, as fate would have it, when I really needed some interesting stuff to be going on, we found everything was in order. I was beginning to think that this was going to be a bit of a non event for Alyn and Aileen when we eventually arrived at the field where our Highland cows were calving. It just so happened that there was a calf that needed to be tagged, funny how that happened! Legislation demands that calves are tagged before they are ten days old so I thought it would do no harm for my guests to see what a dangerous situation this can be for a beef farmer. My recently calved Highland cow did not let me down! My normal practice is to catch the calf and quickly put it inside the small trailer which is towed behind the snacker. There I can safely tag the calf while being offered some protection from its mother. So, with Alyn and Aileen looking on from the relative safety of the small trailer I grabbed the calf and headed back towards them, just to find that mum was already waiting at the door of the trailer and she was not looking very pleased. A game of chase round the quad bike and trailer ensued but eventually the calf did end up in the

trailer along with Alyn and Aileen. It was at that point I began to think that although I was feeling relatively comfortable about the situation my less experienced companions might not be feeling quite so happy. With half a tonne of angry cow snorting and baying at the trailer where her baby was being held prisoner it was hardly surprising that all small talk about beautiful animals and the wonderful sunrise had come to an end. To their credit Alyn and Aileen stayed calm and never once showed any sign of being frightened, even if they did go a bit quiet. Once the calf was tagged and released back to its very irate mother I was then able to impress by producing, from the carrier on the quad bike, my new, all singing, all dancing, handheld computer c/w digital reader. The cow's number was selected from a drop-down list; the new calf's details including sire, date of birth, colour, breed and sex was entered. With that done we headed off back to the farm for breakfast. We were met in the yard by Janet who was able to tell us that right on cue one of our few remaining Beltex ewes was in need a bit of assistance to deliver a single lamb. Amid great excitement the lamb was delivered; pictures were taken; iodine was brought for its navel; a pen was bedded and a bucket of water was brought to slake the thirst of the ewe. What it is to have willing staff. I couldn't quite recall if the ewe that I lambed at 3am earlier on in the day had got that same level of treatment. After breakfast we decided to tag


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FASTCLEAN SCOTLAND LTD up some Beltex lambs. Tagging lambs is a contentious issue and it was a chance for Alyn and Aileen to see some of the problems that can result in tagging lambs. It didn't take Alyn long to spot one lamb that had ripped his tag completely out of his ear. Others had some infection going on where the tag went through the ear. It did not go unnoticed by either of the two politicians. After lunch I thought that I would complete my demonstration of bovine technological wizardry by registering the birth of the calf that we had tagged that morning. The handheld device that we had entered the information into in the field was duly docked with my desktop computer. The button was pressed to register the calf with BCMS and as if by magic‌ nothing happened. Another important point was made. There is a generation of farmers that can't be bothered with modern technology and continue to work with traditional methods. However, we are increasingly being urged towards using new paperless systems. What my impromptu demonstration of technological failure demonstrated was that with the best will in the world the new online systems have a long way to go before they will be perfect. Had I stuck with the older system recording the birth of the calf

and registering it would have taken five minutes. As it happens it took more than an hour to register the calf. The afternoon look round the ewes finally provided that bit of hands on experience that I had hoped that Alyn could experience during his time here. A ewe had given birth to her first lamb and it was apparent that she was having trouble with the second. Alfie, my faithful sheepdog was pressed into action and the ewe was caught without too much trouble. The lamb was stuck at the shoulders and just needed a bit of a pull to help the ewe to deliver it. After being reassured that nothing would come off in his hand regardless of how hard he pulled at the head and legs Alyn safely delivered the lamb like a real pro. I was pleased, Alyn was pleased, the ewe was pleased and even Alfie wagged his tail. What a way to round off the day. I've no idea how much Alyn or Aileen learned from the time they spent lambing at Airyolland but what I did discover was that you don't get to become an MEP or an MSP without being a bit out of the ordinary. The fact they had taken the time to find out more than might be expected of them about the people that they represent sets them both apart as far as I'm concerned. Both get my vote of confidence.

