Page 1 Issue eighty-four • July 2012

6 Sheep NSA Young Shepherd 1 1 Texels, Shearing 1 2 Royal Highland Innovation Awards 13


1 4 Beef Beef Finishing 19

Issue eighty-four • July 2012

e have a range of topics this issue – hopefully something to suit everyone! A round up of the Shearing Competitions so far this season – and I’ve just read on facebook that it was a double whammy for the Fagan family at Lakeland Shears this weekend. David Fagan took out the Open section, while son Jack won the Senior. Congratulation to the Scottish lads – Simon Turkington and Kenneth O’Connor – who were first and second respectively at the European and British Young Shepherd of the Year competition. I caught up with Kenneth, winner of the Scottish NSA event before he headed to Malvern for the finals – see page 4 and also page 37 for a press release from the NSA.

W Eilidh MacPherson

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

FAO estimates that demand for livestock products will continue to intensify over the decades to come. Meat consumption is projected to rise nearly 73 percent by 2050; dairy consumption will grow 58 percent over current levels. We have six pages on beef finishing followed by some dairy, including homeopathy, which I find fascinating. I’ll probably have some more indepth feature in the next issue on the topic. John Fyall has delved into the history of Sittyton, where he farms, which as usual is an interesting read. I try to keep the features interesting and fresh – if there is anything or anyone you would like to read about please let me know. Well I must dash and get this to the printers. Looking forward to some time to relax – until the next one!

2 0 Dairy Hygiene, 2 3 Homeopathy 2 4 Cutting Edge

2 5 Monitor Farm

2 6 Arable 2 7 Bracken Control 2 9 ATV Kubota

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3 0 Machinery 35

Eilidh MacPherson – 016444 60644 Cover - NSA Young Shepherd of the Year – Kenneth O’Connor, with a homebred Beltex

3 6 Young Farmers Starter Farmers

Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated

Page 6 - Charlie Angus Page 12 - RHASS Page 14 & 15 - Rebecca Lee

3 8 New Entrant John Fyall

Page 18 - Hereford Cattle Society Page 19, 24 & 25 - QMS Page 20 & 21 - De Laval Page 30 & 31 - McCormick Page 32 - New Holland Page 36 - Forestry Commission

3 9 Rural Round -Up Art, RHET




Skye High – NSA Young Shepherd of the Year 2012 “I was only ever going to enter the competition once, so I was determined to win,” commented Kenneth O’Connor, 2012 winner of the Scottish NSA competition, who will now compete for Scotland at Malvern in the British and European Finals in July. t is this gritty determination that has driven twenty-three year old Kenneth O’Connor to achieve his dreams. Brought up in a crofting community at Borreraig, Glendale, on the Isle of Skye, Kenneth has had an interest in sheep from an early age. “I couldn’t wait to leave school on my sixteenth birthday in December,” commented Kenneth, who had a good group of Standard Grades to his name. Initially he worked at the local, world renowned Three Chimneys restaurant from 4.30 – 12 midnight, five days a week and helped out neighbours with sheep handlings. “I started to spend all my earnings buying in stock, including some Texels,” explained Kenneth, whose parents own a 60acre croft and have access to 2000acres of common grazing. In 2006 Kenneth headed to the Barony College, Dumfriesshire where he gained a National Certificate in Agriculture, with distinction. “I helped fund my way through college by feeding cattle a couple of nights a week and at weekends as the farmer’s son was sheep shearing in New Zealand. As I didn’t have a car at that point a mate used to drop me off and pick me up. I supplied him with cigarettes as payment!” A lambing job in Lanarkshire led to a permanent position for Kenneth and a passion for pedigree sheep. “During my time there I studied at Oatridge College four days a week for a Higher National Certificate and worked on the farm the other three days.”


Qualifying with distinction and as top student, Kenneth along with all the students from the course were interviewed for two places from the Cadagon Trust to visit Iowa in the USA on a College Exchange. Kenneth was successful and on his return carried on to the Higher National Diploma at Oatridge. His farmer boss was happy for him to attend college three days a week and work the other four. Ever the hard worker, Kenneth earned some extra cash on a Wednesday night at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre at Oatridge, initially picking up poles. He then was upgraded to shouting the riders into the ring. “It was something different and great money when I worked weekends.” Once again Kenneth passed his course with distinction and was second top student this time. He was nominated by Peter Scott of Oatridge for a LANTRA Award for Higher Education Learner of the Year and won. A six-month trip to New Zealand driving tractors was next on the agenda for this highly driven young man. Over the years Kenneth has been purchasing some pedigree Beltex ewes and received a second placing at Strathaven this year. Having spent four years on one Lanarkshire farm, he was disheartened when his ex-boss wouldn’t sign the pedigrees for his Beltex off-spring on his departure, as promised, even though he had given six months notice.

Currently Kenneth has five pedigree Beltex ewes. “I bought two ewes in 2008, from Allan Thom and from Michael Russell, Lamington. The latter I bought for 450gns in lamb, is my best producing ewe. I sold a shearling for £750 at Kelso and another at 500gns and one at 350gns all out of her.” Following six months on a hill farm in the Yarrow Valley and a lambing on Buccleugh Estate, Kenneth along with his partner Jenny and their young son Lewis (11 months) have recently settled back in Lanarkshire at Burnhouse, shepherding for Jim Warnock, Sandilands. Competition At Scotsheep points were awarded for placings in each section – 10 points for first, 9 for second and so on. Three competitors scored 10 for the Lamb Grading class, including Kenneth, who also won the Hoof Trimming section and was second in the Question Paper and Dosing and Injecting test. He came a creditable fourth place in the Sheep Shearing, as several seasoned Intermediate competitors were entered. “I didn’t go so well in the ATV trial as I got on and off the right side instead of the left, didn’t put on the gloves I was offered, failed to shift my weight when going round corners and forgot to take the key out when I stopped. These errors all led to points against me, but I excelled at the maintenance as I had pretty much devoured the handbook prior to the event!”

Kenneth has found that people have been so helpful prior to the event at Scotsheep and since his win. Fellow Beltex breeder and Open grade sheep shearer, Andrew Baillie, gave him shearing gear for Scotsheep and Alex McCaskie has lent him a solid dropper to practice on prior to the British and European Finals at Malvern in the first week in July. Kenneth, along with runner up Simon Turkington, will be competing as Team Scotland, but will also be competing individually against the other 24 competitors from across the UK and Europe. The World Final will probably take place in France at some point next year, but has not been finalised at this juncture.

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4 – Issue eighty-four – Issue eighty-four




by Lesley Eaton hings other folk do” – that’s how Thurso’s Charlie Angus describes retirement, hobbies and holidays. As if to prove the point, at the age of 65 he has recently seized the opportunity to invest in 100 acres of land at Upper Dounreay, taking the total he farms to 480 owned and 25 rented acres. The enterprise is based at Oldfield right on the outskirts of Thurso, a farm which was bought by Charlie’s grandfather in 1921. Until 1978 the focus was on dairying but the rapid growth of the growing town onto Oldfield land eventually made this impossible and the decision was made to move into sheep. Nowadays, Oldfield is surrounded on three sides by the coastal town of Thurso but Charlie enjoys great relations with his many neighbours and encourages them to make the most of his open doors policy, with many families dropping by to see the workings of the farm – especially at lambing time. After a career as an engineer with the Agricultural Training Board, which took him all over the north and west of Scotland, former Scottish Clay Pigeon Shooter Charlie returned to take over the running of the family farm in 1987 with wife Isobel. Since then, they have nearly doubled what was a 250 acre unit, adding land at three other units within a nine-mile radius of Oldfield. The land is prime Caithness arable ground offering plenty of grazing for the Oldfield flock as well as 80 acres of hay, 20 acres of which is used at home. The remainder is sold to crofters in Sutherland and a small amount goes to the local pony market. In addition are 40 acres of rough grazing and 15 acres of swedes. Charlie and Isobel have become widely renowned for their Texel flock taking many accolades on the summer show circuit, including the 2011 championship at Black Isle Show – and it all started during a visit to the



Royal Highland Show in 1992. The couple decided to establish their own Texel flock after been taken by the look and conformation of the breed. Since then, Oldfield’s prize-winning pure Texel flock has grown to 100 with tups being sourced at Lanark or Kelso. It is worked alongside 60 pure low ground North Country Cheviots, two pure Suffolks which are the pride and joy of grandson Charlie and the remainder of the 650-head flock is made up of Texel cross Charollais. More than 75% of Oldfield lambs are finished on grass and sold through Scotch Premier Meat in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. Anything not ready by the first week in October is held back for the sales at nearby Caithness Livestock Centre in the third week of October and trade is usually very brisk with an average of £84 in 2011. Explaining the decision behind the move into Texels some 20 years ago, Charlie said: “I really liked the Texels I saw and I’m glad we made the move because the market for them has grown hugely and they do very well for us. Before we introduced the Texels, we mainly had low ground North Country Cheviots and the market for them has dwindled over the years while the Texels have done the exact opposite. “We have experimented with various breeds over the years including Lleyn and Charollais but

they weren’t right for us, not least because the climate up here meant we had to keep the new lambs in for about ten days after they were born otherwise the weather would finish them before they started. Texel sired lambs are much hardier though and, unless there is a really bad storm, they are usually out the day after they are born.” Becoming concerned that his commercial flock was becoming too slanted towards the Texel, Charlie decided to bring home a Blue Faced Leicester tup four years ago and has enjoyed great success with the progeny. He went on: “The offspring make tremendous, milky mothers and when we cross back to a Texel again we get a really good, fast-growing sheep which finishes early and has an excellent carcase.” A key factor in the success of the Oldfield flock is young grass and any old grass is ploughed down and re-sown straight away to be ready later in the year for flushing ewes ready for tupping. Highland Area Texel Club chairman Charlie added: “The ewes get Crystalyx blocks because they’re the only ones which seem to withstand the weather here and ad lib hay from December 1st. Using oats bought straight off the combine locally, we make a home-made mix of oats, sugarbeet, soya and minerals,

which all the ewes get from three weeks before to three weeks after lambing, depending on the weather. We also put swedes round all the fields to encourage the ewes to stay in the shelter of the dykes with their lambs – the grass comes later this far north so the swedes help keep the milk going.” Always keen to progress the business, this year saw Charlie and Isobel try embryo transplants for the first time after being encouraged by the success of fellow breeders. Using Glenside Ringading, the inaugural project involved six ewes, five of which successfully produced ten lambs, some of which will be retained for breeding. Charlie also finds time to run three other businesses from the busy home farm including CA Tyres, which supplies and fits all makes and types of tyre for agricultural, commercial and private vehicles. Set up in 1989 thanks to the construction of a new shed, Charles Angus Engineers employs five people. As well as dealing in all types of farm machinery and new sheep handling systems, the company holds Kubota and Zetor franchises. The business also supplies hydraulic hoses to the marine engineering industry, a growth sector for the local economy as nearby Scrabster harbour attracts more and more traffic. The burgeoning

Caithness WheelerDealer renewables market is also leading to very positive spin-offs for this side of the business. In addition is a division of Charles Angus Engineers which supplies and erects agricultural and industrial buildings throughout the north of Scotland and the Northern Isles as local agent for Nantwich-based Graham Heath Construction, but where there is a requirement for a small building with unusual specifications, Charlie’s team of four will construct bespoke buildings to meet clients’ requirements. Charlie explained: “We set up the business in 1989 too and did 58 farm buildings in the first year. The market is much more competitive now but we are still getting our share. “We insist that the buildings we put up exceed British Standards as we can get some wild weather here. We have fitted a building at Haroldswick right at the top of Unst in Shetland where the client warned us that it

would need to withstand 130 mile an hour winds – and it has been there for 15 years without any problems.” And looking to the future? What lies ahead for Charlie Angus? He concluded: “I have reached 65 but, like many people in farming, the retirement age doesn’t mean anything to me. I thrive on being busy and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity – whatever that might be.”

Congratulations to the two Scots – Simon Turkington and Kenneth O’Connor for taking out first and second respectively at Malvern in the British and European Young Shepherd of the Year Competition – see page 37.



