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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011


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CONTENTS

farmingscotland

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

4

HighlandShow

6 7

Sheep

8 9

Dairy

Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

H Eilidh MacPherson

farmingscotland EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 3TE Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 07977897867 editor@farmingscotland.com www.farmingscotland.com

ugh Stringleman writes this month of the bright future for the sheep industry – both lamb and wool prices. New Zealand sheep farmers are enjoying lamb prices beyond their wildest dreams. Lamb seems to be holding up in this country and wool prices are more than double what they were last year. “We are paying a £1 a kilo for Blackfaces and up ot £1.50 for crosses,” said Alan Walsh of Texacloth. The first couple of shearing competitions of the Scottish season have kicked off in Caithness and Dumfriesshire. Competition is serious as the team for the World Championships in New Zealand 2012 is being selected. Rumours that circulated at the end of the season last year that Hamish Mitchell was hanging up his hand piece have proved to be untrue as he was runner up at the Bath and West and won the Open at the All Ireland and Caithness Shears. Rival

Gavin Mutch took out the South of Scotland. See full reports on page 19. I spent a couple of afternnons at the Royal Highland Show library delving into old sheep shearing records. I found it fascinating and hope that others enjoy reading my findings as much as I enjoyed researching it. A Welsh dairy farmers wife has put pen to paper on pages 8 and 9 and you can read about the new Monitor Farm in Kintyre on the next double spread. Lesley Eaton has been busy covering the flower industry in the North East and has also been in contact with arable farmers from across the country. I’m pleased to say that both Alison and Dawn, who featured in our ‘Get Swept off Yer Wellies’ section are now happy in relationships with readers of farmingscotland.com magazine. If you know of any other ladies/ lassies that are looking for love, please e-mail / post us a photo and some details for a future issue.

Wales

10 11

Monitor Farm

12 13

Machinery

14 18

Arable

19

Kintyre

Forage Harvesters

Flowers, Cereals

Sheep Shearing Caithness, SOS Shears

PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson ADVERTISING – Eilidh MacPherson – 016444 60644 Fiona McArthur – 01583 421397 Alison Martin – 01292 443097

Scottish National

21

World Markets with NZ correspondent

Hugh Stringleman Cover - Angus & Symon Jacobsen Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated Page 4-

small pics RHS

Page 8 - Rachael Thomas

23

Education RHET

Page 10 - QMS Page 12 - Rachael Thomas Page 16 - farmers’ own Page 19 - James Gunn (top photo) Page 20 - Hugh Stringleman Page 22 - RHET

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farmingscotland

RHS

Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

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 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

SHEEP ENTRIES

Henry Derryman, Peterhayes Farm, Honiton Hebridean

‘10

Barry Lewis, 1 Lodge Cottage, Daventry

1673

1745

64

87

‘11

Jacob

Blackface

John Newborough, Moat Cottage, Lincs

NCC Park

73

72

Lleyn

NCC Hill

40

42

David Alexander, Millside Farm, Galston

Border Leicester

52

42

North Country Cheviot - Park Sheep

Suffolk

83

101

Scott Davies, North Synton, Ashkirk

Cheviot

24

25

North Country Cheviot Hill Sheep

Hampshire Downs

33

35

Scott Renwick, Clachan Farmhouse, Ullapool

Bluefaced Leicester

104

98

Ryeland

Jacob

53

55

Ifan Lloyd, Glenbryn, Swansea

Texel

215

240

Scotch Mule

Ryeland

57

57

William Sanderson, Blackshiels Farm, Pathhead

Charollais

75

85

Shetland

Shetland

109

112

James Nicolson, Lonabrek, Shetland

Scotch Mule

49

50

Suffolk

Beltex

245

201

Kenneth J Mair, Kinneslea, Turriff

Blue Du Maine

25

36

Swaledale

Lleyn

51

47

David Hall, The Raw, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Hebridean

48

40

Texel

Commercial

50

67

Steven Smith, Penybryan, Welshpool

Zwartbles

58

62

Zwartbles

Rouge

13

32

Peter Coombs, Three Tuns Farm, near Bath

Berrichon

24

23

Swaledale

38

41

Commercial

108

78

N of England Mules

-

39

Young Handlers

32

43

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farmingscotland.com

RHS

Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

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 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, Tamworth British Charolais Ian Campbell, Thrunton Farm, Alnwick 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

DAIRY CATTLE JUDGES 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

BEEF CATTLE ENTRIES

Dairy Shorthorn S V Thomas, Drysgolgoch, Llanfyrnach Dairy Calf and Showmanship

‘10

‘11

Craig Davidson, Errolston Farm, Gretna

958

996

Beef Shorthorn

137

81

GOATS

Aberdeen Angus

97

124

Dairy Goats

Galloway

27

37

Andrew Morrey, Upper Alport, Powys

Belted Galloway

26

31

Highland

84

115

Hereford

56

59

British Charolais

68

73

British Simmental

87

85

‘11

British Limousin

117

113

147

131

British Blonde

34

39

38

41

British Belgian Blue

72

73

54

Salers

26

26

83

77

49

70

DAIRY ENTRIES ‘10 Ayrshire Holstein

38

Jersey

19

16

Commercial

Dairy Shorthorn

52

20

Beef Breeder

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

SHEEP

The Scottish National – 47 Years Royal Highland Sheep Shearing Winners Scottish National 1955 1956 1957 1958

1955 - 2010 Highland Shears Open

– – – –

Young Farmers Cheviot

George Bell, Bloch, Langholm J Dalgleish, Holm Eskdalemuir A Fraser, Gattaway, Abernethy J Simpson, Glenlude, Innerleithen

Hand 1959 – 1960 – 1961 – 1962 – 1963 – 1964 – 1965 – 1966 – 1967 – 1968 – 1969 – 1970 – 1971 – 1972 – 1973 – 1974 – 1975 – 1976 – 1977 – 1978 – 1979 – 1980 – 1981 – 1982 – 1983 – 1984 – 1985 – 1986 – 1987 – 1988 – 1989 – 1990 – 1991 – 1992 – 1993 – 1994 – 1995 – 1996 – 1997 – 1998 – 1999 – 2000 – 2001 – 2002 – 2003 – 2004 – 2005 – 2006 – 2007 – 2008 – 2009 – 2010 –

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D McGregor, Burnhead, Kilsyth John Kennedy, Glenmasson, Dunoon George Rae, Easter Ulston, Jedburgh George Rae, Easter Ulston, Jedburgh George Rae, Easter Ulston, Jedburgh Roy McKay, Dalwhirr, Kilry, Angus William Lindsay, Carmacoup,Douglas William Lindsay, Bennan, Girvan Peter Alexander, Blairgowrie William Lindsay, Bennan, Girvan Lesley Drysdale, Kirkcowan Andrew Dodds, Hardenpeel, Jedburgh Ian Mowat, Cawdor Road, Auldearn Andrew Dodds, Hardenpeel, Jedburgh George Bayne, Gilliestongues, Jedburgh George Bayne, Camphouse, Jedburgh J King, Gospelhall, Jedburgh J King, Gospelhall, Jedburgh Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Tom Wilson, Kelso, Borders Colin MacGregor, Lochearnhead John Grant, Banchory, Aberdeenshire Colin MacGregor, Lochearnhead Tom Wilson, Duns, Borders Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Doug Lambie, Argyll Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead NO SHOW Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Gavin Mutch, Forglen, Huntly Hamish Mitchell, Norway

Blackface

Robert Love, Ballygowan, Oban D Webster, Binns, Blairgowrie G Struthers, South Halls, Strathaven R Cuthbertson, Dobbingston, Ayrshire