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Specialists For Over 40 Years


76 MAG 4/5/11 6:58 am Page 20

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

WORLD MARKETS

by Hugh Stringleman

World Markets

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uge natural disasters during the first quarter of 2011 in Australia, New Zealand and then Japan have resonated with commentators who believe the world is exposed to a climate and food crisis. Australia went from a decade-long drought to widespread flooding when the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) of climate conditions in the Pacific Ocean went strongly into a La Nina phase. The SOI does oscillate, influencing weather patterns in the South Pacific for Australia and New Zealand. But it was very strong earthquakes, which rocked both New Zealand and Japan, in Japan's case worsened by tsunami flooding, radiation leaks from nuclear power plants and then followed by very cold weather. Australian agriculture production was disrupted by the floods, which also cut exports. “Loss of agricultural production and exports due to the recent adverse climatic conditions is estimated to have been A $2.3 billion in 2010-11, with significant impacts on production of cereals, sugar, fruit and vegetables, cotton and grain sorghum,” said the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). “Excessive rainfall in late November and through mid-December caused considerable disruption to the winter grain harvest and a significant downgrading of crop quality.” ABARES holds an annual Outlook Conference in the nation's capital,

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Canberra, every March, where it forecasts the annual production of the primary sector – for agriculture and mining. This year it featured a seminar of trade and food security, with key national and international speakers. “Global demand for food is expected to increase by 70 per cent between 2000 and 2050, as a result of population growth and improved incomes in fast-growing, highly populated developing countries,” said ABARES' deputy executive director Paul Morris. “To achieve increased food production in a resource-constrained world, it will be necessary to boost productivity worldwide, which in turn will require new investment in agricultural research, development and innovation. “Australia recognises the strong ties between food security and trade, and is also currently developing a National Food Plan to address challenges and opportunities at all stages of the food chain.” Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said Australian agricultural exports would grow in 2011-12 by about 4% to earn an estimated A $32.5 billion. After addressing the Outlook Conference, Ludwig went to Indonesia for a meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Joined by ministerial colleagues from 20 countries, Ludwig discussed the role of the treaty and its benefit sharing fund in the face of natural disasters, changing climate and loss of

biodiversity. “The impact of the recent extreme weather events in Australia on some parts of our food production systems highlights the importance of safeguarding our crop genetic resources,” he said. The treaty, established by 127 member countries, is a global mechanism designed to secure food crops. It is estimated that 64 crops account for 80 per cent of the plant derived food consumed globally. Members of the treaty have developed a benefit sharing fund, which invests in high-impact projects addressing food security, adaptation to climate change and agricultural biodiversity. Cheering from the sidelines at both the Outlook conference the treaty gathering was Professor Julian Cribb, a former agricultural journalist, now academic and author, who has written the just-published book – The Coming Famine. Cribb said in the book that food insecurity has made an unwelcome return. “Starvation and the wars, refugee crises, and collapse of nation-states that often accompany hunger have not been permanently banished after all. “Indeed, they are once more at our doorstep. Food insecurity and its deadly consequences are again a pressing concern for every nation and each individual.” The high-quality soil needed to grow the food needs of nine billion people by 2050 is being degraded and lost under deserts and urban sprawl.

Real food prices dropped by 75% over the 30 years to 2005, only to rise 80% in the following three years. Yes, there was a fall in prices again when the 2008 commodities price boom ended, but only a temporary one. Droughts in Russia and China, and floods in Australia and Pakistan have contributed to a 30% rise in food prices worldwide in less than a year, and for many commodities the artificial highs of 2008 are against being threatened or surpassed – this time perhaps more permanently. Cribb argued that wealthy nations cannot consider themselves insulated from the food shortages in poorer countries, as price spikes, conflict, the failure of governments and a tide of refugees will impact everyone. He quoted Mike Murphy, one of the world's most progressive dairy farmers, with operations in Ireland, New Zealand, and North and South America. “Global warming gets all the publicity but the real imminent threat to the human race is starvation on a massive scale. Taking a 10-30 year view, I believe that food shortages, famine and huge social unrest are probably the greatest threat the human race has ever faced. I believe future food shortages are a far bigger world threat than global warming.” Cribb outlined the challenge confronting agriculture. “To sum it all up, the challenge facing the world's 1.8 billion women and men who grow our food is to double their output of food – using far less water, less land, less energy, and less fertiliser,” he said.


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Where Is Switzerland?