Presentation The South of Scotland Shears Committee presented Secretary of 23 years – Russell Marchant – with a sheep shearing Border Fine Art – ‘Fleeced’ – for his dedicated services to the event. Russell, who is Principal of the Barony College, is heading to another establishment in Gloustershire, due to the merger of the Scottish colleges with SAC. Veteran shearer Herbie Kennedy, who established the competition, made a short speech and wished Russell well on behalf of the committee. Eilidh MacPherson, who set up and ran Isle of Skye Shears, is taking on the role of Secretary.

elsh sheep shearers certainly made their journey worth while by taking six of the possible sixteen finalist stands at South of Scotland Shears, held at the Barony College, Dumfries, mid June. Eight shearers travelled up to shear at the event, which is now counted as part of the Welsh circuit. Three young Welsh shearers competed in both the Junior and Intermediate classes. Alun Jones and Dylan Jones topped the billboard in the Junior heats, with local shearer Lewis Harkness in third place and newly established Dumfriesshire shearing contractor, Bill Ramsay, from the renowned Blackface sheep farm – Milnmark – making the grade, in fourth place, for the straight final. Skye man Kenneth O’Connor, who had successfully lifted the Young Shepherd of the Year Title at Scotsheep earlier in the week missed out on a final shear by 0.23 points. Bill Ramsay picked up the time points in both the heats and final, but the Welsh boys had quality control and the final line up mirrored the heats, with the Scots not quite keeping up with the Jones’s!


Intermediate The six heat Intermediate final was strongly contested with UK shearers from Orkney to Cumbria to Wales and overseas hopefuls from New Zealand and Japan. Welshman Dion Hughes, who had come last in the Junior section, redeemed himself and qualified in prime position for the three heat semi-finals.


Charles McCombie of Huntly, Neil Edmundson from Cumbria and Sean Cursiter, Orkney were next to qualify, with Calum Lindsay (Stirling), Neil Sandilands (Jedburgh), Stuart Davidson (Blythbridge), David Gordon (New Zealand), David Gibson (Gartocharn), Alister Shaw (Saline, Fife), Alun Jones (Wales) and local man George Brough making up the ‘dirty dozen’ for the semi-finals. Aberdonian John Milne and Kenneth O’Connor missed out. Alun Jones from North Wales, who won the Junior section, sharpened his gear and upped his pace from 9mins 51secs over five sheep in the heats and 11th place to 6mins 38secs over six sheep in the semi-finals to pole position and a stand in the final. Orcadian, Sean Cursiter and David Gibson, both found fifth gear and cleaned up on the board to move up from fourth and ninth places respectively to take second and third slots into the final. Dion Hughes took the fourth stand. Sporting red singlets from sponsor Wm Horner, the four Intermediate finalists took to the podium to tackle eight Scotch Mule hoggs. David Gibson, who won the Young Farmer Silver Handpiece at the Royal Highland Show 2011, went for the time points, pushing his last hogg down the porthole in 8mins and 35seconds. David had a two minute, 10 second wait, while the Welsh boys had a photo finish on the 10min 45sec mark and Sean Cursiter pulled his cord five seconds later. David Gibson lifted the new Intermediate

Quaich and £110 prize money with an impressive 7.15point lead. Dion Hughes, with the cleanest pen, came second, with Cursiter and Jones in third and fourth.

Senior Young Stuart Davidson (19) from Blythbridge, who was second in the Junior final at the Golden Shears in New Zealand earlier this year, tried his hand in the Senior competition. He qualified in seventh position in the twenty-five strong heats. Rowan Forrest, Ross Gibson, Jack Fagan, Dafydd Jones, Stuart Kennedy and John Struthers were placed in front of him, while Cursiter, Alan Brady, Sandilands, Steven Tudor and David Milburn made up the top twelve. Like father, like son, Jack Fagan, son of shearing icon David Fagan, pulled out all the stops and qualified in first place for the final. Surprising himself as well as everyone else, shearing for the first time in the Senior, Stuart Davidson was next man in, followed by Forrest and Gibson. Unfortunately for Ross, his speedy time of 9 minutes and 46 seconds was marred by a puncture wound, which cost him the title and pushed him into fourth place, scoring 14.20 out the back. The wriggly Scottish Blackface hoggs tested the Kiwi’s mettle but Jack Fagan cleaned up on the board and out the back to lift the Senior Title and £175 prize money. Rowan Forrest and Stuart Davidson were second and third.

Open Numbers forward for the Open section were down considerably on the year, but last year shearers had been getting in competition practice on the run up for team selection for the World Championships. A quarter of the semi-finalists were Welsh, with Welsh team member Gareth Daniels leading the pack in the heats, clipping his seven sheep in 6min 20sec and a total score of 26.14. Simon Bedwell, who lifted the time points (6m 6s), was only 0.2 points behind. Richard Jones, Alan Kennedy, Calum Shaw, Ian Jones, Gordon Nicol, Archie Paterson, Grant Lundie, John Gibson, Una Cameron and Ross Gibson, made the draw for the semi-finals. Keeping up with the Jones’s was the name of the game once again as Richard and Ian Jones flew the Welsh flag in first and second places in the semi-finals, with only 0.4 points between them. Grant Lundie – “the best thing to come out of Dundee since the cake,” roared Welsh commentator Huw Condron – was third qualifier with Simon Bedwell in fourth. Archie Patterson missed out. Grant Lundie, who won the Angus Open the previous day, led the field for the first four sheep, until Simon Bedwell, found full throttle. He blasted the score of hoggs out in 16m 44s, 22 seconds ahead of Ian Jones. His time score helped him secure the Open title and the £350 cash prize. Ian Jones, Grant Lundie and Richard Jones were second to fourth respectively. – Issue eighty-four


Highland Shears Scottish National: Hamish Mitchell, Norway, 34.95, 1.80, 8.93, 45.68pts, 1st; Calum Shaw, Saline, Fife, 39.85, 2.07, 9.07, 50.98pts, 2nd; Grant Lundie, Dundee 39.05, 2.20, 9.80, 51.05, 3rd; Alan Kennedy, Parkgate, Dumfries, 44.05, 2.20, 7.33, 53.58, 4th; Simon Bedwell Garve, Ross-shire, 36.65, 2.47, 13.47, 52.58, 5th; Archie Paterson, Largs, 39.65, 2.80,16.67, 59.12, 6th. Open: Johnny Kirkpatrick, Napier, New Zealand, 34.90, 1.07, 8.27, 44.23, 1st; Hamish Mitchell, 34.35, 1.53, 10.27, 46.15, 2nd; Nathan Stratford, Invercargill, New Zealand, 39.05, 1.33, 9.60, 49.98, 3rd; Simon Bedwell, 36.35, 2.40, 12.80, 51.55, 4th; Callum Shaw, 40.50, 1.60, 10.67, 52.77, 5th; Tom Wilson, now Canterbury, NZ, 39.90, 1.33, 12.47, 53.70pts, 6th. Scotland v’s New Zealand Test Hamish Mitchell, 32.40, 0.93, 8.33, 41.67; Johnny Kirkpatrick, 34.65, 1.40, 7.00, 41.67; Nathan Stratford, 37.40, 1.40, 6.47, 45.27; Callum Shaw, 37.60, 1.33, 9.40, 48.33. Combined scores gave New Zealand the advantage – NZ beat Scotland – 88.32 to 90.00. Senior: Jack Fagan, Te Kuiti, NZ, 40.55, 2.17, 8.58, 51.30, 1st; Steven Dunlop, Straiton, Ayrshire, 41.45, 2.75, 11.17, 55.07, 2nd; John Struthers, Carluke, 41.75, 3.08, 10.50, 55.33, 3rd; Simon Lindsay, Glenluce, 44.10, 4.50, 11.83, 60.43, 4th; Mark Lyttle, Co Tyrone, NI, 48.60, 6.25, 12.75, 67.60, 5th; Sean Curister, Orkney, 42.80, 7.00, 14.83, 64.63, 6th.


Intermediate: Gareth Jones, Denbeigh, Wales, 32.15, 5.00, 8.25, 45.40, 1st; Scott Wilson, Blyth Bridge, 32.10, 4.00, 9.75, 45.85, 2nd; David Gordon, Masterton, NZ, 33.15, 4.00, 8.88, 46.03, 3rd; Dion Hughes, Corwen, Wales, 33.15, 5.38, 9.00, 47.53, 4th; Alan Jones, Llangellen, Wales, 33.15, 4.75, 10.88, 48.78, 5th; Graeme Davidson, Co Antrim, NI, 37.05, 7.38, 13.50, 57.39, 6th. Intermediate Test: New Zealand – David Gordon & Matthew Spence, 51.30, 4.42, 10.67, 66.38, 1st; Wales – Gareth Jones & Dion Hughes, 50.75, 5.33, 11.58, 67.67, 2nd; Northern Ireland – Graeme Davidson & Mark Lyttle, 50.90, 5.33, 12.00, 68.23, 3rd; Scotland – Alister Shaw & Adam Hepburn, 54.70, 5.17, 14.50, 74.37, 4th. Juniors: Lewis Harkness, Kirkmahoe, Dumfries, 13.17, 3.75, 5.13, 22.04, 1st; Alec Mathers, Tarland, Aberdeenshire, 16.43, 5.00, 6.25, 27.68, 2nd; Lizzie Copplestone, Cumbria, 15.93, 3.25, 8.50, 27.68, 3rd; Adam Mitchell, Stirling, 14.53, 7.00, 7.75, 29.28, 4th; Kenneth O’Connor, Isle of Skye, 17.20, 9.75, 8.63, 35.58, 5th; John Brown, New Deer, Aberdeenshire, 16.07, 10.00, 11.13, 37.19, 6th. Young Farmers: Scott Wilson, Biggar YFC, 10.90, 3.67, 8.25, 22.82, 1st; Sean Curister, Harray YFC, 12.88, 4.00, 6.42, 23.29, 2nd; Lewis Harkness, Lower Nithsdale, YFC, 13.50, 4.17, 6.33, 24.00, 3rd; William Hurcomb, Stranraer & Rhins YFC, 11.93, 5.00, 7.25, 24.18, 4th; Alister Shaw, West

Fife YFC, 13.38, 4.17, 9.50, 27.04, 5th; Jimmy Wright, Aberfeldy JAC, 12.25, 4.50, 10.67, 27.42, 6th. Blades: Willie Craig, Broughton, 42.95, 3.25, 17.88, 64.08, 1st; Mark Armstrong, Killin, 42.90, 3.50, 19.13, 65.53, 2nd; Peter Bland, Cumbria, 41.35, 2.00, 28.00, 71.35, 3rd, Alan Grant, Tomintoul, 34.55, 3.00, 34.88, 72.43, 4th; Elfed Jackson, Bangour, Wales, 31.00, 4.50, 37.88, 73.38, 5th; Jimmy Wright, Doune, 37.80, 5.00, 38.50, 79.30, 6th. Open Wool Handling: Leanne Bertram, Lockerbie, 69.20, 1st; Linda McCullough, Tayinloan, Argyll, 69.50, 2nd; Catriona Donald, Fettercairn, 70.20, 3rd;Una Cameron, Bonchester Bridge, 4th, Stacey Mundell, Fintry, 5th, Helga Sinclair, Caithness, 6th Novice Wool Handling: Geordie Bayne, Bonchester Bridge, 53.00, 1st; Millie Green, Jedburgh, 89.40, 2nd; Rhiann Jones, Powys, Wales, 96.20, 3rd.

Texacloth Lesmahagow Speedshear Shears

David Gibson, inaugural winner of the Quaich for Intermediate Class

Lochearnhead Shears olden Shears and New Zealand shearing champion John Kirkpatrick won his second Scottish Blackface Open Title at the 20th Lochearnhead Shears. Beaten by 25 seconds in the race for time honours as Simon Bedwell of Garve, Ross-shire was first to finish the 17-sheep final in 11 minutes 49 seconds, the Napier gun claimed the better quality points to repeat a win he had on the same stage in 2004. He had also been runner-up in 2008 and third in 2002 and the win made it two-from-two on the current Shearing Sports New Zealand team tour after his victory at the Royal Highland Open in Edinburgh. Bedwell took second, heading up-and-coming fellow countryman and new Scottish International Calum Shaw and the fourth finalist, Kiwi icon and five-times winner David Fagan, of Te Kuiti. Scottish World Championshsips team member and defending champion Hamish Mitchell, going for a third win in four years, was a surprise absentee from the final, after leading the qualifiers for the semi-finals. In the second of two test matches against Scotland, Kirkpatrick and Shearing Sports NZ teammate

G – Issue eighty-four

Nathan Stratford were unable to repeat their win of a week earlier and had to settle for a squared series against the Scottish pairing of Mitchell and young Calum Shaw. The latter proved to be a promising replacement for new World champion Gavin Mutch, the Aberdeenshire gun, who has remained at home on his farm in Taranaki for the Southern Hemisphere winter. Kirkpatrick was first off the board and scored the best quality points in the 15-sheep match, which he shore in 11min 18sec, heading Mitchell by 10 seconds. But with Stratford less familiar with the local sheep, Scotland was able to claim its third win over New Zealand at Lochearnhead in three years. Meanwhile, Fagan’s son, Jack, won the Scottish Blackface Senior Title, his third big win in the UK this season and Masterton shearer David Gordon was runner-up in the Intermediate final, won by young Scottish shearer Scott Wilson. David Fagan, Dannevirke shearer Paerata Abraham and Open-class rookie Ant Frew, from North Otago, shore together in an Invitation Relay, finishing second to the Scottish trio of former World champion and New

eading Irish Wool Merchants – Texacloth sponsored the inaugural Lesmahagow Speed Shear at the beginning of the shearing season. A strong turnout of shearers, from across the country, put their skills to the test to win their share of the £2000 prize money. Grant Lundie of Dundee took out the Open/Senior section, while George Brough from Dumfries won the Junior/ Intermediate class.