Machine

N Sinclair, Knockengarroch, Carsphairn (B) J Corrie, Park Tongland, Castle Douglas J Pate, Stoboshiel Mains, Humbie (C) W Black, Rottal, Glen Clova, Angus (BF) JA Turnbull, Allanbank Mill, Chirnside J Maxwell, Burn, Thornhill, Dumfries (C) George Rae, Easter Ulston, Jedburgh Iain Mowatt, Newmachar S Webster, Middleton of Glasclunie, Perth D Buchannan, Milltown of Potterton A Allan, Rotmell, Ballinluig, Perth WD Mason, 5 Skaill, Dounreay A MacDonald, School House, Blacklaw George Rae, Easter Ulston, Jedburgh Robert Currie, Haswelldykes, Peebles Peter Alexander, Camster, Watten Robin Whitecross, Clarabad Mill, Paxton Graham Stewart, Fans, Berwickshire James Murdoch, Knockgray, Carsphairn Andrew Dodds, Hardenpeel, Jedburgh Neil Douglas, Arresgill, Langholm William Lindsay, Carmacoup, Douglas Peter Nitz, Sevenoaks, Kent Angus Kennedy, Blendewing, Broughton Ronald Sutherland, West Murkie, Thurso Peter Nitz, Sevenoaks, Kent John Graham, Kirkton, Penicuik Harry Benny, Doups Farm,, Denny Peter Nitz, Sevenoaks, Kent Hilton McKellor, Glendaruel Andrew Robertson, Lesmahagow Robert Poyntz- Roberts, Exeter George Reid, Achnaque, Ballinluig Robert Coghill, Stemster, Halkirk Robert Poyntz- Roberts, Exeter Ian Fleming, Kinnox Farm, Douglas WBR Davies, Sennybridge Duncan Johnstone, Tayinloan, Tarbert Andrew Dodds, Hardenpeel, Jedburgh Andrew Campbell, Watten, Caithness Andrew Dodds, Hardenpeel, Jedburgh George Bayne, Gilliestongues, Jedburgh Peter Nitz, Sennybridge, Powys James Hamilton, Burnhead Farm, Kilsyth Tom Wilson, Duns, Borders David Stewart, Mains of Dalrulzion, Blairgowrie Tom Wilson, Duns, Borders George Dun, Nether Brotherston, Heriot Geodie Bayne, Jedburgh DC Smith, Achallader Farm, Argyll A Coghill, Skinnnet, Halkirk Alan Donaldson, New Zealand Jock Loch, Alloway, Ayr Gordon Gray, Hillridge Farm, Biggar Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh John Dickson, Kilbucho Mains, Broughton Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Ian Dun, Shoestanes Farm, Heriot David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Jim Robertson, Becks, Langholm John Grant, Banchory, Aberdeenshire Graham Sutherland, Park Farm, Dallas Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Vivean Oag, Coribego, Caithness Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Peter Kinstrey, West Linton, Peebles David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Alan Wight, Crawford, Biggar David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Andrew Elliot, Galashiels David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Stuart Gray, Scrogton Farm, Douglas, Lanark David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Alastair Robb, Easter Cringate, Stirling Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Willie Dickson, Duns, Borders Eddie Maguire, Winton, New Zealand Colin Little, Callander Geordie Bayne, Jedburgh Neil McIntyre, Biggar David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand John Robertson, West Calder Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Alan Kennedy, Wester Parkgate, Dumfries Tom Wilson, Weststruther, Borders Allan Wright, Buchanty, Perth David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Michael Simpson, Boreland Farm, Crieff Craig Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Peter Carnegie, Tigh na Blair, Comrie David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Tom McKellar, Auch, Tyndrum Gavin Mutch, Forglen, Huntly David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand David Fagan, Te Kuiti, New Zealand Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Gavin Mutch, Forglen, Huntly Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Hamish Mitchell, Lochearnhead Kieran McCullough, Northern Ireland Gavin Mutch, New Zealand

Tom McKellar, Auch, Tyndrum Zingisele Elliot Ntsoimbo, S Africa Donald McCall, Fort William David Ferguson, Newton Stewart David Ferguson, Newton Stewart David Ferguson, Newton Stewart Tom McKellar, Auch, Tyndrum David Ferguson, Newton Stewart Willie Shaw, Saline, Fife

Peter Blain, Carrick YFC Stewart McDougall, Glendevon Chris Reid, Ayrshire Andrew Baillie, Lanarkshire Jordan Smeaton, Aberfeldy JAC Richard Robinson, SSS YFC Archie Paterson, West Renfrew YFC Calum Shaw, Saline, Fife John Gibson, Loch Lomond YFC


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S

heep shearing records at the Royal Highland Show date back to 1955, when the show still travelled around the country. South Country Cheviot breeder, George Bell, Bloch, Langholm (above) and farmer, Robert Love, Ballygowan Farm, Oban were the respective winners in the Cheviot and Blackface sections that year, at Edinburgh. They each received £2, 10s for their efforts. “Shearing competitions were run before 1955,” informed George Bell, who was runner up in the Cheviot section in1954. “In the early fifties there were only Blackfaces in the shearing competitions, which made it difficult for us Cheviot farmers to compete. A Cheviot class was introduced in 1954.” By 1961 there was an overall prize for the hand shearing. Winners of the Blackface and Cheviot sections contested for the Ward & Payne Trophy. A machine sheep shearing competition, run by the Young Farmers was introduced in 1959. This section also began to sport the format of the hand shearing with Blackface and Cheviot rounds, followed by the winners going head to head. The out right winner received the Lister Silver hand piece, which is still presented today. J Corrie, Park of Tongland, Castle Douglas was the first to have his name inscribed on the silver plated plinth. Tom Paterson, Arllen, Cortachy was runner up. The Scottish National Sheep Shearing competition was established in 1963. Blackface breeder, Donald McGregor, Burnhead, Kilsyth took out the McTaggart Salver, presented by John McTaggart, Muirhouses, Duntochter and the £10 prize ahead of T Ellis, Dunkeld and George Rae, Jedburgh. Donald was runner up in the Young Farmer competition the year before. 1964 saw the first International Sheep Shearing event to be staged at the Highland Show. Teams of three shearers from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, selected from the 1963 National competitions, competed for the highest points (nowadays it is the lowest score that counts). The Scottish team of McGregor, Ellis and Rae were second to England, with Northern Ireland in third and Wales last. The 6’4”, left handed George Rae from Easter Ulston, Jedburgh, rose to the challenge and won the Young Farmer machine event in 1964 and

went on to score a hat-trick in the National from ‘65 - ‘67. Machine shearing fever began to sweep the country in the late Sixties. It became so popular, that in 1967 elimination heats were arranged in six areas across the country, in co-operation with the Young Farmers, to qualify for the Scottish National at the Highland Show. First, second and third place getters from the South West, North East, Highland, East (N of the Forth), East (South of the Forth) and West then went on to shear at the Show. By 1968 Rae represented Scotland at the second International to be held at the Royal Highland. Along with William Lindsay from Douglas and Roy McKay of Kilry, Angus the Scots were victorious. Northern Ireland, Wales and England followed suit. The Young Farmer machine competition proved to be a good springboard for competitors to go on and compete at National level. Agricultural building entrepreneur Peter Alexander (Algo), who won the YF machine section in 1965, went on to take out the National title in 1971. William Lindsay, Andrew Dodds, Iain Mowat, Geordie Bayne and Gavin Mutch are others who have their names engraved on both the YFC and National pieces of silverware. Borders farmer and now well known shearing judge, Andrew Dodds, who won the National title in 1974 and 1976 represented Scotland at the first World Championships, held at the Bath and West Show in 1977. He was the first Scot to make a World Shearing final along with two New Zealanders and three Australians. Roger Cox (NZ) was first; Peter Nitz (OZ) second, followed by John Hutchinson (OZ), the legend Godfery Bowen (NZ) in fourth and Steve Pittaway in fifth. Andrew came a commendable sixth. YFC Hand shearing competitions were phased out at the Highland Show in 1973 (there are no records for blade shearing for this period). By 1976 four from each of now five areas (the two East areas became one heat) across Scotland qualified for the Scottish National competition. Qualifying rounds for the National came to an end in 1980. In the 47-year history of the Scottish National Competition, there have only been 17 winners. From as far back as I can remember Geordie Bayne and Tom Wilson battled it out on the boards. Geordie (above) has

eight National titles under his shearing belt and was placed in the top three for a 25-year period, from 1976 to 2002, while cohort Tom has seven. The duo represented Scotland on numerous occasions with Geordie notching up six individual World Finals (one fourth, four fifths and a sixth) while Tom, who won the Individual World Title in 1984 also had six appearances (a first, a second, three thirds and a sixth). Geordie, Tom and John King were successful in the 1981 International staged at the Highland. Wales, England and Ireland were put in their places! In 1996 Tom and Geordie lifted the World Team Championship in New Zealand. For the past twelve years Hamish Mitchell and Gavin Mutch have been vying for the National title. Hamish (above right) has taken it out eleven times, while Gavin has had to make do with runner up slot. Gavin finally secured the McTaggart Salver in 2009. The majority of National winners from the last thirty-five years may have hung up their hand pieces, but they can still be seen taking an active part at the shearing shows through the summer months – wearing white coats – judging the next generation. Others are now shearing instructors. The Royal Highland Show opened up competitions to include UK and Overseas shearers in 1969 – the ‘Highland Shears Open’ was born. Australian Peter Nitz was unbeatable for the first three years, when Welshmen Robert Poyntz-Roberts and WBR Davies took the trophy down to Wales for the next three-year period. Andrew Dodds was the first Scot to win the Open in the year 1975 and again in ‘76. He took out both titles in 1976 – only one of a handful of shearers to manage to win the double. Geordie Bayne lifted the double twice (1982 & 1994), John Grant, Caithness (1985), Tom Wilson (1992) and Hamish Mitchell four times. “I first competed at the Highland Show in 1976 and won the Young Farmer event and was second in the Open. I was shearing with Andrew Dodds at that time and he won the double,” commented Geordie Bayne, six times winner of the Highland Shears Open competition, recently at the South of Scotland Shears. Geordie has retired from the competition circuit, but still shears in Norway and New Zealand each year. The Intermediate section with the

Carmichael-Baxter trophy started up in 1982. Neil McLennan, Kilchiaran, Islay was the inaugural winner. The Senior section followed in 1985, with Ian Malcolm, Wester Coilechat, Callander, top of the roll of honour. Graham Sutherland, Park Farm, Dallas was the first to take out the Intermediate and then Senior titles, in 1985 and ‘87 respectively. Alan Kennedy, Parkgate, Dumfries followed suit in 96’ and 2000. Graham went on to shear at the 1986 International along with Vivean Oag, Ian Malcolm and John Grant. This Northern Scottish team beat off the Welsh, English and both Irish teams (in that order). Scotland won the International again when it was staged in Scotland in 1991. Stuart Gray, Alan Wright, Angus Dickson and Geordie Bayne were the Scottish contingent. They reigned supreme again in the 1997 Five Nations with Peter Blain, Alan Kennedy, Robert Cockburn and Geordie Bayne flying the flag. This year sees a Six Nations event at the RHS – France was added to the equation last year. Top Scottish Open Shearers, Gavin Mutch, Hamish Mitchell and Simon Bedwell, are the home nations’ representatives. Each team member will be challenged to shear seven sheep against the other five nations. Although speed is an obvious bonus, the judges – one from each nation – will be looking for good, clean shearing with no second cuts to the wool or skin cuts. The Six Nations will take place on the Sunday of the show at 11.15 in the MacRobert Theatre adjacent to the North Gate entrance. A press release says that “it is the main event,” but personally, the Scottish National is the one to watch and the one the top Scottish shearers will be psyched up for, as the winner this year is guaranteed a place in the Scottish Team and a seat on a plane to the World Championships in New Zealand in February/March 2012. Two shearers, at least one blade shearer and one woolhandler will travel to NZ for the World Championships. If there are 12 or more entries in the latter two events, then two from the blades and wool handling will head to New Zealand. The junior shearing, which commenced in 1992, is on Friday. Ian Hunter, who was shepherding at Connachan at the time, won it that year. He recently broke another record, selling BF hoggs at £460!