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here is Switzerland? That was the question that bothered me and my pals as soon as we learned that we were going to travel to this foreign country. But let me start at the beginning of my exciting story. I was born in early spring in 2010 and my official name is “Glenway MFZ 1000019” but my mom always called me Bernadette. I spent a happy, uneventful childhood on East Horton Farm in beautiful Northumberland. Ian our shepherd and owner is very kind and nice but a bit clumsy – even as a young lamb I could run faster than him but then the poor guy only has two legs…. One day he came to the shed as pleased as pudding and told his colleague that he had an order for fifteen gimmers to go to Switzerland. From then on life was getting exciting: He looked at us closely nearly every week and decided which ones would be going. His father also came to help make the decision. And yes, I got chosen! My mum was very proud of me! One of the old ewes said that she had heard rumours that there were wolves and lynx in Switzerland who liked tasty sheep but I guess she only wanted to spoil our joy and

excitement – after all people must have some brain there too and not tolerate such dangerous animals… Our ear tags got checked and double checked and then the vet came to examine us and – ouch – took a blood sample. Finally the great day came: a grand trailer drove into the farmyard and I was loaded together with my pals. There were five other Texels in there already from Castlehills Farm in Berwick-upon-Tweed also destined for this exotic destination. One final glimpse to mum and Ian and – bang – the door closed. It was really a luxury journey. The fresh straw was knee deep and hay and water were plentiful. Even when five other sheep joined us we had plenty of space. These other ones looked different and seemed to be a bit dull as they didn’t even know where they were heading for. I’m sure they were not Texels – no brain! Now and then the door was opened and the driver gave us more water and hay and checked that we all were well and comfy. In fact I was so comfortable that I dozed most of the time in the luxury straw bed – so I’m sorry to say that I can’t tell you where exactly Switzerland is. But one thing is for sure – it’s close to paradise. When we got unloaded

the air smelt fresh and I could see green, lush grass. Again a vet came to give us the “all clear” and out we went into the sunshine to the green pasture and there I saw them – lot’s of other Texels. We eyed them up and kept a bit on our own – after all you never know these days! When evening came we all settled down and one of the old ewes pestered “Pioneer” to tell them about his adventures. Then I heard a sexy male voice with a distinct English accent telling about exactly the same trip we had made. It was fantastic! We all babbled out: “It’s from this place we come too!” And the ice was broken. There were talks all night long. It’s a funny place this Switzerland. Heinz, our shepherd and owner is just the same as Ian: kind and friendly but not fast at running – we can beat him anytime. He got many visitors over the next few days all goggling at us and leaning over the fences, nearly falling in. They must have hard winters here – people all seem to have a kind of throat illness, they speak such a funny, guttural language. One of the older ewes I befriended is giving me language lessons so I will be bilingual in no time. I can already make out that the visitors are full of praise for us twenty. I’ve heard such words as

by Katrin Buehler “super stock, well muscled, great frame.” Heinz is as pleased as punch I can tell by his broad grin and although the visitors are making good offers he is reluctant to sell any of us. He plans to put us on show in autumn. I will remember what my mum used to say to me: “Hold your head up high girl, you’re a pure super pedigree Texel, not just an ordinary sheep.” So hopefully we will make Heinz proud. My Swiss Texel friend “Liseli” (Swiss German for „Liz“ – see the funny language!!) told me that we will soon all go on a summer holiday up to the Alps. She says it’s nice and cool there during the hot months and the grass is green and very tasty, full of herbs. I asked her about the wolves and lynx and yes, there are some around. The Swiss shepherds are not happy about them and some of these predators already had very tragic fatal accidents…. We girls all hope that “Pioneer” the handsome English ram will join us for the holiday. Not just because he’s a compatriot but – oh – you should see him – he’s a real looker. The George Cloony of the sheepworld! If I find time I’ll write you a postcard. Best regards from lovely Switzerland. Bernadette