RESULTS Junior: Lewis Harkness, Dumfries, 26.025pts,1st; Stuart Davidson, Blythe Bridge, 29.06, 2nd; Callam Lynesy, Stirling, 33.71, 3rd. Intermediate: George Brough, Dumfries, 29.6, 1st; Perry McNicholl, Ireland, 32.25, 2nd; Sandy McKellar, Tyndrum, 33.95, 3rd Senior: John Struthers, Carluke, 38.03, 1st; Dye Clark, Lesmahagow, 41.35, 2nd; Rowan Forest, Edinburgh, 43.55, 3rd. Open: Simon Bedwell, Garve, 45.905, 1st; Grant Lundie, Dundee, 48.235, 2nd; Adam Berry, England, 48.982, 3rd. Simon finished his 16 sheep in 12 minutes, while Adam Berry had the cleanest pen.

Zealand-based shearing instructor Tom Wilson, Simon Bedwell and Grant Lundie. Despite wide international representation, the Kiwis joined by others from such countries as France, Spain and Germany, as well as the Home Nations, entries were down slightly, as the event clashed with the Irish Circuit finals. Scottish team member Stacey Mundell retained her woolhandling title in an all-Scotland final. A Blade Test between Scotland and Wales saw the Scottish team, who did so well at the World Championships in New Zealand victorius again, with combined scores of 113.15, verus 119.51 from the Welsh team of Elfed Jackson and Rheinalt Hughes. An encouragingly strong field of nineteen Juniors took to the boards. Local lad Fulton Ronald, whose grandfather, of the same name, farms near Crianlarich, topped the heats followed by Cumbrian Jack Cartmell, Doon Hamer – Lewis Harkness and Callum Lindsay of Stirling. David Keane, Robert McKellar, Sam Jacobs and Gast Eberhardt of Germany also made the semi-finals. Fulton remained in top spot for the semi-finals, Lewis and Jack switched places and David Keane from Northern Ireland upped the ante and secured a slot in the four man final. It was Lewis Harkness, from South West Scotland, who is shearing with Alan Kennedy this season, who lifted the cash, sash and silverware. The cleanest pen sealed the deal for

Lewis, who was one of only two from Scotland, nominated for the BBC’s Young Farmer of the Year recently. Irishman David Keane took second place with the tidest job on the boards, while Ronald and Cartmell went for speed, but roughed up out the back. RESULTS: Test (15 sheep): Scotland 88.4pts (Calum Shaw 11min 28sec, 44.1pts; Hamish Mitchell 11min 22sec, 44.3pts) beat New Zealand 89.9pts (John Kirkpatrick 11min 18sec, 42.6pts; Nathan Stratford 12min 43sec, 47.3pts). Invitation Relay (12 sheep): Scotland (Simon Bedwell, Grant Lundie, Tom Wilson) 10min 17sec, 39.1pts, 1; NZ (David Fagan, Ant Frew, Paerata Abraham) 10min 47sec, 42.6pts, 2; Southern Counties (Rhys Jones, Robin Roberts, Mark Fox) 11min 3osec, 44.3pts, 3; Rest of the World (Luis Sorossal, Stefan Bourne, Stewart Pullin) 12min 15sec, 49.6pts, 4 Scottish Blackface Open Final (17 sheep): John Kirkpatrick (Napier NZ) 12min 14sec, 45.17pts, 1; Simon Bedwell (Garve, Ross-shire) 11min 49sec, 46.33pts, 2; Calum Shaw (Saline, Fife) 13min 10sec, 47.79pts, 3; David Fagan (Te Kuiti, NZ) 13min 18sec, 50.61pts, 4. Scottish Blackface Senior Final (10 sheep): Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti, NZ) 10min 39sec,41.65pts, 1; Brian Simpson (Blairgowrie) 9min 51sec, 41.85pts, 2; Stewart Kennedy (Aberfeldy) 10min 55sec, 42.65pts, 3; Dafydd Jones (Corwen, Wales) 10min 24sec, 43.6pts, 4. Scottish Blackface Intermediate Final (6 sheep): Scott Wilson (Broughton) 7min 11sec, 29.72pts, 1; David Gordon (Masterton, NZ) 7min 14sec, 31.03pts, 2; Stuart Davidson (Blyth Bridge) l7min 13sec, 34.65pts, 3; Alister Shaw (Saline) 8min 1sec, 36.22pts, 4. Scottish Blackface Junior Final (5 sheep): Lewis Harkness (Dumfries) 9min 15sec, 31.6pts, 1; David Keane (Newport, Republic of Ireland) 10min 15sec, 33.5pts, 2; Fulton Ronald (Crianlarich) 6min 27sec, 32.9pts, 3; Jack Cartmell (Keswick) 7min 8sec, 39.37pts, 4. Open Woolhandling Final: Stacey Mundell (Fintry) 26pts, 1 Leanne Bertram (Lanarkshire) 26.46pts, 2; Kirsty Donald (Edzell) 27.86pts, 3; Dawn MacKinnon (Bathgate) 37.2pts, 4.



RHS Technology Innovation Awards 2012

he Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has awarded one gold medal, seven silver medals and two certificates of commendation under its Technical Innovation Award scheme for 2012. The gold award, which is presented for continuous outstanding merit to a previous silver medal winner, has gone to Pottinger UK from Ivybridge in Devon with their Novacat 301 Alpha Motion ED Mower. The frontmounted mower was introduced in 2006 when it won a silver medal. The new model retains many original features but now includes a high hood tine conditioner designed to cope with bulky late cut crops,


thereby using less horse power and fuel. The unique design of the alpha motion suspension allows the mower to move almost vertically in work. Greasing intervals for the PTO shafts have been extended to 150 hours. Silver medals have been awarded to two feed management systems including one entered from the Netherlands, an EID and weighing conveyor for sheep, a remotely controlled cattle crush and a potato planter. Two awards have gone to RGS Forfar Ltd for their quick change blade system for rotary bed tillers and open front stone and clod separator. The awards – sponsored by the Hillhouse Quarry Group Ltd – attracted one of the highest number

ever of entries. They encourage and recognise innovation in the design and manufacture of machines, equipment and appliances which advance the effective and efficient practice of agriculture, horticulture, equestrian, forestry and estates services. The awards are the oldest presented by the RHASS, which gave its first “premium” for an implement in 1793 to a “new-invented plough of an improved construction adapted for the culture of Highland farms.” RHASS Director John Mackie, Dalfibble, Parkgate, Dumfries, who chairs the Technical Innovation Assessment Panel, said: “We were very impressed with the level and

quality of entries. The awards are obviously regarded as a prestigious accolade by both designers and manufacturers. “With less labour on farms and estates these days, the efficiency and ease of operation of machinery and equipment is all important – factors that were fully demonstrated by each of our award winners.” Panel members were RHASS Directors James Dunlop, Bishopton, Kirkcudbright; Hugh Fraser, Kinchyle, Scaniport, Inverness; Angus Howie, Millhouse, Dunning; Colin Lowrie, Blegbie, Humbie; Andrew Reid, The Hillock Farm, Drumsturdy Road, Kingennie and Christo Shepherd, Pitmillan, Newburgh, Ellon.

The medal awards are as follows:

Pottinger Novacat 301 Alpha Motion ED Pottinger UK, Redlake, Ivybridge, Devon

12 – Issue eighty-four

6’ EID & Weighing Conveyor DM Handling Systems, Wester Bowhouse Farm, Maddiston, Falkirk The conveyor system allows hands-free EID and weighing while still able to work with sheep for all jobs – stress free handling for animal and farmer.

Structural MS2000 Hillmaster Miedema Mercer Machinery, Bowley Court Farms, Hope Under Dinmore, Leominster This new generation of belt planter has been designed to cope with slopes with ease. The planting elements which carry the seed forward to be planted are connected to a hydraulic ram and a fluid switch which allows the decks to automatically self level.

Quick Change Blade System RGS Forfar Ltd., East Mains of Burnside, Forfar Designed for ease of change of the rotor blade on a bed tiller by releasing spring clips with the tools supplied. Once new blade is inserted, pin and retaining clip are re-inserted. No nuts or bolts to remove and replace.

TFM Tracker Triolet Mullos BV, Hinmanweg, Oldenzaal, Netherlands Feed management system providing livestock farmers with total solution to managing feed costs. Management tools include operator control, stock management, online data exchange with nutritionists and reports showing trends in feeding and costs development.

Scanstone Open Front Stone & Clod Separator RGS Forfar Ltd., East Mains of Burnside, Forfar The innovative feature of the separator is that it neither uses an intake rotor or diablo to assist the soil to feed into the front of the machine leaving the mouth completely open for clear visibility to the operator.

Certificates of Commendation: Sheepeze

Hydraulic Cattle Crush – Remotely Controlled Glendale Engineering (Milfield) Ltd., Berwick Rd Industrial Estate, Wooler, Northumberland The introduction of remote control means that when the animal is squeezed it cannot move, making it safer and more efficient for the operative so the job can be completed quicker. – Issue eighty-four

TH Jenkinson, Whiteford Hill Cattle Market, Ayr One man operated mobile sheep handling unit.

G-Lime Acheson & Glover, Crievehill Road, Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone A balanced granular lime containing calcium and magnesium.




Meeting Beef Specifications in Fife One Fife farmer whose positive supplier relationship with ABP underpins his successful beef finishing enterprise is Willie Barr, Halhill Farm, Collessie, near Cupar. he Barr family have been farming at Halhill for nearly seventy years since Willie’s grandfather moved from Roberton Mains near Biggar in 1943. The business is a family partnership run with wife Deirdre, his parents Andrew and Margaret and with support from 2 full time staff and seasonal help at lambing and harvest. Over 200 beef cattle are finished each year on this 980acre arable and stock rearing farm and every beef animal sold goes to ABP through procurement specialist, Malcolm MacDiarmid. Willie says, “I’m committed to deadweight selling; it’s in the best interest of the cattle to leave the farm and go straight to ABP in Perth. I’m limiting the stress involved, reducing the costs of intermediaries and am paid for every kg of beef produced.” Procurement Willie buys all the store cattle, selecting them himself from Forfar, Lanark and St Boswells auction markets during October. “In order



to satisfy customer specifications our finished cattle must be R4L or better. I’m looking for a store animal I know will thrive on our system and go on to produce a carcass of this specification. The auction system is the best and fairest way to purchase stores and I regularly bring home animals from the same farms each year. Charolais are my first choice for optimum growth and performance and I also buy Simmentals. Steers from 10 – 14 months old are sought and they need to be about 400kg – 450kg by this stage to fit into our system. To achieve my aim of supplying ABP with 100% of my stock at R4L grade or better I look for length and good confirmation, it’s got to have a decent back side.” His strategy works as he regularly achieves this goal and last year over 40% killed out at a U grade achieving a premium of 6p per kg over the R specification. Willie’s convinced that this premium is not sufficient to provide an incentive to move to an increased supply of U grade carcasses,

he comments, “U grade killing out percentages are typically in the region of 60%, that’s up to 5% more than a R grade carcass and 10% more than an O grade carcass so I’d expect returns greater than those currently on offer to consider altering my current strategy.” Rations Stores numbering 233 went into the shed in October 2011 and Willie explains they retain a traditional feeding system based on silage, straw and homegrown barley. Silage is taken from second and third year leys according to requirements and grass available. This year Halhill has enjoyed excellent grass growth so one cut will fill the three 600t silage pits and second cut will be baled and wrapped. 150t of homegrown barley is stored in a grain silo, the barley is bruised and then home mixed with beet pulp shreds and Harbro Buchan Bull to increase protein levels. Ad lib silage and twice daily feeding of the home mix see the stores put on over a 1kg per day each during the finishing

period. At turnout, 53 stayed inside as they were approaching 400kg carcass weight and target specification. The remaining 180 were turned out to grass in April and will be regularly assessed for condition with those nearing finishing coming back into the shed for the final few weeks. Customer Focus Willie is one of only two Scottish producers serving on Sainsbury’s Beef Supplier Steering Committee. The group, which consists of 16 ABP beef suppliers from across the UK is part of a move to break down barriers in the supply chain and to communicate some of the issues facing the industry. Having taken part in regular discussions at ABP Ellesmere. “Serving on the committee gives me an opportunity to participate in dialogue with representatives from Sainsbury’s who make the beef purchasing decisions – they share information on the retail market, and any trends or changes to consumer habits and I can enlighten on such