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farmingscotland

DAIRY

Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

by Rachael Thomas

Dairying in Wales

B

ryngranod lies between 700ft and 1000ft above sea level in the parish of Llanwenog where James Thomas along with his wife Rachael and two teenage children run a milking herd of 230 Pedigree Holstein Friesians and a silage contracting business. “The two enterprises go hand in hand and more importantly provide us with the equipment to allow us to harvest our three cuts of 250 acres of grass and wholecrop silage each year.” The area has many dairy farms ranging from forty cow farms to larger herds like Bryngranod. Sheep and beef farming are also prominent in the area with some farms supporting all three. The Thomas family have been farming at Bryngranod since 1947 when they returned from Suffolk to their roots in Wales. The milking herd then consisted of 25 Dairy Shorthorns who were moved from Suffolk by train. Sometime later the milking was changed to rearing beef. “In 1982 when I finished Agriculture College we went back into milk with 120 cows.” Twenty years later James undertook a further expansion, installing a 40/40 DeLeval Rapid Exit parlour and increasing the herd to its current level. This expansion was

8

made all the more difficult due to two bought in cows later being identified as BVD PI's (Animal Health, November 2010). “We've had a tough few years since then, having our calving pattern altered from autumn to all year round calving because of the fertility issues surrounding an outbreak of BVD.' James now intends to increase the herd number to 350 by the end of this year by purchasing in-calf heifers to add to his own, due to enter the herd later this year. “When we expanded we built a cubicle shed to house 120 cattle, which is currently only half used. “The price of cows shot up drastically whilst we were building and we never reached our required number.” The Thomas's employ one full time employee and one person to help at milking time but once the new cows arrive extra labour will be needed. Milk is sold to Saputo Cheese Ltd, a local company based in Newcastle Emlyn which makes mozzarella for the fast food industry. “High Protein is required and with protein averages of over 3% we fit nicely into their requirements.” The herd is NMR recorded by Rachael. “During the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 I took over from

the recorder and have been doing it ever since.” Also part of Rachael's daily jobs is the calf rearing. “Heifers are bucket reared in individual pens until they are weaned. Whilst it's a good system allowing me to see that they are all healthy and well, it is very labour intensive and I hope one day to be able to install a computerised calf feeder.” Holstein Friesian bull calves are sold locally along with any beef crosses before they reach the six week limit and require a TB premovement test. Bryngranod is situated in a one year testing area. “Thankfully we passed our TB test in January, but already another test is looming,' Computers already play a large part in the day to day running of the farm, with the farm office situated in the house. The computer is linked to the parlour office. “From the house I can sort cows for the vet or AI at the click of the mouse,” explains Rachael, who grew up in a town and married into farming. “I had to learn fast, everything from milking to VAT.” The cows are served by AI using the Genus RMS (Reproductive Management System). “We've been operating this system for over a year now and are pleased with the

results.” Despite the cows wearing activity metres on their collars James feels that the RMS system is helpful. In previous years a lot of sexed semen was used and now that there are plenty of heifers coming through James has switched back to ordinary semen. A Limousin bull is used after several AI services on the heifers and a new beef bull for the dairy cows will be purchased in the near future. All the cows are housed during the winter months and the Keenan Feeder Wagon is kept busy. During the summer months the fresh and high yielding cows are housed. “By the time the summer is out each cow will have had time out in the fields before heading back into winter.” “The silage contracting was an enterprise I started 30 years ago, hoping to provide and pay for the machines to harvest our own silage.” James is pleased with the growth of the contracting business and the Krone Big X forager is the machine of choice. The future of the farm is looking good. “David aged 13 is a real help. He intends to join us on the farm when he leaves school, where he hopes to study engineering. Marian has sat her GCSE's this summer and is looking forward to studying for her A levels next year.”


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Well Cow

W

ell Cow, Bioparametrics and Envirosystems UK have taken the first steps towards establishing a new service for commercial dairy farmers and their team of advisers including vets, nutritionists and breeding companies in the UK utilizing the well cow bolus. The basic idea is that pooling information from all sources will lead to better informed decision making. In January this year at Alderston Mains Haddington, continuous monitoring of rumen pH in commercial dairy herds commenced. Until the Well Cow bolus could be delivered orally reading rumen pH continuously was restricted to home office licensed research on surgically modified animals. The Well Cow bolus stores rumen pH and temperature at 15 minute intervals from within the rumen environment. Information is directly downloaded from the cow onto the readers laptop for collation with other information routinely collected concerning dietary intake, herd health and performance. Getting the most out of forage entering the rumen is a long process starting with plant breeding, varietal selection and sown areas entering the

cropping plan. Soil and water management, slurry treatment and application, plant protection, grazing rotations, chop length, additives used in conservation and clamp management all have a part to play. Finally utilising the available forage supplies through grazing and crop conservation requires a diet formulation service supplied with the relevant information. The rumen requires a stable pH near 6.4 so that microbes can digest fibre with maximum efficiency. High yielding dairy cows may have a massive rumen flux between pH 5.0 and pH7.0. Stabilizing it requires accurate information on the role and performance of dietary ingredients on the relevant time scale. Biopara-Milk software simulates what happens in the digestive tract of a cow on a time step of 6 minutes. So 10 times each hour and then for 24 hours BPM calculates how much food can be eaten, the production of VFAs and lactic acid, the bicarbonate from saliva and hence the pH, the effect pH has on rumen microbes and the protein to energy balance in the rumen. It is a ,mechanistic model of the digestive system.

Bioparametrics Feeding Ruminants Correctly Feed and Forage Analysis Diet Formulation On Farm Advice NIR Calibrations Bioparametrics Ltd Peter Wilson Building West Mains Road EDINBURGH EH9 3JG 01620 820349

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farmingscotland.com

MONITOR FARM

Issue seventy-seven •June 2011

New Monitor Farm for Kintyre by Carol McLaren

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armers who attend the meetings of the new Kintyre monitor farm, part of the national programme led by Quality Meat Scotland, will be challenged to offer constructive management suggestions covering a wide range of farming issues. One of the key challenges the community group of the new monitor farm has been tasked with is finding an ideal crossing cow, which will out-winter, stand the weather and produce and rear a good calf every year. New monitor farmer, Duncan Macalister, owns and farms Glenbarr Farms, 1730 acres (700 has) on the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula, between Tarbert and Campbeltown. The unit is fragmented, being three miles point to point. Land type runs from hill to shore-line, where barley is continuously grown and combined for grain, with in-calf cows out-wintered on the stubble. The cattle enterprise is based on a herd of 140 predominantly spring calving, mostly out-wintered cows. The initial herd was Blue Grey. Following the introduction of Aberdeen Angus bulls in 1995, a mainly home-bred replacement policy has seen the cows develop into a commercial herd with a high percentage of Aberdeen Angus blood. Heifers are calved at two years old. All progeny, other than retained females, are finished. The large majority are sold direct to Scotbeef at Bridge of Allan. In addition, shoppers at the local village stores in Glenbarr