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-six • April 2011

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CUTTING EDGE

young Far North, New Zealand shearer, who a year ago was considering giving-up his passion because of a back injury, has broken through for one of the sport’s most significant successes by winning the New Zealand Open Championship. Rowland Smith’s win in Te Kuiti recently was most significant for his emergence as another young champion, with no home-town faces in the big final since it was first held in 1985. It came just 24 hours after an ominous Te Kuiti breakthrough victory in the North Island Shearer of the Year final, in which he beat favourite John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and Te Kuiti icon David Fagan. In the Open showdown even Fagan was missing, his semi-finals elimination earlier in the day ending his defence of the title he won for a 17th time last year. Despite the dent in local claims to being the Shearing Capital of the World, the crowd was, however, no less enthusiastic as it honoured the emergence of a new star, and re-emergence of Northland as an unlikely stronghold of shearing power despite a chronic sheep-number decline over recent years. Aged 24, and not 25 as previously widely reported, Smith was not born until almost seven months after Fagan first won the title in 1986. His win followed an unprecedented family treble in which teenaged Kaeo farmers sons Bevan, Bryce and Marshall Guy won the Senior, Junior and Novice titles, the only non-Northland name to go on the championships shearing honours board being that of lone South Island winner and Intermediate winner Brett Roberts, of Mataura. But, based in Hawke’s Bay, where he was born, Smith also helped keep the Bay counter-claims to the fore, along with World champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, who was runner-up, and favourite, Golden Shears winner and Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick, who was fifth. Former Golden Shears champion Dion King, also from the Hawke’s Bay, bounced back to winning form by claiming the remaining honours in an Open-class triple-header, the New Zealand Shears Circuit final. There was no time to stop for six-months-pregnant international woolhandling star and Taihape schoolteacher Sheree Alabaster after she won her fifth New Zealand Open title in Te Kuiti before heading off on a week-long camp with the eight pupils from her tiny Taoroa School. The Senior woolhandling title was won by Emma Bolton, of Taihape, and the Junior title by Flaxmere woolhandler Rahna Watson-Paul, a workmate of Smith, who then cleared the boards for him in the big shearing

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final. In the other major event, Fagan and Ferguson completed a 3-0 test series win over Welshmen Gareth Daniel and Wyn Jones in the Kiwis’ last appearance together as the 2010 World Championships team. But Fagan’s not about to retire, and confirmed that at the age of 50 he’ll be trying to get back into the team next year. The two-metres tall Smith was highly-focused as he hit Te Kuiti for the three-day championships, in which he reckoned his biggest previous claim to fame was being “probably” the only shearer to finish second in all four major competition grades. He was runner-up to Fagan last year, just weeks after returning to competition as he recovered from his back injury, and was also runner-up to Kirkpatrick a month ago at the Golden Shears in Masterton, a more successful stomping-ground with a Junior title in 2004 and Senior title in 2006. He had sounded a big warning with two big wins over the prolific veterans before the Golden Shears, and with two more between the big events was by the weekend the second favourite with the TAB, headed only by the 40-year-old Kirkpatrick who had won 15 finals during the season.. The 20-sheep final became a match-race between the favourites with Smith’s intentions clear from the start, as he banged-out the first five in just 3 minutes 28 seconds, an average of under 42 seconds a sheep. Kirkpatrick nudged ahead on the 10th. It was a see-sawing frenzy, with Ferguson also challenging for the pace, before Kirkpatrick beat Smith to the end by just nine seconds, shearing his 20 sheep in 14min 26secs, but aware the time advantage wouldn’t make up for some rare blemishes in the quality of the job. Ultimately the second money going to Ferguson, with Jerome McCrea, taking a day off from rugby refereeing in the Whanganui area, to finish third. West Coast shearer Jason Win was fourth, Kirkpatrick fifth and Nathan Stratford, Invercargill, sixth. It completed a remarkable season for Smith, who never let-up after he and brother Doug broke a World shearing endurance tally record in January. He would have tackled the record with third brother Matthew a year earlier, but was forced out by the unexplained back injury, which ruled him out of the complete 2009-2010 summer mainshear. “Shearing rams one day,” he said. “I just woke-up the next day, sore, could hardly walk, and it just didn’t go away.” At one stage surgery was in the offing, but Smith overcame the injury

NZ Shearing Championships rime Minister John Key was quick to recognise an opportunity when thrust into the role of commentator and aftermatch interviewer at the New Zealand Shearing Championships in Te Kuiti last night. In a tag-team blast with event regular shearing commentator Koro Mullins and MC Russell Harrison, Mr Key was lured intio the role at the microphone during a fathers-and-sons novelty event, which was won by shearing icon and home-town hero David Fagan and top-ranked intermediate shearer Jack Fagan. But it was another young gun from Te Kuiti in 12-year-old Josh Balme who attracted the greatest interest as the PM made up for his sparse knowledge of shearing by focusing on some of it's ultimate benefits to the nation. The boy was already contributing to GDP and paying taxes, said Mr