Willie Barr in partnership with his wife Deirdre and his parents Andrew & Margaret

Farming: Halhill & Melville Home Farm & Newton of Lathrisk Location: Collessie, Cupar, Fife Area:

980 acres owned


233 finishing cattle, mainly Charolais


370 Mule x Texel ewes 190 Mule ewe hoggs


Winter & Spring Barley Winter Wheat and OSR


family and 2 full time staff

Elevation:100ft-500ft above sea level Rainfall: 30 inches per year

things like the length of the production cycle." Future Successful integration of livestock and arable enterprises is the key driver at Halhill with Willie taking pride and satisfaction in seeing it all – Issue eighty-four

coming together. “Maximising output per acre is only achievable with a holistic approach; the land sown down to grass for 3 years benefits provide a break from the arable rotation and this boosts fertility levels. Likewise the livestock turn 3500 bales of straw into valuable

dung, which is optimising winter wheat yields. It’s a passion which he hopes can be handed down to the next generation, John (3) and Liam (15mths), are already tractor mad and this focus on family alongside concentration on the customer looks set to shape the future.

by Fiona Turnbull & photos by Rebecca Lee




Feed to Fatten im Lindsay of Blackburn Farm, Chirnside in Berwickshire farms 650 acres, made up of 350 acres arable, 56 acres woodland and 244 acres of grass. He runs a flock of 300 ewes and finishes between 150 – 200 beef cattle a year. Currently there are around 85 out at grass for the summer, they will be brought in once the weather turns and will then start to be finished. Jim has been using Davidsons Intensive Beef Nut XP NGM since September 2010, and has been having great success with this product. “Intensive Beef Nut is a high energy 14% protein feed, proving very popular where farms have large numbers of cattle being intensively fed. With high-energy starch and sugar levels this ration guarantees the best live weight gains,” shared Tommy Davidson of Davidsons of Shotts. “Jim confirmed that he is now finishing cattle about 4 – 6 weeks quicker with some of the bigger Charolais crosses going at 13 months, this is saving not just feeding, but also straw bedding, which comes from the



arable side of the business. “He has often said, “to bed the cattle on straw bought in from outside the farm would cost a fortune.” Jim will be starting to buy cattle from the auction markets in the back end, trying if possible to get a good mix of Charolais cross and Simmental cross as they do tend to finish well and get a good fat to frame ratio and grade well at slaughter. He will be sticking to his feeding regieme as the 14% protein feed is GM free, which enables access to the and Scotbeef schemes. The blend also includes Yea-Sacc TS, which is the most proven live yeast on the market. It uses up oxygen in the rumen, stimulating bacteria therefore feed efficiency is increased by 8% and growth rates by 10%. It also contains Megalac rumen protected fat to provide extra energy to maximise performance. Jim is delighted to be working with Davidsons Animal Feeds as he gets an all round quality package from the delivery, feed and his rep Matt Packham. – Issue eighty-four

Tesco Steak Competition by Eddie Gillanders small scale farmer from Inverness beat off the cream of Scottish beef producers to win the McIntosh Donald/Tesco Best Scotch Steak competition at the Royal Highland Show. Gary Cameron, Allanglach, North Kessock, was presented with the McIntosh Donald Rosebowl and a cheque for £1000 by Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, who urged beef producers to reverse the downward trend in Scotland’s national beef suckler herd. “The steak competition exemplifies the quality of beef we produce in Scotland and we need to produce more to meet a growing demand both at home and abroad,” said Mr Lochhead. “Scottish food exports have increased by 62% over the past four years and every country I visit in Europe recognises Scotch beef as a top quality product. “The market is growing, despite the financial difficulties many of these countries are experiencing and we need to step up production to supply these new markets.” Mr Lochhead said the importance of the beef industry to Scotland’s economy should never be under-estimated. In addition to meeting consumer demand for beef, the spin-off in terms of jobs in the haulage, auction and animal feed sectors meant the industry was a major employer. He added he would do his best to secure the best possible deal for beef producers in forthcoming negotiations on reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy. Mr Cameron carried off the top award with a steak from a 22 month old Simmental cross steer which weighed 337.2kg deadweight and graded –U4L. The steak came from one of 12 sirloins selected from 110 at the preliminary judging at McIntosh Donald’s Portlethen meat plant last month. The 12 steaks were prepared by McIntosh Donald butcher, Alex Gordon, and grilled to perfection on the Tesco stand by Tesco home economics adviser, Donna Knight. The final selection on eating quality was made by an expert judging panel chaired by Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland. Mr Cameron said this was only the second year he had entered the competition and provided a perfect ending to a memorable week for the family. “My first grandson was born on Sunday which takes us into the seventh generation of the family at Allanglack,” said a delighted Mr Cameron who runs his 200 acre farm and agricultural contracting business with his wife, Rose, and sons, Andrew and Richard. The farm grows malting barley for the Tore Grain Group and finishes only 60 beef cattle a year, all of which are sold to the Portlethen plant.


“The steer, which produced the winning steak was purchased at Caithness Livestock Centre as a yearling and finished on silage, home-grown barley and a protein concentrate,” said Mr Cameron. “We are a very small producer so we are delighted to have won.” Runner-up was a Charolais cross from brothers, Eric and Iain Learmonth, Greens of Savoch, Auchnagatt, with third place going to another Charolais cross from Sandy and Graham Brown, Reidhall, Edzell. A former winner of the competition, Andy Robertson, Titaboutie, Tarland, took fourth place with a Limousin cross.

Asda Steak Competition elebrity chef Ansley Harricot entertained the crowd as chefs cooked the twelve qualified steaks to perfection. With three judges picked from the audience, representing a cross-section of the population, Ansley and Asda’s meat buyer doing the taste test the results were as follows: 1st J & N Weir, Lacesston Farm, Gateside, Cupar, Fife with a Charolais X heifer 317 kgs 2nd A & J Dunlop, Mains of Glasswell, Kirriemuir, Angus with a Limousin X heifer 320 kgs 3rd= Robert D Newlands, Cluny Farm, Forres, Morayshire with a Limousin X young bull 377 kgs 3rd= G K Robertson, Heatherstacks Farm, Forfar, Angus with a Charolais X steer 350 kgs

C – Issue eighty-four




Finishing Native Breeds

by Rhidian Jones t is widely accepted that native breeds of cattle a such as Hereford, Galloway and Beef Shorthorn are more suitable for semi intensive (18-24 months) or extensive (>24 months) finishing systems than continental cattle. There are a number of reasons for this which are outlined below. In addition to the animal factors the quality of grassland/forage management is also crucial for profitability.

SAC Sheep and Beef Specialist the cheapest feed so exploiting this in the spring will save money. Simply checking cattle regularly for level of finish through the grazing season may identify some cattle that can be sold fat. As well as optimising the profitability on these cattle you are also releasing grassland for the remaining stock to utilise.

Native breeds of cattle are earlier maturing so will lay down fat at an earlier age. Hence they are more suitable for grass and forage based systems than continental cattle. Similarly, heifers are earlier maturing than bulls with bullocks in between. Native breeds will grow slower and will fatten at lighter weights but over a longer finishing period will still achieve acceptable carcass weights of 270-330kg. An animal born earlier in the spring – say February compared to May – will also be easier to finish at grass the following year as they will be more mature and at an age when fat deposition is more natural. However

this needs to be weighed up with the economics and practicalities of calving at different times. Autumn/winter born cattle should be easier to finish at grass at 20-22 months of age. Bulls will have fat depth EBVs. A higher positive fat depth EBV means the progeny will be easier to fatten than those with lower or negative fat depth EBV. Therefore bull selection is of vital importance if grass finishing is the aim, even with native breeds although not so critical for heifers. As with any finishing system the animal should be sold when they reach an acceptable fat class. Laying on more fat is more expensive due to the reduced efficiency of fat growth compared to lean meat and the higher maintenance requirements of big animals. Compensatory growth can be exploited by restricting concentrate feed in the latter half of winter so the rumen becomes acclimatised to an all forage diet pre turnout. In addition the animal will be leaner at turnout so weight gain will consist of a higher proportion of lean to fat. Compensatory growth is a physiological reaction to a period of unrestricted high quality feed after a store period. Economically grass is

Grassland management must be excellent if cattle are to be finished at grass. A rotational grazing system will ensure that grass quality remains high for more of the season so helping to achieve high liveweight gains. A leader- follower system may be difficult to implement in practice but will ensure that the “leader” group always has the best grass available in higher quantity so ensuring high Dry Matter Intakes (DMI) while the “followers” tidy up the pasture to ensure an even, high quality regrowth. Attention to seed mixtures can also increase the digestibility (and energy) of the diet. Every 1 point drop in “D” value will result in 40g/day reduced liveweight gain. Ryegrass and clover have higher D value than weed grasses and there are also varietal

differences to consider. Grazing at the correct sward height (6-10 cm) will also ensure the grass is more digestible. Supplementing grass with cereals (i.e. a high energy/low protein concentrate) will incur extra costs. However it will increase the starch level in the diet – to make fat deposition easier and also help to utilise excess protein in the grass – to improve liveweight gain and reduce wasted energy. Feeding some cereals in the last 2 months of the season may allow more cattle to be sold finished before the need for re-housing, which will result in a growth check and higher costs. Many finishers of native breeds will feed the cattle at grass in late season to allow them to finish before they will need to be housed again. Good quality whole crop silage or cereals is generally all that will be required. When finishing native breeds of cattle indoors then high quality silage and simple supplementation with cereals or by products is often all that is required. Investing in expensive TMR equipment can only be justified with large cattle numbers.

cottish livestock farmers seeking to boost enterprise profitability should firstly review their forage production as new varieties and alternative crops offer significant untapped potential for improvement on many farms. So said Iain Eadie of British Seed Houses at a recent farm open day near Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire, listing ever-improving yield and quality of modern ryegrass varieties, drought-tolerant crop options, extended grazing and out-wintering as areas worthy of attention. “Regular reseeding or sward renewal is the first step, as the older the ley the greater the proportion of unproductive weed species,” he said.

“When selecting grass varieties, always insist on the best available on the independent Recommended Lists, because there is significant variation in yield and quality even amongst those listed. New varieties come onto the list every year, with the British bred Aber High Sugar Grasses, for example, showing continued improvements not only in dry matter yield but also in terms of quality criteria such as D-value and ME yield and also persistency. “Newer varieties may also offer the advantage of greater production in the early spring or autumn, offering the potential for earlier turnout or productive grazing later into the year.” Beyond conventional grass and

clover leys, Mr Eadie also covered the opportunities for increased production now possible by using a range of alternative forage crops. “Livestock farmers in drought affected areas could consider including perennial chicory in their swards or grow newer varieties of lucerne as stand-alone silage crops,” he added. “Puna II perennial chicory grows with a deep tap root and is proven to offer a good degree of drought tolerance in UK conditions, whereas modern varieties of lucerne such as Timbale have the necessary winter hardiness to be grown in the UK successfully. “Modern varieties of hybrid brassica also offer livestock farmers options to

improve their forage production, either grown as catch crops to bridge summer grazing gaps or as the basis of out-wintering systems. “Every farm situation is different, but there are now all kinds of options to help increase production per hectare and reduce reliance on expensive bought in feeds.” Iain Eadie was speaking at Redhouse of Barra, Old Meldrum, courtesy of host farmer David Stephen, as part of a series of on-farm seminars organised by Focus Genetics to present the very latest thinking in beef and sheep breeding and feeding. Focus Genetics were responsible for introducing the Highlander and Primera sheep breeds into the UK.