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are able to buy branded “Glenbarr beef ” with proprietor Peter Sinclair buying a number of finished cattle each year from Mr Macalister, which are butchered and sold in vacuum packs. The herd is routinely vaccinated for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). Mr Macalister needs no encouragement to do this. “In 1997 we bought in BVD, losing 35 calves in the first year, with another 25 the next.” Over the last 15 years, Mr Macalister, who is a strong supporter of performance recording, has consistently selected Aberdeen-Angus bulls with high EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values) for growth. One of the current cattle management aims is to increase milk production and attendees of the initial Monitor Farm meeting on 16th March were able to see a group of bought-in Aberdeen Angus cross Friesian heifers which were calving at the time. This project has not yielded the hoped-for results as every single one of them produced a bull calf! A specific cattle issue for the community group to help with is “to find an ideal crossing cow, which will out-winter, stand the weather and produce and rear a good calf every year.” At the well-attended March meeting, suggestions were invited as to which breed of bull should be used over the cows to breed such a female. Numerous breeds were suggested. There will be an opportunity to view the new Glenbarr bull at the next meeting, scheduled for 8th June. This new bull, intended for use over

home-bred heifers, was purchased in May and has high EBV figures for milk. “That was why I picked him,” explained Mr Macalister. “Also the breeder was doing all the right things. The bull has not been over-fed, he's in on-farm condition, been tested clear and then vaccinated for BVD and crucially – semen tested. Once he's out of isolation, the bull is ready to roll!” All the other bulls at Glenbarr have also been semen-tested, to help ensure a tight calving pattern. Grass growth is early in this part of Gulf Stream-kissed Scotland, and like many sheep farmers, Mr Macalister enjoyed good weather during lambing. “The combination of weather and grass has helped us achieve a reasonable lambing,” he said. The flock numbers 600 ewes, half of which are Scottish Blackface crossed with Lleyn tups. The other 300 are either Greyface or Lleyns, which go to Suffolk and Cheviot tups. As with the cattle, all progeny, other than retained females, are finished. The majority are sold deadweight through Lawrie and Symington. This year's cereal crop, totalling 100 acres, was in the ground in good time. Between 30 to 40 acres of barley will be cut for whole crop. The remainder will be combined conventionally, prop-corned and used at Glenbarr. Yields in previous years have peaked at 2.8 tons per acre. Over a third of the farm was planted with sitka spruce in 1999. When Mr Macalister returned home to Glenbarr in 1993, capital was

limited. The BSE crisis of 1996, followed by the loss of a total of 60 calves to BVD in 1997 and 1998, increased the financial pressure. “I could not afford to stock the hill so to make it productive, planted it with trees. Although they're not currently providing cash flow, the trees should mature when I'm in my late 60's and provide some pension income.” Other tasks for the community group include finding a way of breaking up the soil pan and lifting pH levels. A special project is “getting rid of the docks – there are far too many of them and the only effective spray takes the clover as well.” Mr Macalister hopes that during his three year Monitor Farm term, he will be helped in his determination to maximise the potential of his farm, and has thrown this challenge to the community group. “If this is the Golden Age of farming, let's see just what this west coast of Scotland really can produce!” The next meeting of the Kintyre Monitor Farm will be held on Wednesday, 8th June at 12.00 noon, starting with lunch (Glenbarr beef sandwiches!). For further information, please contact either of the joint facilitators:Alan Boulton on 01397 70889, alan@huntawayconsulting.co.uk or Linda McLean on 01586 820226, kilmahofarm@btconnect.com For general information on Monitor Farms, plus detailed reports of meetings:www.qmscotland.co.uk/monitorfarms


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farmingscotland.com

MACHINERY

Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

Forage Harvesters – Then and Now

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t this time of year silage making is starting to occupy the minds of most stock farmers. Due to the vagaries of the Scottish weather silage has become the best option for grass conservation on many farms. Several methods now exist for making silage and in this article we look at forage harvesting. Modern techniques and machinery have now given the farmer plenty of choice regarding silage making although the old methods of making hay have still not been forgotten. The making of silage falls into two basic systems, bag bale silage or pit silage using a harvester of some kind. The making of silage in a pit or in some cases a tower is not a new idea and was not really taken up broadly until the 1960s and 70s. The need for a less weather dependant method of cutting and preserving grass or other crops to be ensiled led to the development of silage making, basically the pickling of grass by the removal of air and harmful bacteria from the crop. This removal could be done in a sealed tower or silo or in a clamp where the crop is rolled thoroughly to force the air out. However these methods tended to be for the more intensive low ground farms in the early years, with upland and small farms having to struggle with hay making because of the high capital cost of turning to a silage system. However the introduction of big bale silage in the early 1980s gave the upland farmer the ability to make silage also. Legislation in recent years regarding the environmental damage caused by effluent run off into water courses has led to some farms switching from a forage harvester and pit system to big bales, as too much capital outlay was required to bring pits and effluent drainage and collection up to scratch. Today's pit systems are now located on modern units for both dairy and beef production with state of the art construction and building layout. This highlights one of the system's main drawbacks, which is the high cost of storage facilities and the relevant harvesting machinery. Although a number of older pits have been upgraded to meet current standards it's a far cry from the days of storing silage in a pit dug into the corner of the field. Believe it or not the idea of making silage in this country dates back to Stuart times when attempts were made in England. Although it was not until the early 20th Century before it started to be made seriously in

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Scotland. One of the first silage towers to be built north of the border was by James Cruickshank in Aberdeenshire who grew mashlam for ensiling in the early 1900s. Gradually concrete silo towers began to appear on the horizon of the Scottish landscape as farmers looked for alternatives to hay and in some cases turnips. which all lost out with the popularity of silage in later years. These high towers with their castellated tops were filled with a machine which resembled the chopper blower unit of today's modern forage harvester. These chopper blowers were mostly made by American manufacturers, who had been used to ensiling in towers since the 1870s. Manufacturers included Massey Harris, International and Case. The early tractors were used to drive them via a belt pulley. Grass was chopped into half inch lengths before being blown up pipes to the top of the tower, very familiar to operators of today's forage harvesters and a remarkable feat for these pioneer tractors. Once in the towers the grass was tramped by men and horses as a single horse was led into the base of the tower and as the level went up so did the horse. The men could leave at the end of the day by the ladders but the horse stayed until the tower was full when it was winched back down. It has been said that an old horse retired from work was used and when finished was shot and dropped over the side. Pit silage also appeared in the pre war years and the grass would be collected by various methods including green crop loaders that filled the carts up and made the man building the cart work very hard. This grass was much longer than that used in the silos and the pits or stacks. The pits could be built outside with earth, concrete or

wooden walls. Various smaller towers were used with this system either built from pre cast concrete sections or wire mesh and sisal paper. During the war several American designed machines arrived through Lease Lend agreement for harvesting the grass in the field and blowing it into trailers. Machines such as the Fox Rivers, Allis Chalmers and John Deere all followed the principle of picking up a previously cut bout before chopping it and blowing it into the trailer. These tractor pulled machines often had a separate engine fitted to drive them. In the post war era British manufacturers had to fill the gap of the American machines, which were no longer imported. David Brown is recognized as being one of the first to bring out a British forage harvester with their famous Hurricane model. However these early British machines were a step back from the American imported harvesters and chopper blowers in that they did not chop the crop finely as they were in line flail machines that tended to only cut and blow growing grass in one operation. It should also be pointed out that silage baling was also being done in this period but with the small square balers of the period such as Bamford, Jones and Salopian. The balers were set to produce a much shorter bale for collecting and stacking in a sealed stack. The system was soon replaced for the obvious reason of the weight of the bales that had to be handled by hand. Throughout the 1950s silage making started to become more popular with both forage harvester systems and the good old fashioned buck rake method of sweeping up the cut grass used. More and more manufacturers were now producing forage harvesters but most of them still single chop machines although there was the odd machine capable of

producing a finer chop one such was the Silorator machine, which used a Hayter cutting deck to cut the grass before it went into the chopper blower. Further expansion of the method came in the 1960s with more machinery becoming available. Another factor in the increase of pit silage harvested by forage harvesters was the Beeching cuts in the rail network which led to vast amounts of railway sleepers becoming available. The railway sleeper now became the default material for silage pit construction. With pits being easier and cheaper to build more and more farmers switched to silage as it was still affordable for many farms to build their own rudimentary pits. In this decade machines were still small enough to make them affordable and many a farm would buy Kidd, Massey Ferguson, Wilder or IH Gloster machines. A whole range of handling equipment was offered alongside the harvesters including trailers complete with purpose built removable silage sides from companies such as Marshall and Weeks and buck rakes from Mil and Twose. Machinery to feed the silage was now becoming more sophisticated and therefore there was a need to develop machines capable of producing a finer chop which also led to better quality and higher intake from the animals feeding on it. Double chop or fine chop was now the way forward with machines using flail blades to cut the growing crop before it passed through further blades before being blown into trailers. These double chop machines came from New Holland, Kidd and Lundell who built for both MF and John Deere. However it was to be the European manufacturers who would have a major impact on forage harvesting. Companies such as Taarup, JF and of course Claas were at the forefront of producing forage harvesters of greater sophistication. By the end of the 1970s a new precision chopped length of grass was much more favourable and these companies were offering machines of that spec for the market. Other companies also offered precision chop options included John Deere and New Holland who remained major players. Others who had a go were Kidd and Bamford who badge engineered a European built machine, Vicon of Holland imported American Gehl machines while Hesston was another American machine on the market. These new precision chop machines needed the grass to be cut and wilted before harvesting. This reduction in the water content helped speed up harvesting improved the quality of the crop and


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MACHINERY

had a big reduction in the effluent produced. Flywheel type machines came from both Mengele and Pottinger who both still offer modern versions today as do Lely while JF are the only other company to offer a trailed machine. This is because today the market is dominated by self propelled forage harvesters, which have taken over from the slower trailed type, indeed a self propelled machine can do the work of five trailed examples therefore have taken the lions share of sales. The big three long term players in the forager market – Claas, New Holland and John Deere – now only produce self propelled machines helped by the fact that they are also mainline tractor builders and therefore have the power plants and transmissions needed for production.