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Key, who would have been rubbing his hands had he not been clasping the microphone. Interviewing the youngster and shearing veteran and comic Digger Balme in front of an audience of about 1000, Mr Key promised to send young Josh a card on his 13th birthday in November, and said: "Don't forget when you turn 18. That's a very important birthday, the most important." A vote-catching ploy which might not have mattered, in an electorate which boasts the Government's biggest election majority. But it was also part of a message after the pre-teen shearer candidly admitted the occasional reward from Dad for a hard day in the woolshed, a beer "sometimes.." Laughing with the innocence of the moment, the Prime Minister warned: "You won't be going to school on Monday. You'll be going to court."

with the help of a sports’medic, and later a triathlon trainer as he prepared for January’s record, in which he contributed 562 in eight hours to a two-stand record of 1066. When others would have settled back for the first beer in months, Smith stuck to the training of cycling, running and swimming in addition to the daily hot-summer grind in the woolshed. Finishing second in Masterton just provided greater motivation to triumph in Te Kuiti, where his goal was not only the title, but also it’s big prize of a quad-bike and selection in a New Zealand to compete in the UK over the next few months. Woolhandling champion Alabaster, 36, is also not giving-up, despite expecting her first child in late June. She’s sticking with the pupils through the camp, including a Sunday-night sleepover with the monkeys at Wellington Zoo and another two months before starting a year’s maternity leave. While a couple of kuia have

suggested she start to take it easy, she said life on the farm watching lambing, and a trip through Africa, showed her what other mothers go through, so she wasn't about to put the feet up early. After an early elimination at the Golden Shears in Masterton last month, she was determined to make amends last night, and dedicated the win to father Ray, a former top shearer who died in February. She was first to finish and won by more than three points-from back-to-back Golden Shears champion and six-times New Zealand champion Joanne Kumeroa, of Whanganui, while two-times winner, former Golden Shears champion and Manawatu shearing family mum Ronnie Goss, was third. Alabaster also plans being back on the competition scene in October, chasing a place in the New Zealand team for the World Championships in Masterton next March and the chance to regain the World title she won in Norway in 2008.

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oug Lambie was just in his late teens when the Falklands War broke out, and was far too busy farming and shearing sheep to even consider joining up. Besides which, he only shoots pheasants and foxes! Just over 18 years later however, Doug was off to the Falkland Islands on a mission of his own: to teach shearing and help the youngsters there improve their skills. Originally from the west coast of Scotland, Doug now farms two hundred acres in North Wales with his wife, Ann, and two daughters. At 46 he still does extra work off the farm, driving lorries in the winter and working as a shearing instructor across

Scotland and the North of England for the British Wool Marketing Board in summer. Ten years of full-time shearing has made Doug many good friends all over the world, and it was one of these friends from the Falkland Islands, Lee Lonks, who suggested the trip. Lee is the main contractor on the Falklands and was keen to help his employees by paying Doug’s expenses for the three weeks’ instructing. “He’s one of the best shearers out there,” Doug says. “He could see that there were a lot of young boys – but he didn’t have the instructing techniques. And sometimes it’s a lot easier coming from an outsider than

coming from the boss.” Going on a course is the fastest way for young shearers to improve, Doug, who represented Scotland along with Tom Wilson at the World Championships at Gorey, Ireland in 1998, is keen to stress. “I wish I had gone on more courses earlier, when I was younger,” he says, “but I didn’t have the sense to do it then; I was too busy trying to make money”. The enthusiasm of the young shearers on the Falkland Islands impressed Doug. “I just got asked questions [about shearing] all night, every night until bed-time,” he says. Enthusiastic and talented young shearers back home in Britain are

entering competitions in vast numbers. Is this partly thanks to Wool Board training here? “There’s no doubt about it,” Doug says emphatically. “A lot of it goes down to the efforts of Colin MacGregor the British Wool Marketing Board Shearing Manager. He’s put his own time into the job, he’s very conscientious.” The Board has approx 800 trainees a year on their courses from beginners to advance courses. Doug and his colleagues will begin running shearing courses for an army of keen young recruits shortly. His first course in Scotland will take place towards the end of May in Lochfoot, Dumfriesshire.

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