Cattle issues



Grassland management issues – Issue eighty-four

Beefing Up The potential of native breeds was well presented by a beef cattle enterprise in north Perthshire during a recent visit to by the Moray and Nairn Monitor Farm community group. he group, including monitor farmer Robbie Newlands, traveled to Incheoch Farms in Glen Isla to visit the McGowan family, who run a 1,200 acre (485 ha) mainly LFA, upland livestock and cropping unit, ranging from 400 to 750 feet above sea level. Robbie Newlands his wife Kirsty and his father (of the same name) run Cluny Farm near Forres in Morayshire, which is a 1060 acre mixed unit and one of the Scottish Monitor Farms. The Newlands’ beef enterprise is based on an out-wintered, 170 cow, spring calving suckler herd of British Blue x Holsteins, purchased as bulling heifers. Charolais bulls are the service sires, apart from over heifers. All progeny are intensively finished with bull calves kept entire and finished at approximately 14 months, yielding carcasses around 400 kgs dwt. The McGowan family – Finlay, Judy, along with daughter Clare, son Neil and his wife Debbie – run a total of 220 home-bred cows, 60 of which are pedigree Simmental, plus a small pedigree Aberdeen-Angus herd. The rest, almost all pedigree Luings, are run commercially and it was this native, spring calving herd that was the focus of the visit. Half of the Luing herd is pure, with the remainder crossed with Simmental bulls to produce Sim-Luings. Both McGowan generations have worked on extensive, overseas cattle

T – Issue eighty-four

enterprises where female breeding selection is based on natural high fertility, ease of management (particularly at calving), the annual rearing of a quality calf along with the ability to thrive and produce on a low-cost forage diet. This Australasian and American cattle breeding philosophy has been imported by the McGowans into their Perthshire enterprise. Their Luing heifers are bulled by an Aberdeen Angus to calve at 27 months old, having achieved their target bulling weight of 440 kgs – 65% of the herd’s average mature cow weight of 675 kgs. “We like to treat our heifers so they feel as if they’re on holiday,” Neil McGowan told the group. “That way we hope they feel good enough to repay us when we turn the bull in. And it seems they’ve got the message – we run the bull with the heifers for just nine weeks and for the last three years they’ve all PD’d in calf.” The heifers are scheduled to start calving six weeks after the main herd starts in early March. “We then bull them to bring them into the main herd in subsequent years,” explained Neil. “They’re currently making, on average, 18 days progress each year.” This year, 86% of the McGowan’s Luing herd calved within the first nine weeks. Unlike some other breeds, which rely on the consultation of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), to indicate

the breeding potential of pedigree stock, the Luing Cattle Society uses Cow Classification – the recording and scoring of what they regard as the important commercial productive and functional traits, in the breeding females. Included in this assessment are – age of first calving, calving interval, feet, locomotion, udder, teats and temperament. Bull calves from only their very best scored cows are kept entire, for either their own use or for sale if up to scratch. The large majority of the pure Luing males are castrated. “The Luing breed was developed on the Isle of Luing by the Cadzows, to produce ‘a useful commercial steer from poorer ground,’ for finishing on their farms in the East,” he said. “But it seems that this was forgotten in the years of cheap grain, which encouraged store buyers towards continental-type cattle. Native-bred steer calves became pretty hard to sell and my father always had a notion that we were giving away a lot of potential in our pure Luing steers.” In 2007, the McGowans decided that instead of “giving away” their pure Luing steers in the store ring, they would finish them and sell them deadweight to McIntosh Donald at Portlethen. The 2006-born steers were finished in their second summer on clover-rich grazing supplemented by 1kg/head/day of barley with minerals.

In 2008 the McGowans hosted a Luing Open Day, where the then McIntosh Donald Procurement Manager revealed the average performance of their pure Luing steers, compared to the average of the 40,000 other, mainly Continental cross steers, slaughtered at the plant in 2007. Neil shared McIntosh Donald figures comparing the average performance of the Incheoch pure Luing steers with the average of the 40,000 other, mainly continental cross steers, slaughtered at the plant that year. The Luings had gained 1kg per day against the other 40,000’s average gain of 0.8 kg per day. The Luings had grossed £793 per head against £803 but had finished 151 days quicker at 590 days against 741 days. “That made us realise that our store steer buyers had been getting a real bargain!” remarked Neil. Since then some major retailers have started paying significant premiums for native-bred beef cattle. This has helped boost prices for farmers / crofters who are unable to take their own cattle through to finishing and have to sell them as stores. The next Moray and Nairn Monitor Farm meeting will be an open evening on 18th July 2012. For further information on monitor farms and detailed reports of meetings visit




he Milking Equipment Association (MEA) is raising the agenda of best practice in milking equipment servicing and installation at this year’s Livestock 2012 (4-5 September 2012, NEC). Roger Lane-Nott, Director General and CEO of the MEA will be leading an informative seminar on each morning of the two-day event to address the importance of expert installation and servicing of milking equipment. As part of the seminar he will be highlighting the new, national qualification, which will become a nationwide means of benchmarking, monitoring and assessing the competence of milking technicians – the MEA Technician Accreditation Scheme – known as LTAMEA. “As milking equipment becomes more complex and sophisticated it is vital that the person working on the equipment is fully competent to do so – not only to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity but also to protect animal health and prevent disease,” explained Roger Lane-Nott. “Previously there has been no national qualification or standard that dairy farmers could effectively judge the competence of their technicians. Now we are asking dairy farmers to request only LTAMEA Accredited Technicians for installation or servicing, safe in the knowledge that they will be getting the most qualified and experienced person for the job.” The new accreditation scheme, developed by the Milking Equipment Association in conjunction with Reaseheath College and administered by IAgrE, creates a competence standard, which Assured Farm Standard (AFS) can now implement, filling the current need for competency requirement and an audit trail. It will also be key in encouraging qualified technicians to remain in the industry and help recruit talented young people, by providing a clear and defined, long-term career path. The scheme has the backing of all the major milking equipment manufacturers and will see the first qualified technician graduate in Autumn 2012.



Dairy Hygiene from De Laval Why clean your milking machine? Cleaning is the removal of milk deposits from all the milk contact points in a milking plant. If this process does not occur, the milk quality will deteriorate and cause a negative effect on all subsequent milk passing through the milking system. To ensure top quality milk this must be avoided. The purpose of cleaning the milking equipment is to achieve microbial control. Cleaning includes both the removal of any unwanted material left after milking and the killing of microorganisms, usually called disinfection. Cleaning should always be performed as soon as possible after each milking.

When is the milking plant clean? There are three definitions of cleaning; the first is Clean, which means the equipment is free from visible impurities; the second is Microbiologically clean, which refers to equipment that harbours so few micro – organisms that the possible contamination of milk is of no practical importance to the quality of the milk; the last is Chemically clean, which means equipment contains so little foreign matter that chemical contamination of the milk is below the relevant standard.

What factors are involved in cleaning? Cleaning is the process that removes soil from the equipment to be cleaned. In order to make this process as efficient as possible, four important factors are combined. They are firstly mechanical force. This force is usually exerted by circulating water in the plant and pulsating it to give a scrubbing action especially on the top of the large milk lines. Cleaning agents are next, which can be divided into detergents and disinfectants. Often, however, the cleaning agents consist of both. Detergents assist in removing the soil by helping to loosen it and hold it in

suspension so that it can be removed during rinsing. Disinfectants kill the microorganisms. And lastly heat; the water temperature is an essential part of the cleaning process. It is of utmost importance that the water temperature is maintained above the recommended level during the circulation phase. It is easy to check the water temperature with a common thermometer. Choosing the right cleaning agent for your milking plant is a matter of balance – too strong and it will damage the equipment and rubber parts – too weak and the bacteria count will seriously damage your milk payments, both extremes will adversely affect your profit margins. – Issue eighty-four

Where can I get advice? It is well worth taking advice from the manufacturer of the milking equipment. The manufacturer will have spent much time on research and development in both the way the machine operates and the best way to clean it. There is not much point in building something that can’t be cleaned! Most manufacturers have trained staff to investigate cleaning problems and are more than happy to help. If you would like more information contact: Lisa Harris at DeLaval Ltd on 02920775800 or visit



Homeopathy Hike

The EU is spending 2 million Euros researching how homeopathy can be used to treat farm animals and reduce the use of antibiotics and other drugs. n the Millenium year, while writing for the New Zealand Farmer Magazine, I attended the New Zealand Dairy Conference in Invercargill. For me one speaker really stood out – Tineke Verkade – whose specialised subject was Homeopathic Remedies for Dairy Cows. There was a mixed reaction from the audience, but twelve years on she has won them round and now has 3000 + dairy farmers on her database. I haven’t come across many farmers in this country who practice homeopathy, so was interested to be invited to the Scottish Parliament during lambing time this year, to a Homeopathic presentation. Veterinary Surgeons Geoff Johnson MA MRCVS RSHom PCH


VetMFHom and Nick Thompson BSc(Hons)Path Sci BVM&S MRCVS VetMFHom explained how they've successfully integrated homeopathy into veterinary practice and the growing evidence base for using homeopathy. The EU is spending 2 million Euros researching how homeopathy can be used to treat farm animals and reduce the use of antibiotics and other drugs. The Veterinary speakers of the evening felt that Scotland should grab this opportunity with both hands. More and more farmers across the world are discovering how homeopathy provides cost-effective health benefits for their herds. There is a growing evidence-base supporting homeopathy as an effective medical therapy for humans

Around 70% of antibiotics manufactured are used for farm animals Can homoeopathy help farmers improve animal health? Farmers who have taken the HAWL course say – yes. Studies in Norway say – yes. HAWL’s message is very clear, if you want to use homoeopathy you need to know what you are doing. Our course teaches farmers the responsible and effective use and makes the learning fun.


and animals. Chris Lees, who runs courses – Homeopath at Welly Level – reckons that, “While lab research is perhaps appropriate for a company needing to prove efficacy in order to license a product and thus achieve commercial advantage, for the farmer and consumer public money (EU finding) might better be put into helping the farmer understand the system, how best to use the remedies and how to make his or her own informed decisions. Offering such support would probably do far more to achieve sustainable systems and avoid contaminations and resistances than exploring potentised substances as a commercial product. Antibiotic use in the Dutch agriculture sector has declined sharply in recent years, exceeding the

objectives set by the government. Sales have shown a drop of 32% from 2009 to 2011. The total sales of antibiotics in the Netherlands dropped nearly 32%, from 495 tonnes to 338 tonnes during the period 2009-2011, according to new data relating to the veterinary use of antibiotics published by LEI Wageningen UR. This far exceeds the policy objective for 2011 set by the Dutch government, which was set at a 20% reduction in antibiotic use compared with 2009. Im not sure how much of this reduction has been due to the use of homeopathic remedies, but I certainly think that Scottish Farmers should be weighing up their options and looking into cost cutting alternative remedies.

Chris Lees Church Cottage Alderton, Wiltshire SN14 6NL Tel. 01666 841213 – Issue eighty-four

Ag on the Up!

Milking It! obert Wiseman Dairies has given its dairy farmer suppliers a month’s notice of a 1.7 pence per litre (ppl) reduction in the farm-gate milk price, to take effect from August 1, 2012. The decision follows a collapse in the value of the cream in each litre of farm-gate milk over the last 12 months. From its peak, the commodity fell in value by the milk price equivalent of more than 5ppl. (source DairyCo Datum) Wiseman had hoped that the need for further adjustment to its milk price following a 2ppl reduction which took effect in June could be negated by a sustained and significant rally of commodity market values. But whilst markets have improved from the lows of recent weeks, they remain at levels not seen since early 2010, when the average DEFRA milk price in the UK was 24.19ppl. Wiseman’s standard litre price from August will be 24.73ppl. Pete Nicholson, Milk Procurement


new FAO-led partnership is looking to improve how the environmental impacts of the livestock industry are measured and assessed, a necessary first step in improving the sustainability of this important food production sector. Livestock-raising and the consumption of animal products make a crucial contribution to the economic and nutritional well-being of millions of people around the world – particularly in developing countries. Yet, as the global consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs continues to rise, increasing attention is being paid to the livestock sector's environmental performance – such as the efficiency with which it uses scarce natural resources, its impact on water resources and how it contributes to climate change. At the recent Rio+20 sustainable development conference, governments agreed on the necessity of making agricultural production more sustainable and stressed in particular the need to shift to more sustainable livestock production systems. Currently, many different methods are being used to measure and assess the environmental impacts of animal raising, making it difficult to compare results and set priorities for the continuous improvement of environmental performance along supply chains. "We must establish a shared understanding of how to assess the environmental performance of the livestock sector," said Pierre Gerber, a Senior FAO livestock policy officer. "The goal is to improve that performance, and create more sustainable forms of production that will continue to provide food and income. To do that, we need reliable quantitative information on key environmental parameters along livestock supply chains, as an evidence base from which to drive improvements." Collaborative effort FAO and governmental, private sector and nongovernmental partners will work together on a number of fronts to strengthen the science of environmental benchmarking of livestock supply chains. Activities planned for the initial three-year phase of the project include:

A – Issue eighty-four

• Establishing science-based methods and guidelines on how to quantify livestock's carbon footprint, covering various types of livestock operations and rearing systems; •Creating a database of greenhouse gas emission factors generated for the production of different kinds of animal feed – feed production and use offer significant opportunities for reducing livestock emissions. • Developing a methodology for measuring other important environmental pressures, such as water consumption and nutrient losses. • Initiating a communications campaign to promote use of the partnership's methodologies and findings. Among the founding members of the partnership are: the governments of France, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand, The European Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC), the European Vegetable Oil and Proteinmeal Industry (FEDIOL), the International Dairy Federation, (IDF) the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), the International Egg Commission (IEC) the International Poultry Council (IPC), the International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). That core membership is expected to expand over the coming months. The partnership Secretariat is based at FAO. The imperative of sustainability FAO estimates that demand for livestock products will continue to intensify over the decades to come. Meat consumption is projected to rise nearly 73 percent by 2050; dairy consumption will grow 58 percent over current levels. "This continued growth in demand will be occurring within the context of increasing competition for finite and sometimes dwindling natural resources, additional challenges posed by climate change, and the imperative of making food production much more sustainable," said Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO's Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch. "We need to safeguard this important food sector, and improving the efficiency of its use of natural resources and bettering its performance in terms of sustainability is key."