German firm Krone have also entered the self propelled market with its own self propelled machine of massive output and have developed a self propelled mower to cut the grass before harvesting. These machines are capable of harvesting the other new crops destined for ensiling like maize and whole crop, which are becoming more popular. Whatever the crop the machinery is capable of harvesting huge acreages and tonnages in a short time whether it is destined for pit, tower or the new plastic Ag bag systems of storage. This results in the need for a large support team of rakes to throw several bouts into one, a convoy of large trailers to keep the forager going and large meaty powerful buck rakes. The trailers have automatic tailgates to speed up turnaround and

the large buck rake often fitted to the front of a high horsepower tractor or materials handler needs a big roomy pit to work in with a secondary tractor rolling. If all these criterions are met then a clearance rate of 100 acres a day is possible. With these machines costing around £200,000 only very large operators on the contacting front now use them as all the other expensive equipment is also needed. Therefore a long working season is required to justify the outlay so as soon as first cut is completed it on to the second cut in many cases with a third with whole crop and maize extending the season further. Some farmers who prefer to have control of the harvesting dates prefer to use their own smaller pull type machines offered by the likes of JF Stoll. Lely, Reco or Pottinger or

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

perhaps keep an older model from some of the other manufacturers, who have switched to self propelleds, still going. With maize and whole crop silage on the increase it is unlikely that the forage harvesting method will end, however for grass another method is a creditable alternative. This is the use of Forage Wagons which can pick up the cut crop chop it and then fill the wagon before the whole outfit transports it the clamp. It is argued that this is a slow method but it is countered by the fact that two tractors on wagons and one on the pit can still clear a sizeable acreage in a day. However with fewer men and machines the ability of higher output forage harvesters to clear the large acreages of silage grown means that this will be the preferred method for contractors for a long while yet.

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

ARABLE

Flower Power by Lesley Eaton

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he sight of fields of vibrant yellow daffodils is a traditional part of the springtime scenery in Angus, but very few visitors to the area will realise that the crop which brightens up the agricultural landscape is so significant that it gives the world famous Dutch bulb fields a run for their money. Indeed North East daffodils are in demand the world over and in high places, with Grampian Growers working in strict secrecy to supply the 139,000 stems of white, yellow centred daffodils at Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace for the recent marriage of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The company also supplied flowers for the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005 as well strawberries for the Royal Weddings in 1981 and 1986. The Grampian Growers farmers' co-operative started life in 1970 when six founder members got together to look at unsubsidised crops, and how these could be used to utilise existing premises and machinery to maximum effect. They drew on an example from elsewhere in the Mearns area, where commercial daffodils had been grown since just after World War Two, and they set about growing a small area of flowers using seed from Lincolnshire and Holland. And from small, experimental beginnings Grampian Growers has blossomed to become Scotland's largest daffodil producer growing 40 varieties as well as being a leading light in the seed potato industry with both products much in demand on a global scale. Soon after the organisation was founded, strawberry production followed – the first venture of its kind for the area – but after 25 years, the mid-1990s brought industry changes

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and the requirement for significant investment in cropping methods. With the strawberry season overlapping the more lucrative daffodil season, the decision was taken to cease production of outdoor strawberries. Nowadays, the Grampian Growers co-op comprises 15 “A” bulb growing members who have each invested in a £1 share and receive a vote at the AGM. A band of “B” members, who also have £1 shares, comprises mainly potato growers who use Grampian Growers' premises for grading, storage and cold storage during the grading season. Grampian Growers is a non-profit making organisation operated under the Industrial & Provident Society and for every ten stem bunch of flowers, a levy is charged to cover all costs and all surplus is returned to members. The office and first shed were built on the three-acre site at Logie near Montrose in 1979 and everything subsequent has been grant funded. Whilst no crops are grown at Logie, the members grow about 1,200 acres of daffodils (averaging 60 acres each on a farm size averaging 1000 acres) and most are located within a 20-mile radius of Logie, with one exception in Perthshire. With managing director Mark Clark at the helm, the staff at Grampian Growers comprises a production manager, an agronomist, an assistant manager, a potato salesman, a team of three administrative/finance people, and two forklift drivers. During the potato grading season, an additional 12 are taken on with a further 30 for the short flower packing season and 40-50 for the bulb packing season. This work provides considerable seasonal employment for the local community, with many

students and Latvian, Polish and Portuguese nationals making up the workforce too. But Grampian Growers' is far from a seasonal concern and the organisation's headquarters are busy throughout the year as Mark explained: “If you take our cropping year from September 1, we start taking in seed potatoes from our members for about six to seven weeks then grade them for about eight months. Overlaid on to that is the cut flower season which starts around March 5 to 12 and runs for five to eight weeks. After that, we finish off the potato grading followed by a clean down period of two or three weeks then we move straight onto taking in bulbs from the end of June and that will be the focus of production for the next three months. “All three crops – potatoes, flowers and bulbs – overlap each other so in terms of utilising premises, machinery, staff, etc. it is a really good and constant network of products and markets without any down time. For us, the difficulty is getting time for

people to take their holidays!” “Daffodils are a very attractive option, not least because they offer two saleable products,” explains Mark. “There are the cut flowers which are sold in March and April, followed by the dry bulbs. However, they are a high value crop to get into. For example, to plant 30 acres of daffodils from scratch would involve planting about five tonnes an acre at £400 per tonne and that is a big outlay when you basically have no income from it for the two years until the first flowers are cut. Investment is also needed in equipment as all growers have their own kit and you tend to find that most are also potato growers because some equipment can be used for both purposes.” So why is it that daffodils are so well suited to the North east of Scotland? Mark explained: “Our soil temperatures in this part of the world are about four or five degrees cooler than in the south and cooler soil means less chance of disease. We also have longer daylight hours meaning a longer growing period. Daffodils are


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also a useful crop because they prefer grade two or three soil – they really will grow anywhere and after the initial investment in the crop, there are many years of potential harvest and some daffodils will still flower after as long 15 to 18 years in the ground. “About 75% of our bulbs are on a two year down system where they are planted in August or September and grow for 12 months but no first flowers are cut – the flowers are only rogued to make sure the crop is true to type. They then go through a second year of growing and flowers will be picked in March and April before the bulbs are lifted at about 20 months old.” Mark continued: “A further 20% of production is on three year down so will give two flower crops. The varieties used for this will be slow maturing or very prolific in terms of flowers which justifies keeping them in the ground a bit longer. “The remaining 5% is long term flowers which will go down in smaller, poorer or inaccessible fields and they

can be down for seven to ten years and will eventually be sprayed off and ploughed down.” Between 4000 and 4200 tonnes of daffodil bulbs are produced by Grampian Growers annually and only about 200 to 300 tonnes of these will remain in the UK. Of the exported volume, about half goes to the US in 25kg nets, 500 bulb nets or even 1000kg bags to America's five largest pre-packers who then sell on to retail giants such as Costco and Walmart. Some also go for use in the forcing market where bulbs are exposed to period of hot and cold temperatures to force flower production. The remaining 50% produced by Grampian Growers goes to mainland Europe, mainly Scandinavia, France and, surprisingly, Holland which has always been a major buyer of UK bulbs. And in spite of 2011 having enormous potential for Scottish flower growers due to Easter being late, the reality was a disappointing season – due to good weather. “The later Easter is, the bigger percentage

of flowers that go for export because our flowers are later in the season so Easter is a huge target for us,” said Mark. “But three spells of early good weather meant that the flowers came out too soon and we lost 35% of our production in 12 days because of the good weather. It should have been our best season in a long time with a late Easter, demand in the market and good prices but in reality we lost 2.2 million bunches of flowers because it was too warm.” Mark added: “Some of our growers only produce bulbs but, of the 12 who pick flowers, only four would have been satisfied with their season.” But in spite of this year's difficulties, Scottish daffodils have global appeal which continues to ensure strong markets and undoubtedly gives Holland a run for its money in timeliness and quality. Mark added: “A key factor in our success in international markets is that we have a quality product, which we are able to deliver quickly and we are delivering bulbs three weeks earlier

than Holland. Whilst the Dutch are producing bulbs after one year compared to our two years, the one year system means that a full growing season of nine months is needed, meaning they are about three weeks later than Scottish bulbs. “For the US market, it is crucial that we have the goods checked by the American Department of Agriculture before they leave here and that pre-clearance means that they get through customs and on to the customer much more quickly and that is why our products continue to be in demand year after year.” For further information on Grampian Growers, visit www.grampiangrowers.co.uk email info@grampiangrowers.co.uk or call (01674) 830555.

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

ARABLE

Arable Farmers from across the Country

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arming some 1800 acres in Caithness is very much a family business at Stemster Mains, Halkirk. Brothers and business partners George, Donald and Robert Coghill – who is also a local councillor – work with George's son George junior and Donald's son Christopher on 1300 acres tenanted from Stemster Estate plus 500 acres of owned land in the Halkirk area. The farm includes a herd of 270 mainly Aberdeen Angus breeding cattle of which 100 are spring calvers and the rest are summer calvers. As well as keeping replacements, off spring are fattened and forward stores sold through the marts at Dingwall and Thainstone. The Coghills also winter hoggs for various other farmers in their local area. About 450 acres of the enterprise is dedicated to cereals, with 80 acres each of winter barley and oats and the rest spring barley. About 100 tonnes of barley is treated with urea for feeding cattle at Stemster Mains and about 50 tonnes is bruised and the rest is sold on whilst some oats go for milling. George Coghill explained: “We have tried malting barley but we gave up as, for us, it is an expensive and risky business. We have to transport

everything to Inverness and, because we are usually at the tail end of the harvest due to our location, the malters may be full and reject the grain which would make it a very costly exercise.” As Farming Scotland went to press, the biggest challenge at Stemster Mains was getting the spraying done due to weather, as George went on: “We had three weeks of good weather and got everything sown earlier than usual but normally it would be into April before we start. “Usually we would expect to harvest our winter barley about the second week of August but we think it might be a bit earlier this year because it got such a good start. Normally we would be cutting spring barley for urea treatment about the middle of August to get it at 30-35% moisture then spring barley would be cut in the first week of September and oats about the middle of September. We also have the challenge of having a much shorter window because we a bit further north.” “It makes for a long harvest but it is much easier on the whole because we can concentrate on getting one crop done before we move on to the next one.”

Angus Jacobsen & Sons Grange of Kinneff Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire

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George, Donald & Robert Coghill Stemster Mains Halkirk,Caithness

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ith Angus Jacobsen and sons James and Symon at the helm, Jacobsens-gfm has grown to become a well known name based 25 miles south of Aberdeen in the North east of Scotland. The enterprise is based Grange of Kinneff at Inverbervie and has a arrangement at nearby Fordoun, bringing the total farmed by the family to about 1100 acres. Of that, 750 acres are dedicated to cereal crops including 250 acres of winter wheat, of which 100 acres are grown for seed. In addition there are 450 acres of spring barley, 160 acres of which goes to seed merchants with 20 acres sold as seed by the Jacobsens themselves, and the remainder going for malting. In addition are 180 acres of potatoes and 45 acres of shopping swedes, any poorer quality swedes are used to feed the 850-head flock of Scotch Mule and Texel Cross sheep which are bought in as ewe lambs and sold on as gimmers privately, and through Thainstone mart. In 2001, the family took the decision to diversify into the sale of imported agricultural machinery and Grange Farm Machinery now retails and sells wholesale, many brands including Degenhart, Sauter,

Steinbauer, Sweep Ex, Broom-Ex, Haaga and more. It is machinery from these ranges which is used in the arable enterprise, giving Grange Farm Machinery the best possible demonstration options for potential customers! Explaining the main challenges faced within the arable enterprise, Angus Jacobsen said: “Because our land is right at the coast, the salt air and salt deposits restrict our cropping quite a bit, but we accept that and work around it. “We used to sow about 50 acres of spring barley in February and the rest in March, but now it is pretty much all April work although we might be lucky enough to get 100 acres or so drilled in March, as was the case this year. “We start harvesting our winter barley at the end of July and spring barley about August 23rd and winter wheat in the first week of September.” Angus added: “We very much favour automatic batch grain drying over continuous flow drying. It is a much easier system in many ways such as reliability and ease of cleaning and it gives us an improved bushel weight too.” For further information, visit www.jacobsens-gfm.co.uk


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ARABLE

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

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ince the McGregor family took on the tenancy at Coldstream Mains in the Borders in 1927, the enterprise has grown to become a leading, cross-border arable business. Whilst cereals and other enterprises featured from the outset, the McGregor family's history lay in dairying and their roots can be traced back to dairy farmers in Ayrshire as far back as 1709. But in 1957, J & I McGregor was formed and a decision was later taken to move out of livestock farming with the last of the dairy herd being sold in 1965. After various ventures including soft fruit, Coldstream Mains became a totally arable farm and today it is run under the management of Colin McGregor in cereal and potato rotation. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the business began to receive requests to take on neighbouring arable ground on a contract basis and the land farmed now amounts to around 2830 hectares, all within a 15-mile radius of Coldstream Mains and straddling the border between Scotland and England. The business now employs nine full time staff and grows wheat, oilseed rape, potatoes, peas and spring beans. Claas Combines and John Deere tractors work alongside two AGCO Challenger tracked tractors and two Challenger Rogator sprayers featuring what is believed to be the only 40-metre booms in Scotland. “The business has expanded steadily due to referral and recommendation,” explained Colin McGregor, “and as a business we pride ourselves on being both progressive and professional but with strong attention to detail. Too many large arable units adopt a broadacre approach to farming, which results in poor attention to detail and one of the ways we ensure a way around that is by employing our own Arable Technical Manager. “We started with 300 ha and now farm over 2800 ha and I would like to think that the same care and attention is given to every hectare we farm, regardless of the farmed area. “We also use Precision Farming Technology and GPS systems for soil mapping, yield mapping and machine control and we believe the business is the biggest single user of Precision Farming Techniques in Scotland. Seed, phosphate, potash, lime and nitrogen are all now variably applied.” He added: “The systems we have in place definitely work for us and we have proof of that in our good harvest results which we are very proud of.” For further information visit www.mcgregorfarms.co.uk

Colin MacGregor MacGregor Farms Coldstream Mains, Coldstream Scottish Borders

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farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

ARABLE

Donald Ross Rhynie Farm Tain, Ross-shire

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orking the family farm and being vice-chairman of Highland Grain ensures a busy time for Donald Ross of Rhynie Farm, Fearn, Tain. Donald works the 640 acre owner occupied farm and a small area of rented land at Dornoch with his father George, continuing a connection with Rhynie Farm that stretches back over one hundred years. The enterprise includes 350 May lambing ewes, which are mainly Highland Mules crossed with Texel or Suffolk and 80 April/May calving suckler cows calving to Simmental and Aberdeen Angus bulls, with all progeny finished at home. More than 300 acres of the farm are turned over to cereals, with 150 acres of wheat mainly being sold to a grain distillery in Invergordon or a local piggery. In addition are 50 acres of oilseed rape which is marketed through United Oilseeds, 16 acres of oats which go to Boyndie at Banff or remain at Rhynie Farm, 18 acres of peas and 54 acres which are rented out to a local contractor who grows potatoes. The remaining 90 acres are dedicated to malting barley which is marketed through Highland Grain, a malting barley co-operative with 85 members which sells around 40,000 tonnes each year directly and

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indirectly to brewers and distillers, including distilling giants such as Diageo, Edrington and Glenmorangie. Donald Ross explained: “We are lucky here in that we have very good soil so our main challenges are, like everyone, the weather and marketing our grain, which is why Highland Grain is so important to its members. “The marketing side of things is a very big deal and Highland Grain has a good team of people who have been very successful in securing markets and that is crucial for growers in the area.” Commenting on the recent sowing season and his hopes for the 2011 harvest, Donald added: “We started sowing on April 6 this year but we would normally be started about March 20. The later start was down to the weather and the ground not being fit, especially for planting malting barley. “Based on that, we expect to harvest around August 10 to 20 but we would normally be a bit earlier. Usually we like to get the barley in during August but it has been a bit later than that in the last couple of years, and at the moment our wheat is looking like it will be earlier than our barley this time around.” For further information on Highland Grain visit www.highlandgrain.co.uk

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77 MAG 16/6/11 11:43 am Page 19

SHEEP SHEARING

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven• June 2011

SOS Shears a success

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Caithness Shears

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deal conditions prevailed for the 4th Caithness Shears at Quoybrae Auction Mart on Saturday 4th June,when 30 well travelled shearers tackled almost 500 strong hoggs by the days end. An enthusiastic crowd witnessed some fine shearing during the afternoon programme, particularly the four finals. Qualifying Scottish Circuit points (towards represnting Scotland in the World Championships in New Zealand in 2012) were up for grabs in the Open section where a top-class field was ultimately headed by Hamish Mitchell, who now resides in Norway. The superb final saw Simon Bedwell from Garve, Ross-shire shear his pen of 16 Cheviot hoggs from Lythmore, Thurso in exactly 15 min. The Senior event produced a convincing winner in Stewart Kennedy from Aberfeldy, whose control, technique and quality was also rewarded with the bottle of Old

Pulteney whisky for the best-pen. Local shearing contractor Andrew Sinclair, Wick did extremely well to qualify for both the Senior and Intermediate finals but a demanding schedule saw him having to settle for 4th position in both. But the star of the day was Charles Abercrombie, a young Junior shearer from Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Having earlier won the W&M Horner junior competition by almost 4 clear points, he was delighted to qualify for the Intermediate final despite shearing up a class against more experienced adversaries. With nothing to lose, a determined effort saw him triumph to win the Sandy Douglas trophy and give him great encouragement for the future. Caithness Shearing Association wish to extend their grateful thanks to everyone who contributed in any way to making it a successful event.