Director at Robert Wiseman Dairies said: “We know that this news will come as a major disappointment to Wiseman Milk Group members. “We have done everything we can to minimise the reduction in our farm gate milk price but we must now reflect the substantially lower returns from the markets which we serve.” Roddy Catto, Acting Chairman of the Wiseman Milk Partnership said: "Many WMG members are still coming to terms with the 2ppl cut in June and to be faced with a further 1.7ppl cut will be devastating. The Wiseman Partnership Board put forward a very strong and justifiable case to keep the milk price as is. We have been unable to change the company position and as such we certainly do not give this move our approval. We will however continue to work with the Company to build a recovery back to milk prices that reflects a more sustainable position for our members at the earliest opportunity.”

Road to the Isles proposed path running from Tyndrum to Oban has the potential to attract 32,000 visitors per annum and bring £1m a year in to the local economy, according to a report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Running through impressive mountain scenery, woodlands and alongside lochs before reaching the coast, the route would pass through the villages of Dalmally, Lochawe, Taynuilt and Connel. Covering approximately 45 miles, it would link the West Highland Way to the Oban to Fort William cycle route. In the future it could be extended to Mull and Iona. The route would appeal to both local people, for dog walking and recreational activities and visitors, for either shorter trips or the challenge of going the whole distance. Of the 32,000 potential visitors, analysis suggests that 26,000 (81%) would be day visitors, 6000 (19%) would stay overnight and 3000 (9%) would undertake the whole route. According to the report, the strengths of the route include the scenery and landscape, local tourist attractions, the wide range of facilities in each village and good transport links, allowing easy access to the path at various points along the way. However the branding and market positioning are seen as crucial to its success. To be recognised as a key national route, it would have to be extended in the future, possibly to Mull and Iona, and given an appropriate name, such as ‘The Way to the Isles’.


Development opportunities along the route are also highlighted in the report. There is potential for existing businesses to adapt or expand what they offer in terms of shopping, food , accommodation, and drink and there may be opportunities for farmers and land managers to provide food, accommodation and produce; offer volunteering opportunities and carry out minor maintenance on the route. Circular paths and links to the main villages and local visitor attractions are important to encourage people to use the path and spend money locally. The study was funded by SNH, in response to interest from the local community. Stephen Austin, SNH operations officer based in Oban said: “The great thing about this proposal is that it has come from the local community. We’re very keen to see the development of more trails across the country to help people get out and enjoy the outdoors and also help generate income to underpin the rural economy. However this proposal is still at a very early stage. A route has yet to be identified and this will only be done with the agreement and support of farmers and landowners, but this report helps highlight the potential benefits of the path, as well as the need to get the promotion and marketing right. “We’re setting up a steering group to take the project forward. We hope those living and working in the area will be interested in taking part, particularly from farmers and land managers, who have a vital role to play in its development.”




Integrated Measurement of Eating Quality Technology pioneering research project to determine the eating quality of meat is moving closer to commercial reality with the successful testing of a robot at a Scottish meat processing premises. Quality Meat Scotland and the Scottish Government are co–funding the ground-breaking £1 million Integrated Measurement of Eating Quality (IMEQ) project, which is being delivered by a consortium of partners, led by SAC. The three-year project, due for completion in spring 2013, is using cutting edge automated technology to determine carcass pH and temperature using surface-based ultrasound probes located at different positions on the carcass. The technology also uses automatic means of measuring meat colour, carcase fat and eating and nutritional qualities. These measures are being integrated with a video image analysis (VIA) system, resulting in a new process for use on the line in abattoirs. In the future, this could lead to the development of a system which is faster, less labour-intensive, less expensive and delivers new information. The initial focus of the project is on beef, with the aim to extend the technology to lamb and pork at a later date. Central to the research is the use of robotic technology similar to that utilised by the high precision motor industry. A robotic manipulator, with special


end-of-arm tools, is being used to provide automated measurements at line speed at the meat plant. The camera scans the carcass allowing the robot to place the pH/temperature probe into the target muscle in the half-carcass on-line. A number of pH/temperature electrodes have been evaluated and a suitable, robust probe has been selected for the end of arm tool on the robot. This has been combined with an ultrasound probe which allows automatic, rapid measurement of subcutaneous fat. Meat eating quality is being assessed through the use of novel imaging technologies which use spectroscopic methods to determine the texture and composition of the meat. Already the technology is showing that it may be possible to select out the tough meat. Success in the IMEQ project could offer a range of benefits to the entire red meat industry. In particular, the ability to offer consumers a consistently high quality product is of major importance since current approaches based on standard protocols and ageing times cannot remove variability. The entire red meat chain is on course to benefit from this ground-breaking project. The red meat industry could benefit by up to £5 million a year, based on current prices and throughput levels, as a result of added revenue and

efficiency gains generated by the future commercialisation of this type of automated approach. Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is renowned as a land of food and drink thanks, largely, to our fine natural ingredients, including quality meat that graces dinner tables across the world. “It’s great news, therefore, that our investment in securing a viable future for the beef sector in Scotland is being rewarded. The IMEQ system will help to give the consumer confidence that the meat they purchase will meet their expectations on both quality and taste – a winning combination.” Professor Charlotte Maltin, Science and Innovation Manager with QMS, said: “The ability of the

Bringing Home the Bacon Scottish Pig Academy to encourage stockmanship training in the Scottish pig industry was officially launched at the Royal Highland Show. The initial intake of 10 Scottish Pig Academy trainees is currently being

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recruited with training due to start in August. The Academy has been developed by Barony College with input from QMS, VION and SAC. Funding for the course development has been provided by ASDA, QMS, the European Union and Skills Development Scotland. “The objective of the Scottish Pig Academy is to implement a recognised vocational training programme

robotic manipulator to work effectively at line speed is crucial to the success of this project and we are delighted this is proving possible in a practical working environment”. Dave Ross, Senior Research Engineer, Sustainable Livestock Systems Group, SAC said: “A priority since moving the robot onto the processing line has been looking closely at the technical robustness and intelligent autonomy of the system. “The automation system and sensors are now being used successfully in a real-time environment to assess the overall performance of the system in measuring meat and carcass quality related parameters. The project is moving into a validation trial phase through the rest of 2012 and early 2013.

for basic and advanced pig stockmanship in Scotland. Crucially the programme can be delivered locally and at low cost to farmers,” said Uel Morton. There are currently around 500 people employed on Scottish pig farms and the aim is for the new Academy to train farm staff to develop the technical knowledge and skills required to maximise productivity and efficiency. Among the areas covered by the course are performance, health, machinery use and maintenance along with personal performance. Training will be delivered online, making it easy to access from any location and to work in a flexible way to fit round work schedules. A network of experienced mentors will provide support to individual learners working through the modules. Amongst the first tranche of apprentices to sign up are Bruce Arnott and Craig Mackie. Bruce is employed by Strathmore Farming Company, which runs a 620 sow outdoor unit in Angus over seven sites and Craig is employed by J Forbes & Partners at Slains Park, a 2000 sow outdoor unit near Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. Dr Chris Brown, Asda’s Head of Ethical and Sustainable Sourcing, said: “We’ve been working hard to support the Scottish pig industry over the past few years and this initiative is another great example of collaboration in the supply chain. As part of Asda’s commitment to Scottish farming we’re delighted to support a project that will have real practical benefits for the pig industry in Scotland in developing skills and talent for the future.” – Issue eighty-four



Westfield Monitor Farm – Succession Planning

he need for early communication and the preparation of a clearly set-out succession plan was highlighted at the latest meeting, held as part of the monitor farm programme at Westfield Farm, near Thurso in Caithness. Guest speaker, well-known agricultural consultant Peter Cook said the issue is a long-time bugbear in the industry. “Farmers continue to score badly in thinking ahead to the time when they have to hand over the running of their family holding,” he said. “Failure to properly plan for the day they take a back seat or bow out entirely from the enterprise, too often triggers acrimony and feelings of resentment.” Part of the problem is an understandable reluctance on the part of farmers in the prime of life to project forward to their retirement. Peter Cook commented: “You think it’s not going to happen or it’s too long away to bother about and


you keep putting off having the conversation. “It’s a difficult thing to deal with and often very emotional.” But Mr Cook said doing nothing often leads to an almighty mess, with family members bickering and nobody satisfied with the outcome. He said: “I’ve been involved in the aftermaths of quite a few farm successions where there have been bust-ups.” To avoid this, he recommends the farmer sits down with his or her family, years before the handover and thrashes out just what should happen. Said Mr Cook: “The most difficult bit is to decide what you and your family want; and that’s the scary part of the process. “You then have to work on the nitty gritty of how you can achieve this, while being aware of things like what the tax implications are.” He said it is also vital that whoever is chosen as the successor should have the necessary skills to run the business. “This is too often overlooked,” he

said. “The person who is to take over has to be capable as otherwise the farm business is going to go down the pan.” Mr Cook said that in many ways the simplest solution is available when none of the family is interested in taking on the farm. That would invariably result in liquidating the assets and sharing out the proceeds amongst the beneficiaries. It gets complicated when a son is primed to take over the farm but, say, two other members of the family want no involvement. If it is, for instance, a 200 acre holding worth £1 million, which produces an income for one person, giving three equal shares by selling off some of the livestock or a house, could well make the farm business unviable. Mr Cook said: “This is the big problem when you set the sheer capital value of a farm against its ability to generate income. “In allocating shares, to ensure the viability of the business the shares can be fair but they are not going to be equitable.”

Announcing very late on, that the farm is to be passed on to the eldest son – a traditional practice – will, he said, invariably cause jealousy and grievance. He said: “You have to have the discussion very early on and set out a plan as expectations are everything. “If, as a young person you realise your future is not on the farm, that’s fine. “If, on the other hand, you have an expectation you’re going to be there and suddenly you find out there’s nothing there for you; that creates bitterness. “Tackling the subject at an early stage and thrashing out a sensible outcome for everyone is crucial and is undoubtedly going to avoid a lot of grief.” Mr Cook recommends writing down a succession plan, possibly after consulting with an accountant and or a solicitor to ensure it is watertight. The talk was the highlight of the latest group meeting, held as part of the monitor farm project, which is sponsored by Quality Meat Scotland.

Importance of Listening to Feedback he recent Moray and Nairn Monitor Farm meeting was a two day event, which gave the community group the opportunity to view finished beef bulls live one day and on the hook the next. Cluny Farm, near Forres in Morayshire, is farmed by Robbie Newlands and wife Kirsty along with his father, Robbie. The Newlands’ 170 plus suckler cow herd is mainly British Blue cross Holstein. All bull calves are kept entire and other than heifer’s calves, all progeny are Charolais-sired. Spring-born, the bull calves are housed in straw yards at weaning, with the first “draw” taken the following May. They are sold on a deadweight basis to ABP at Perth. Beef from beef-bred suckler bulls can be labelled ‘Scotch’ providing the animal is under 16 months old and where customer specification allows. On the first of the two day “meeting”, ABP buyer Brian Webster, along with Robbie Newlands, selected

T – Issue eighty-four

10 finished bulls – eight Charolais sired and two Limousin-sired. Two days later, the Newlands, along with members of the Monitor Farm community group, travelled to Perth to view the carcases and hear a beef market update from ABP Perth General Manager, Frank Ross, himself a Morayshire farmer’s son. The ten Newlands bulls ranged in age from 13.1 months to 14.7 months. Half of them graded U for conformation, with the other half R. All but one graded either 3 or 4L for fat classification. Net deadweight ranged from 354.7 kgs to 410.2 kgs, averaging 389.8 kgs. “You can learn a lot from seeing your own cattle hanging up,” commented Robbie Newlands. “Initially I was disappointed when after selecting the bulls at home, I looked at one again a few hours later, and really wondered if we should have kept him longer – he looked as if he could have been taken to a bigger weight.”