pen shearers who are vying for an air ticket to New Zealand and a place in the World Championships 2012, were contesting the fact that the South of Scotland Shears had been pulled as a qualifying event. With only a few other competitions in Scotland it may be reconsidered and included as contestants only have to count two results and drop their lowest score. Twenty six Open shearers – eighteen Scots, four Welshmen, a Kiwi, a Spaniard, an Irishman and a Pom, took their stands in the heats. Gavin Mutch, who is home from New Zealand for the season, sped through his six Mule hoggs in 5 minutes 4 seconds, secured the time points and top slot into the twelve man semi-finals. A speedy time and cleanest pen (4.50) put Welshman Richard Jones (23), Corwen into second, ahead of fellow countryman Gareth Daniels, who was third in the World Championships Individual competition at the Royal Welsh Show last year. Robbie Hyslop, sporting someone else’s skin tight shearing pants qualified in fourth place, while Jordan Smeaton, who cleaned up well on the board (0.67) came in fifth. Losing a sheep off the board in the first semi-final cost the only Kiwi, Ian Kirkpatrick, a five point penalty and a chance to shear in the final. He was just pulling his last sheep out of the pen when Gavin Mutch clocked off, with the fastest time of the semis. Simon Bedwell set the pace in the second semi. He was turning onto the last side of number ten when Grant Lundie was in for the catch. With a score of 8.10 out the back, Simon failed to make the grade for the now four man final. The new four stand stage, set across the shed, rather than long ways seemed to get the thumbs up from all parties concerned at the Barony College, Dumfries. Gareth Daniels was first man into the final, only 0.15 points ahead of Mutch. Young Richard Jones was third and due to Kirkpatrick’s error Grant Lundie took the fourth slot. The final saw stands two and three – Daniels and Mutch – race against the clock and each other for glory. On sheep number twelve Mutch was a couple of blows behind, they level pegged for a while, pulling out number 14 in tandem, with Grant Lundie going in for 13. But true to form, Mutch, who has a fast last side dived in for his sixteenth first and had the neck open on his seventeenth when Daniels was just coming onto the board. And by the eighteenth Mutch was going down the money side when the Welshman was dragging his out. Mutch took the time points by 15

seconds, with Daniels a full minute ahead of Richard Jones, who in turn had 12 seconds on Lundie. The final line up was in the order they finished. Gavin, who lifted the £350 cheque, scored the cleanest on the board (1.00) while Jones, who will be a force to be reckoned with in future years had the cleanest pen (6.70). Callum Shaw, who was shearing in the Open for the first time came a commendable ninth. The twenty-one strong Senior heats had six Blackface hoggs to shear. Highland Cattle breeder, Ewan Mackay from Killearn, topped the billboard with the cleanest pen. Dye Clark, who was cleanest on the board was sixth and speedy gonzales, Ross Gibson came seventh. John Struthers, Stuart Weir, Brian Simpson and Rowan Forrest were second to fifth respectively. Brian Simpson, who was shearing for Jamie McConachie in Winton, New Zealand, upped the ante in the semi-finals to gain the time points and draw equal with John Struthers at the top of the table on 35.20 points. Ewan Mackay and Ross Gibson were third and fourth. Stuart Weir, who won the Intermediate just missed out on the final shear. In the final, John Struthers, Greenbank Farm, who was last to finish went for quality control, with lowest board and pen scores – his strategy paid off and he took the Senior title and £175. Brian Simpson was runner up, folled by Mackay and Gibson. Winner of the Intermediate section, by a 5.24point margin, Stuart Weir (28) of Kelso, took on Mainside Farm in partnership with his father a couple of years ago, running South Country Cheviots. He is shearing for Bob King, Gospelhall this season. Neil Sandilands, George Brough, Dumfries and Alan Brady, Dunkeld were second, third and fourth. A dozen Junior shearers from the Isle of Skye to Taranaki, New Zealand weilded their handpieces over three Cheviot hoggs. Eight then qualified for two semi finals. Stuart Davidson, Bill Ramsay and Scott Wilson were top three in the first round. Lewis Harkness and Kiwi lass Erin Lobb in the semis. Harkness went all out this time and scored the time points while Lobb went for quality both on the boards and out the back. In the final showdown young Scott Wilson (19), Stopo Hope Farm, Broughton, who is working for Iain Minto won by just over three points. Harkness was second, Davidson third and Lobb fourth. Singlets were sponsored by Wm Horner and farmingscotland.com magazine provided sweat towels for finalists.

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77 MAG 16/6/11 11:43 am Page 20

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

WORLD MARKETS

World Markets –High Prices

by Hugh Stringleman

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eat companies in New Zealand are chasing lambs with price offers of $8/kg carcaseweight (CW) to satisfy consumer demand in Europe and to fill the restaurant plates during 2011 Rugby World Cup. That works price of $8 (£3.70/kg) is at least $2 (92p) more than has been paid by companies to farmers ever before and values lambs in the desirable weight range (18-20kg CW) around $150/head (£70). Three years ago Federated Farmers of New Zealand warned that sheep farming was becoming an endangered occupation, threatened by farm conversions to ever-buoyant dairying and to tree planting or bush reversion for carbon sequestration. At a time when the very best lambs fetched about $90-$100, the federation launched a “T150” campaign to raise lamb returns to $150 and restore viability to meat and wool farming. That campaign was ridiculed as being hopelessly unrealistic, because $5/kg for 17-20kg lamb carcases was assumed to be the upper limit of the export returns from major markets, after shipping and processing costs. The $5 mark was historically only achieved in the NZ springtime, when the best, fastest growing new season's lambs are shipped as chilled lamb to the discerning UK market for Christmas. As the rest of the lamb crop was finished to good slaughter weights, usually around February, the works prices would fall to $3.50$4.00/kg CW, making the bulk of NZ export lambs worth $60 to $80 to the farmer. Therefore Federated Farmers was claiming that all lambs, throughout the growing season,

20

should be worth more – much more – than the peak price at that time. It said that without a substantial lift in return, along with a huge boost for strong wool (35 to 40 microns), sheep farming as an industry in New Zealand was going backwards. Meat companies countered with the facts of life, while commiserating with farmers, including the figures which showed that 42% of the average retail price of NZ lamb in the UK stays in the UK – captured by the supermarkets (21%), packer/ wholesaler (19%) and importer (2.5%). That left 12.5% for the processor, including shipping and net 45% to the farmer. Therefore the $70 lamb at the farm gate was eventually purchased in various cuts for around $150 by consumers in the UK. Now that lamb is worth $135-$150 to the NZ farmer, and UK retail prices are 35-40% higher than they were 12 months ago. NZ meat exporters also claim that UK supermarkets have reduced their margins, and are prepared to run special campaigns, as NZ lamb is a high-quality meat which attracts store traffic. Of course the whole lamb carcase must be sold, and not just the very best leg and loin cuts, for which UK consumers are presently paying £2.50/pound (£5.50/kg). In that respect strong demand from other countries, in southern Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific, is underpinning the European and North American markets. Lamb racks are selling for an extraordinary NZ$30/kg (£14) in the US and Asia, 50% higher than last

year. Woolly lamb skins are twice the price of a year ago and slipe wool is 60% higher. It transpired the Federated Farmers warning was prescient, as a combination of summer droughts, storms at lambing and farmer disillusionment knocked the NZ export lamb crop down from 25 million to 20 million head over the past three years. Australia's export supplies also fell, while in the UK and the EU the redirection of farm subsidies worked against any expansion of sheep farming. The much-reduced lamb numbers this season have pushed prices to record highs and the Federated Farmers T150 target has been reached, even with the high value of the NZ dollar by historical standards. Fortunately for farmers tradable beef has also been short on world markets, with prices 20-30% higher now than one year ago. Gross farm revenue for NZ sheep and beef farms this season will be 50% higher than last season, and most of the increase will flow into net farm profit, and probably into loan repayments. But what really makes Kiwi farmers shake their heads with wonder is the realisation that all livestock products are at or near record prices at the same time. The older ones can remember when wool was up, but beef was bad, or some other such unsatisfactory combination – but not today. Dairy farmers are receiving $8/kg milk solids, deer farmers $8/kg for their venison, prime beef is bringing about $4.50/kg and wool prices have shown the most extraordinary rise.

For a decade or more NZ strong wool prices languished around $2.50/kg greasy to the farmer, from which shearing costs of about $3/sheep had to be paid. When a dual-purpose ewe clips only 3-4kg annually, the net wool cheque was pathetically small. In gross farm revenues of $300,000 a year, wool's share had shrunk to $10,000-$20,000 and many farmers were actively breeding for lower wool production, perhaps even self-shedding fleeces. But the drop in the national flock, and some spirited wool promotional campaigns along with Asian hotel and house construction, saw the wool market turn sharply upwards at the start of the selling season last July. The market rose from under $4/kg clean to $6.85 currently for 35 micron, in less than one year. Medium wools also jumped up by $3 to $10/kg. The very finest wool (18 micron) is selling for $25/kg, versus $14 a year ago. Much more of this and sheep farmers will be calling the 2010s a “return to the good old days” when annual profits might allow the purchase of a new vehicle, the building of a new woolshed or perhaps a deposit on a holiday or retirement near the beach. Finally, growing populations and aspirations to eat better food, and wear stylish clothing, have created demand for a steady, not growing supply – especially from those countries like Australia and New Zealand, which produce more than their own people can eat. For that big reason, farmers down under are not expecting the latest soft commodities price boom to bust quickly.


77 MAG 16/6/11 11:43 am Page 21

Wonders of Wool

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ool will be in the spotlight at the Royal Highland Show as the National Sheep Association, in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise, Textiles Scotland and the Campaign for Wool, take the commodity all the way from the sheep's back to the fashion catwalk. “Rediscover the Wonders of Wool” will feature on all four days of the show in the NSA marquee and will include live demonstrations, competitions and a fashion show. The aim is to acquaint consumers with the story of wool, which begins on the farm and ends in a variety of uses, from knitwear and clothing to carpets and car seats. The Campaign for Wool, initiated by HRH The Prince of Wales, launched Wool Week last October. The NSA programme at the Royal Highland Show will include fleece judging and a spinning demonstration on the Thursday opening day. Friday is fashion day with a team of professional models taking to the catwalk to show off a range of wool garments, part of Textiles Scotland's New Wool campaign. There will also be a felt making demonstration. Saturday sees the “Baaa'ck to Back” competition where the race is on to

clip a sheep, spin the wool, knit a jumper and wear it with pride in the quickest possible time. The Sunday programme includes a lamb dressing competition, clipping and preparing sheep for showing plus a video display and commentary on innovations with wool insulation. “Rediscover the Wonders of Wool will cover most of the aspects of a natural commodity that in recent times has faced stiff competition from other products such as synthetic fibres,” said Royal Highland Show Manager David Dunsmuir. “However, with a world decline in breeding sheep and significant promotion by the Campaign for Wool, prices are beginning to increase for what is a very versatile product. “With the sheep industry being a vital part of Scottish agriculture, it is only right that we highlight wool as one of the important products from that sector and we are delighted to support the NSA and the other organisations in this show venture.” With its mix of visitors from the farming community and the general public, the show is an ideal platform to demonstrate the whole process, from proper handling of the fleece right through to the finished product.”

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77 MAG 16/6/11 11:43 am Page 22

farmingscotland.com Issue seventy-seven • June 2011

EDUCATION

RHET

“I

get a kick out of educating both the kids and the teachers. It makes my day that I can explain to them how natural food is.” Ian Gillan has been involved in RHET Ayrshire & Arran Countryside Initiative (RHET AACI) since it was formed in 2004. Like many of our RHET volunteer farmers, Ian was frustrated at the lack of understanding of some children (and adults!) about farming and food production. Keen to improve general knowledge about his trade, Ian came on board with RHET as a volunteer farm visit host and classroom speaker, and as a member of the RHET AACI committee. Currently Chair of the committee he says: “It sounded like a good idea. I had run into a number of children and teachers who did not understand farming and I wanted to help them to understand.” RHET has twelve countryside initiatives across Scotland, each run by a committee of volunteers from the farming and rural industries and assisted by the permanent staff, based at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston. It is run as a charity and receives its core funding from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). Other operating costs are covered by grants and funds from a number of trusts, companies and funding organisations, including SNH, NFU Mutual Charitable Trust and the Scottish

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by Nicola Cunningham

Government. On a typical visit to Shotts Farm, Ian takes the children on a tour, allowing them to see dairy cows and calves at close range and to understand the stages from calf to adult cow. Pupils are taken into the dairy parlour to look at the equipment and he explains to them the process of milking through to cooling and collection. When asked what benefits children get from a RHET farm visit, Ian answers: “They can see where their milk comes from and understand that it's an extremely natural process, with nothing fancy or chemical added. It's also great for them to be able to see and touch the young calves.” Susan MacDonald is Project Co-ordinator for RHET AACI and says Ian's contribution is invaluable: “Ian never turns down a visit; he's great with all types of school from primary to secondary to special needs and is really interested in the kids and what they have to say. When the children ask questions – that's when Ian's farm visits are at their best.” In another part of the country, Ann Welsh of Mossfennan Farm echoes Ian's sentiments about the value of RHET farm visits. A volunteer with RHET since 1999, she says; “It is important for the general public to be aware of how and where the food they eat is produced. When RHET began, farming and farmers appeared

to be far removed from the public, who then were not considering where their food came from.” Ann's Scottish Borders sheep farm is popular with secondary classes studying Land Use, with the family now in their third year of visits from S3 Geography students. The pupils spend half the day at Mossfennan and the other half at a local dairy. On a typical visit, Ann says; “We take them up onto the hill and get them to consider the constraints on hill farming – discussing gradient, altitude and climate. We also consider other land use in hill areas, e.g. wind farms and forestry and emphasise that Scotland has a high proportion of hill land, which can therefore be a valuable source of protein production where it would be impossible to grow cereals or vegetables.” These secondary visits are a prime example of how RHET can tailor their farm visits to the particular needs of a classroom topic or subject. Prior to a farm visit, the RHET Project Co-ordinator will discuss with the teacher the learning objectives for the visit and the teacher will meet the farmer at a 'pre-visit', to go through the risk assessment. The Project Co-ordinator attends both the pre-visit and the farm visit. Like Ian, Ann's involvement extends beyond farm visits, helping at other RHET events, including classroom talks in school for various

ages and as a member of the group running the Peebles Show educational stand. She says; “For me, the benefits of working with RHET is that the children are being made aware of food production and that I have the chance to interact with the children and have the satisfaction of enlightening them.” Ann features in a series of videos recently commissioned by RHET Scottish Borders Countryside Initiative (RHET SBCI), which can be viewed on the Scottish Borders page of the RHET website www.rhet.org.uk. RHET hope that these videos will become a crucial tool to recruit the new volunteer farmers that are desperately needed to cope with the increase in demand for their free services to schools, plus to give teachers a window into what happens on a farm visit. Project Co-ordinator for RHET SBCI is Lesley Mason, who says “Ann's enthusiasm for teaching children about farming and the countryside is unbounded. She gets the pupils interacting and thinking, whether they are on the farm, or taking part in a classroom workshop.” Have you ever thought about becoming a RHET volunteer? Please contact the RHET Team on 0131 335 6227 rhetinfo@rhass.org.uk or visit www.rhet.org.uk for more information.


77 MAG 16/6/11 11:43 am Page 23

Successful Succession

by Ian Craig Campbell Dallas ian.craig@campbelldallas.co.uk

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any successful farming businesses have been built up over several generations. All too often however, succession plans for passing the business on to the next generation are not put in place early enough, and in some cases, not at all. Some farming businesses “get away� with not making plans for the second generation, but few succeed without planning for the third generation. The success of a farming business is usually measured in terms of its ability to grow crops or rear livestock, profitably. The creation of profit allows it to grow and expand. Like all businesses, there are usually certain individuals who assume the role of driving the business forward. Leadership is therefore an important characteristic, but what makes farming different? Children are normally brought up on the farm, living and breathing the business every day, and become involved in the business from a very young age. It's not uncommon for all the children wanting to pursue a career in the farming business. As a

natural and gradual step, profitable businesses expand and make room for the second generation to farm. The older generation step back, and personalities of the next generation sometimes mean certain family members dominate the business decisions, at the expense of other family members who are more passive. Perhaps a brother in the second generation becomes isolated because although the business appears successful outwardly, behind the scenes, there is a lot of unhappiness and disagreement. This can lead to family members feeling like prisoners in their own business, and ultimately stifling their and their own children's ability to farm. By the time it gets to the third generation, the business is at a crossroads, each family in the business is pulling in different directions and it is at crisis point. The main family wealth is tied up in the business assets, which is usually a significant value. To complicate matters further, there may be longer term development potential, depending on

the location of the farm. Where there has not been sufficient provision for retirement, those of a retirement age stay involved too long and become a financial burden to the business. This scenario is not untypical, and is often the result of being too close to the business, and not standing back looking at the bigger picture and making key decisions early enough. The starting point for unravelling all this is to explore if all parties recognise the problems, and whether there is a willingness to address the issue. Where a willingness exists from all, it then needs to be established what each party's ideal outcome is, what's practical, making compromises, then working up a strategy to achieve that. Whilst the numbers and valuation of the assets is important, often it's a question of getting agreement on which farms and land can be farmed by the various parties, then fitting other assets and debts around that. Once a deal is reached in principal, it needs to be structured properly for tax, and where possible, leaving each family with a viable

farming unit to move forward. If there is an unwillingness from certain family members to divide up the business, that inevitably leads to a legal and formal process. It is essential to review any partnership agreement, financial statements, or the Memorandum and Articles of Association for a limited company. This should help define a possible exit from the business. A land agent may be required to value the farms, and each party should appoint an independent advisor to avoid conflicts of interest occurring. This can be a stressful, lengthy and costly process, but delaying making a decision just makes it harder to deal with later, and in some cases, may discourage or prevent the next generation from farming. Many of the individuals in the agricultural team at Campbell Dallas are from farming backgrounds, understand the industry, and have the skills and experience to handle these delicate situations. Start planning now, tough decisions and a good succession plan, create good businesses.

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Link Up systems

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n a world with increasing energy costs it is no surprise that consumers are looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency. Consequently, Link-Up systems have grown in popularity, but what is a Link-Up system? A Link-Up system uses either a stove, open fire or room heater with a back boiler, linking to an existing or new heating system. This means that when the wood burner, for example, is heating the living room, it also takes over the heating load elsewhere in the home. When the wood burner is not being used the existing central heating

boiler takes over to provide heating and hot water. As a result, provided the system is set up correctly, consumers will become more energy efficient and will reduce their annual energy bills. It is also worth noting that Link-Up can be very simple and inexpensive if only a limited additional benefit is required. The system can be linked in a number of ways dependent on each user's unique set of circumstances and requirements. For more details call Jim Faulds at Gibson and Goold Ayr on 01292 268 478.

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77 MAG 16/6/11 11:43 am Page 24

TEXACLOTH Ireland’s leading Wool Merchants since 1972

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Issue 77  

Only monthly farming title in Scotland

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