This particular bull was the youngest in the load and killed out the lightest. He was, however, also the fattest – grading R4H. “Once I had seen the carcase, along with the fat classification it became clear that had we kept this bull longer, he may have converted his feed more into fat than lean meat,” remarked Mr Newlands. “This would have resulted in a cost, instead of an improvement in yield.” The current weekly throughput at ABP Perth is around 1,400 to 1,450 cattle. Echoing many of his meat processor colleagues, Mr Ross aired his concerns regarding the future availability of finished cattle in Scotland. QMS figures show that between December 2000 and December 2011, beef cow numbers in Scotland fell by over 8% to a total of 460,107. On the plus side in terms of cattle numbers, BCMS figures for 2011 reveal that 42,081 dairy bull calves were registered in Scotland, an increase of

over 5,000 compared to 2008. A large percentage of the weekly throughput from ABP Perth goes to supply Asda and Sainsbury’s as Scotch Beef. Makro are also supplied, plus a number of catering and food service companies. Since the beef export market re-opened in May 2006, ABP Perth has redeveloped a range of overseas markets and is currently exporting to eight countries, mainly in Europe. “A rise in value of the fifth quarter over the last year or two, has yielded a much needed benefit,” explained Mr Ross. “The market in Europe continues to be strong for a lot of the fifth quarter products, especially in winter months, but there is now a growing market in the Far East and Africa for certain products. Some of the products we’re now packing to sell, we used to pay to dispose of, so this has obviously helped.” The next Moray and Nairn Monitor Farm meeting will be an Open Evening, on 18th July 2012.




Bracken Blasted at Blackhope programme of aerial spraying has seen 230acres of dense swathes of bracken virtually disappear on a 4000acre hill property on the Moorfoot Hills. Simon Clark of Blackhope, near Heriot, Midlothian, has worked with MFH Helicopters over a six-year period to wipe out the aggressive rhizome. A neighbour had sprayed bracken aerially, using MFH Helicopters with great success, so Simon decided to give it a go. “They had sprayed the boundary between us with such precision – a highly professional job,” enthused Simon, who farms two neighbouring properties on the Rosebury Estate. “ The pilots are all New Zealand farmers from the South Island, who come over on a ‘busman’s holiday,’ with their wives, for the relatively short eight week window, when all the bracken fronds are fully extended.” Initially the pilots flew Robinson 22’s and sprayed by line of sight. They have now up graded to 44’s and sat nav – so is incredibly accurate. Simon and his wife, Susie, enjoy a good social with the team when then are over. “They have interesting stories to tell of shooting wild goats from the air and of recovery of missing in action soldiers from Vietnam. They are very interesting guys.” In 1996, Simon took on a fifteen year limited duration tenancy of the adjoining farm, which the Rosebury Estate previously had in hand. He took on a flock of 621 Blackface ewes, which was instantly reduced to 500, ‘all for the good of the grouse.’



Simon decided to sell the Blackies on Garvald and replace with North Country Cheviots from Lairg, but has since converted back to Blackfaces as he found that if there were any problems at lambing time – it was always with the Cheviots, “and no one wants hassle at lambing time.' The Clarks have been red-taped to the hilt, having both a triple SSSI, covering 1235ha and an SAC (Special Area of Conservation) on the property. The area of Special Scientific Interest is an upland bird assemblage. In 2001 the 1000 strong Blackface Sheep stock on Blackhope went through a 51% reduction. “At the time it tied in with the retirement of our shepherd in 2006 and lamb prices weren’t great then.”

The Clarks were paid £10000 per annum in compensation for reducing their stock, but have since been penalised by £10000 in their LFAS payment. “The Cabinet Secretary is currently looking into our situation and we are awaiting response. ourth generation to farm at Blackhope, Heriot, Simon Clark is certainly not a stereotypical Blackface sheep farmer. He looks more like a European Ski Instructor and pushes his Blackfaces to big weights rather than hitting the supermarket specification! Very much the commercial sheep farmer Simon buys sires for size and conformation. “I tend to breed a lot of my own tups rather than buy in.” He feels that the Blackface


Breeders clique have ruined the breed, by losing size, like others have done with the Aberdeen Angus. “So much money changes hands with these few. There is a lovely old saying – ‘trying to breed a rat out of a mouse’ – there lies the problem!” “They are getting to be like the Bluefaced Leicesters – you should get a shovel as a bit of luck money when you take home a Blackface Tup!” laughed Simon. He feels that there is so much wind farm money out there now; it makes purchasing a tup much harder than previously. “If I only need a couple of tups, it is easy to spend £5000, but as a commercial buyer, who has a budget it does get increasingly harder.” All the lambs from Blackhope are finished on farm, in the shed. A blend from either Davidson’s or Smillie’s is mixed with the Clark secret ingredient. After much coercion, Simon spilt the beans and admitted that whole lupins are his secret weapon. At 33% protein and an ME of 14, mixed with the blend and with plenty roughage on offer, the fattening lambs receive 2lbs/hd in the – Issue eighty-four

morning and hay or straw at night. “I’ve been down the road of the adlib basis and the only winner is the feed merchant.” Simon starts putting the lambs in the shed as late as possible, from October onwards, selling lambs through the market from November to March at United Auctions, Stirling and Swans at St Boswells. He pushes them to 50- 55kgs as he reckons kilos count. “Buyers have orders for all weights. I get less per kilo, but compared to 44kg lambs – kilos pay.”


Simon Clark

Farming: Blackhope & neighbouring Garvald

The hills of Blackhope and Garvald are now free of bracken, but unfortunately Simon Clark can’t completely utilize his extended grazing as both properties are under stocked.

Location: Heriot, Midlothian

A programme of aerial spraying has seen 230acres of dense swathes of bracken virtually disappear on a 4000acre hill property on the Moorfoot Hills.


4000 acres tennanted


Earl of Rosebury


500 + Blackface ewes had sheep reduction feed blend & whole lupins


Simon and a shepherd

27 – Issue eighty-four


versatile vehicle – the Kubota RTV900 Camo is the ideal companion and work horse for any livestock farmer, fencer, gamekeeper or estate manager. Combining an innovative three range Variable Hydrostatic Transmission (VHT) with in-board wet-type disc brakes, the RTV900 offers dynamic braking and automatic power boost when climbing slopes. The hydrostatic transmission takes a bit of getting used to but is ideal in a farm environment, as you can jump out to catch a ewe or such like and the vehicle automatically stops, even on an incline. When fuel prices are at an all time high, the Kubota RTV is a sound investment as it features Kubota's renowned E-TVCS 22HP diesel engine. Meticulously developed, the RTV900's 22 HP, 3-cylinder indirect injected, liquid cooled diesel engine is fuel proficient and minimises emissions for a cleaner drive. With road speeds of 40mph, this RTV is great for farm roads, grass parks and undulating fields. We found it wasn’t so keen on boggy


ground, but like any ATV/ UTV, once you know your vehicles’ limitations, you know your ground and which routes it is capable of going. Several local farmers I have spoken to, who have Kubota RTV’s, love the bench seat and the fact that they can strap their kids in making it a safe way to take children round the farm – a huge bonus for farmers’ wives! They also rated the pulling power (590kgs), with one farmer, towing a trailer or feed snacker round at lambing time, with ease. The Hydraulic bed-tipping system is a great selling point, ideal for fencing, feeding out, dogs, gardening, building jobs,....the list is endless. I initially worried that the dogs would jump off the flatbed but they seem quite happy to stay on, but Nell did prefer the cab, when she got half a chance! After a week with the RTV900 I was sad to see it go. It was handy and great if a certain job required more than one person. Cab comfort and good back support were an added kuxury, Thanks to Lloyds of Dumfries.


Kubota RTV



by Peter Hill • • • •

New five-model X70 Series spans 150hp to 232hp with power boost Higher power and torque outputs for XTX and TTX replacements SCR emissions treatment promises further improved fuel economy Four-post cab gains more headroom and roof window for more light

new five-model range of six-cylinder tractors were unveiled at the Cereals Event and the Royal Highland Show as distributor AgriArgo UK prepares to replace the popular McCormick XTX and TTX machines. The versatile role of the design in providing the power needed to operate silage-making and feeding equipment in the livestock sector and tillage equipment for growing arable crops will also be emphasised by McCormick dealers in Scotland; Fraser C Robb, Drymen near Glasgow; TH Engineering, Banksfoot near Dalswinton, Dumfries; John Drysdale, Kinneswood, Perthshire; Thomas Murray Agricultural Engineers, Dundonald, Ayrshire; Hamilton Tractors, Carnwath, Lanarkshire; Kirktown Machinery, Laurencekirk, Angus; Robert Cook Agricultural Engineers, Girvan, Ayrshire and J T Cormack, John O’Groats. Powered by a ‘leaner and greener’ version of the 6.7-litre McCormick BetaPower engine, the new X70 holds the prospect of lower fuel costs while also promising improved performance and productivity. “The core features that make the current XTX and TTX tractors an increasingly popular choice for farmers and contractors will still be a part of the X70 Series,” emphasises McCormick product specialist Paul Wade. “The XtraSpeed transmission with its eight powershift steps provides a very accessible choice of 32 forward speeds, while the high-output hydraulics system provides a quick



response to pressure and flow demands from all types of equipment.” For the X70 Series, engineering and design work have focused on the engine to deliver more performance while meeting latest emissions rules, and on the cab to provide operators with an even better place to work. The line-up that progressively will replace the XTX and TTX ranges over the coming months comprises five models. Two are equivalent to the large-frame TTX – the X70.70 and the X70.80. With 188hp for draft work and transport duties, and 199hp when driving pto-powered implements, the X70.70 has an 8hp and 19hp advantage over the TTX190, while at the top of the range, the X70.80 lifts performance over the TTX230 with 214hp and up to 232hp. The X70 Series replacements for the smaller and lighter XTX tractors step up even more in the performance stakes with ‘boost power’ increases of up to 20hp over current models for pto and transport work. The X70.40 replacement for the XTX145 puts out 150hp for draft work and up to 175hp with boost activated when hauling a trailer or powering pto-driven equipment. Equivalent figures for the X70.50, which replaces the XTX165, are 165hp and 188hp, while the X70.60 gets an 11% increase in boost output to 203hp, with 175hp on tap for draft work. These performance gains result in part from optimising the engine’s combustion process in a way that also minimises the production of

particulate matter – soot, in other words. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the exhaust gases are neutralised by a catalytic converter and urea solution. Prior to injection at a rate determined by how hard the engine is working, the AdBlue solution is stored in a reservoir built into the tractor’s moulded fuel tank, making it easy to top up when re-filling with diesel. In addition to the new-spec engine, the McCormick X70 Series tractors have some cabin enhancements, including a new roof assembly. With the heater and air conditioning unit now housed to the rear of this panel and controls conveniently mounted on the right-hand rear pillar, the operator enjoys more headroom than before. The re-design also allows a roof window to be installed for the first

time, which lets even more light into a cab that already provides a comfortable working environment. Its four-post construction means there are full-size door windows on both sides of the cab with no obstructions interrupting visibility. Externally, the new X70 Series tractors are distinguished by new graphics on the bonnet and a more distinctive treatment for the integrated front and rear work lamps – they now have smart chrome-effect surrounds to make them stand out from the current style. While production at the ARGO Tractors factory in Fabbrico, Italy progressively switches to the new X70 Series, supplies of current XTX and TTX tractors with non-SCR engines will continue to be available for a few more months to come.

McCormick X70 Series Model

Max Power

Max Boost Power













X70.80 214hp 232hp Transmission: 32x24 or 48x40 with creep; eight powershift steps; electric range shifting and spool valves on E-plus models. Boost power on X70.40 to X70.60 available for transport and pto; on X70.70 and X70.80 for pto-driven implements. – Issue eighty-four

Marshall Moves to McCormick

cCormick tractors are being re-introduced into the Scottish Borders with the appointment of G Marshall (Tractors) Ltd at St Boswells as the sales and service dealer for the region. The agreement to supply the red and silver machines to farmers and contractors follows a thorough assessment of the current McCormick range by customers and key staff at Marshalls, and an evaluation of the back-up resources available from McCormick distributor AgriArgo UK. "We had another couple of offers for a new tractor franchise," says dealer principal George Marshall. "But after speaking to some of AgriArgo's existing dealers and placing test tractors with customers, we decided McCormick offered the best all-round package."

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The dealership based on the Charlesfield Industrial Estate in St Boswells supplied Renault tractors from the mid-1980s and continued its association with the product range until this spring. Now, the business exclusively supplies McCormick. "I'm delighted that George and his professional team agreed to supply and support the McCormick tractor range in the Scottish Borders," says Ray Spinks, AgriArgo general manager. "With a line-up of first-rate livestock tractors and six-cylinder machines capable of matching the performance of anything else in the field, they have every opportunity to make a success of our new relationship." George Marshall set up his own machinery repair and servicing business in the late 1970s having served his time as an engineer at

Kelso Tractors. He moved the business to its current spacious premises in 1995 with the aim to make service and parts back-up his number one priority. "We have a retail display area in front of the counter for things like tools, oil, accessories and the like but the real focus is on parts," says Mr Marshall. "I like to hold a good stock so that customers can get parts when they need them and our service technicians can carry out servicing and repairs without delay." The decision to go with McCormick was influenced to a great extent by the large stock of fast-moving parts held by AgriArgo at its Harworth base near Doncaster. "One of the franchises available to us holds no parts stock in the UK at all, which is no good to me or my customers," Mr Marshall points out. "In contrast, the McCormick products are backed by AgriArgo's stock as well as our own, and if necessary parts can be ordered for next-day delivery from the ARGO Tractors warehouses in France and Italy." Experienced storesman Rob Douglas manages the parts operation at St Boswells and George Marshall wants to recruit an experienced salesman to help introduce the tractors to customers. "To the west of the A68 here at St Boswells it's mainly mixed and livestock farming and to the east predominantly arable cropping, so we're well placed to serve both sectors," he points out. "That's why it was important to have a tractor range

with products suited to both types of farming; we may not be in a position to offer tractors beyond 230hp just yet but all other needs are covered." George Marshall particularly likes the balanced weight distribution of the six-cylinder MTX and new X70 series machines; it should make them sure-footed performers with good manoeuvrability and low compaction, he says. "For the livestock man, the new 92hp to 120hp McCormick X60 is a really excellent tractor comparable to any manufacturer's equivalent model and the four-cylinder MC up to 126hp will suit stock and arable men alike,” he says. “It shares its back-end, load sensing hydraulics and semipower shift transmission with the bigger 117hp to 141hp MTX sixcylinder machines – so it has a good specification in a highly manoeuvrable package. "Then we have the new X70 series up to 230hp, with the latest SCR engine technology for improved fuel economy," says Mr Marshall. "An eight-speed powershift for the 32x24 transmission gives the tractor tremendous control versatility." After-sales manager Alan Blaikie, who oversees the seven service engineers that handle workshop and on-farm repairs, describes the McCormick machines as good, solid tractors that have the features operators need without being overly complex. He believes farmers who have yet to consider a McCormick will soon come to appreciate their appeal.




A powerful force against rural and agricultural crime ergeant New Holland - badge number T6050 – will be reporting for duty at more than twenty agricultural shows around Northern Ireland this summer. The latest recruit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been patrolling the shows to focus attention on their latest campaign to reduce farm theft in the region. The tractor, which is owned by Burkes of Cornascriebe, is on loan until the early autumn – and Burkes has allowed the PSNI to have it liveried exactly like a police car, complete with a police roof bar (with flashing blue lights) on top. The body of the tractor has been foil wrapped in white, then embellished with chequered blue and yellow and the police crest. And it seems Sergeant New Holland has caused quite a stir. Conor Johnston from the PSNI says


the tractor’s been a great attraction: “At the Balmoral show – the largest agricultural show in Northern Ireland – there were queues of people waiting to have a look at the tractor. It really did stir up a lot of interest for our campaign to reduce rural and agricultural crime. We’re really grateful to Burkes of Cornascriebe for lending it to us – and helping us move it from show to show.” The PSNI are very keen to get the important messages of basic crime prevention and personal responsibility across: It’s estimated that agricultural crime accounted for 4% of all crime during 2011 – and according to the NFU Mutual, is costing the agricultural sector nearly £4 million a year, which is why the police are working hard to try and tackle this important issue. New Holland’s Sales Area Manager Brian Magee agrees it’s a big problem

for farmers: “Rural and agricultural crime is on the increase; tractors and quad bikes are being stolen and they’re very hard to recover. That’s why Burkes decided to give the police some support.” To help reduce the likelihood of farm vehicle theft, the police suggest the following measures: Remove keys and secure unattended tractors and vehicles Fit CESAR marking systems and immobilizers to valuable tractors Use security lights in yards and drives Have the registration number etched on vehicle windows Consider tracking devices for expensive vehicles Record machinery serial numbers Be vigilant – lock all gates where possible

ew Holland’s commitment to making farming easier for enhanced productivity is once again confirmed by the launch of the free ‘Farming weather forecast and services by New Holland Agriculture’ app, which forms a key element of the overarching digital strategy. New Holland is the first in the agricultural sector to develop and launch such an application, which is distinct from the purely product based apps already on the market and offers the increasing number of farmers and agribusinesses that use smart phone technology a comprehensive service. The ‘NH weather’ app, which has been optimised for iPhones and that can be downloaded from the Apple Store ( app/nh-weather/id520142846?mt=8), is set to become as important for farmers as traditional sources of information. Each morning, before starting their day, farmers and contractors will consult their personalised application to confirm or modify their day’s plans. A whole host of information is available at their fingertips, from 24 hour to long range forecasting, the latest industry news and even a service which enables them to easily contact their


NH Pioneering App 32

local dealer for further information. Accurate weather forecasting is a prerequisite for efficient and productive farming, and the ‘NH weather’ app provides exceptionally accurate local forecasts. Data is drawn from a network of over 71,000 weather stations, distributed across the world, and by using geo-location technology, data is received and analysed from the closest sub-station. A whole raft of information is available for browsing, including actual and feels like temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, of prime importance when spraying. Another important parameter that is displayed is the evaporation rate, crucial when irrigation decisions are being made. The historical data can also be accessed to plot trends and manage seasonal working patterns. Long range, seven day forecasting will also assist professional contracting operations in efficient planning, as it will enable them to decide when it is best to sow, harvest or fertilise, for example, depending on the actual forecast. Frequently visited sites can be stored and recalled, an invaluable feature for contractors that operate over vast areas, in order to optimise weather sensitive tasks during busy harvesting or foraging windows. For operations, which work in highly volatile climates, or those which experience unpredictable weather swings, an alert service can be activated which will send users a message on their smartphone, warning them of potentially difficult conditions, such as storms during the harvest season. Users will also be able to peruse the latest agricultural news from the trade press, forums and blogs as well as from New Holland which are posted on the continually updated news feed. A dealer locator has also be integrated into the package. Users can even plan a route from their current location. This useful service will reduce costly downtime when urgent advice, parts or services are required during periods of intense activity. – Issue eighty-four



Robert Wils on - 07769 726128

Storth Resolve Sediment Problems new dual-action slurry tank mixer to resolve separation problems in large, above the ground, storage tanks has been developed by slurry equipment specialist Storth Machinery. Called, simply, the Hawk, the mixer will break up the surface crust of the slurry as well as stir up and mix in the sediment at the bottom of the tank. These combined actions create a more uniform consistency of slurry for extraction and spreading, and prevent the build-up of sediment which limits tank storage capacity. The Hawk slurry tank mixer has been developed and constructed by Lancashire-based Storth Machinery and is unique in its design. It was launched at the Highland Show. The Hawk mixer can be powered from the PTO of a 120hp tractor. It consists of an external stand, which is sited on the outside of the tank, which supports the working part of the mixer – a vertical column which is hung inside the tank. At the bottom of the interior vertical column is a pump drum



impeller, which sucks in liquid slurry. This is ejected via two discharge nozzles: one is located at the bottom of the column and agitates the sediment in the tank. A second discharge nozzle is located at the top of the column above the slurry surface – this can rotate 300° and jets liquid across the top of the slurry. The weight of the falling liquid will break up surface crust. A hand-held remote control enables the operator to change the direction of the upper discharge nozzle and adjust flow rates from the viewing platform. The dual action nature of the mixer ensures that sediment is mixed from the bottom of the tank and up into the liquid fraction, whilst surface crust is broken and sinks down into the liquid fraction. The overall result is slurry of a more uniform consistency. Storth Machinery’s Chris Richardson explains: “Farmers are installing larger diameter tanks and storing greater volumes of slurry. So there’s a need to have a more efficient method of mixing the slurry

than the existing propeller mixers. We had received enquiries from farmers concerned about how to shift the sediment at the bottom of their above-ground tanks, and so we developed the Hawk to tackle the issue at two levels. “Sedimentation and crust formation are also a problem in NVZ areas where a five or six month closed period for spreading means many tanks are being left unstirred

during this time. The sheer volume of slurry creates a big challenge in the spring. “The Hawk is available in heights ranging from 10ft to 20ft. However, we can increase the size further where tanks have a base below ground level.” The Hawk slurry tank mixer was showcased for the first time at the Highland Show. It is available in a range of sizes, starting at £15,500 + VAT for a 10ft tall model. – Issue eighty-four

Tatties on Telly resh potatoes are to take a starring role this summer, enabled by the EU co-funded campaign the ‘Many Faces of Potatoes’. Consumer roadshows, PR stories and a new TV advert will all feature as part of the activity. The advertisement, which features five scenes portraying the ‘Many Faces


of Potatoes’, will run across ITV (breakfast and daytime) and Sky Media channels from 9 to 22 July. Using a range of figureheads, including a Potato Ambassador, Michelin Star chef, food blogger, school pupils and the winner of the consumer recipe competition, the advert will highlight the versatility

and convenience of fresh potatoes. Consumers will also be able to try tasty new potato recipes at a series of roadshows taking place throughout the summer. The competition, fronted by TV chef James Martin, encouraged members of the public to share their ‘30 minute’ potato meal ideas at The best recipes were selected from a group of regional finalists by a panel of food experts including James. It was Angie Slater’s dish of ‘Smoked Salmon and Potato Cakes, Soured Cream and Chives’ that was chosen to be in the final advert.

Nominations for Tattie Title otato Council is seeking nominations for this year's British Potato Industry Award, This prestigious honour is presented to an individual recognised for their outstanding contribution to the GB potato industry. Potato Council continues to back progressive moves by leaders in the fields of marketing, innovation and research and development who satisfy this demand. By presenting this award it recognises the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of those who have made outstanding contributions to any

P – Issue eighty-four

sector of the GB potato industry. Allan Stevenson, Potato Council chairman, comments: ‘”The British potato industry is made-up of many wonderful people who have helped shape it to what it is today. With new developments within the industry, the award is a great way to acknowledge those who have made a significant impact towards the advances made in the potato industry. We are asking for nominations of outstanding people for this award from all sectors within the industry. “Please help us find a new, worthy

winner for 2012, someone you think deserves recognition for going the extra mile.” To nominate a person for the British Potato Industry Award visit 0440926 or contact Margaret Skinner for a nomination form to complete before September 30, 2012. The award committee, drawn from the different sectors of the GB potato industry, will select the winner from those nominated. The winner of this prestigious award will receive a rose bowl, which

will be presented at the Seed Industry Event in Crieff on November 20. Nomination forms are available from the award committee secretary, Margaret Skinner, British Potato Industry Award, Potato Council, Rural Centre, West Mains, Newbridge, Midlothian, EH28 8NZ, or e-mail or Tel: 0131 472 4064




Forestry Commission Scotland Starter Farmers

rior to the Royal Highland Show, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed Scotland's newest farmers into the industry. Mr Lochhead met Craig Malone (aged 27 from Stirling) and Zander Hughes (25) from Dunfermline, the first two new entrants to Forestry Commission Scotland's Starter Farms initiative. The pair beat off stiff competition for the two starter farms being offered as part of a pilot run for new entrants by the Forestry Commission. Both Craig and Zander will now take up ten year tenancy agreements starting in October on Pitcairn and South Dundonald Farms in West Fife. Mr Lochhead made the announcement while visiting the young farmers at South Dundonald Farm. He said: “The Royal Highland Show at Ingliston is an excellent showcase for all that is great about Scotland's rural industries and attracts interest from around the globe. "However, the successful future of farming depends on being able to attract new entrants into the industry and giving potential farmers an opportunity to get a foot on the farming ladder. "That's why the Scottish Government is eager to explore ways to encourage and develop talent and new opportunities for the next generation of Scottish Farmer. I am delighted that Craig and Zander have been awarded tenancies by Forestry Commission Scotland. "Land based opportunities are



limited but I am extremely encouraged by the Commission which has worked closely with the industry to develop its Starter Farm Initiative. "The farms complement the Commission's wider woodland creation, environmental and public access objectives and meet the needs of the agricultural industry alike. With this in mind, I am pleased that the Commission will, later this year, make three more starter farm units available to new entrants." In Aberdeenshire and Dumfriesshire the Commission will offer 'part time' farming units using a similar model to the two Fife farms, while the third will trial a different approach offering land and buildings alone. This is targeted at those working and living in the locality and will offer a business opportunity to a new entrant or someone wishing to up-scale. Simon Hodge, Forestry Commission Scotland, added; "We continue to explore ways to integrate woodland creation and farming, to work with new and existing tenants and to ensure the best use of the land resource within our stewardship. "Throughout the selection process it has been gratifying to see the abundant talent and enthusiasm within the industry and if there is a downside to this process it has been having to disappoint some high calibre applicants." The new tenants are being warmly welcomed by the local farming community, led by the West Fife

Agricultural Society, which presented the pair with an attractive package that includes a year's subscription to a number of local and national farming and land-based organisations, access to free financial accounting services, and possibly most importantly, access to a local network of fellow farmers who are able and willing to help the new entrants on their journey. Speaking on behalf of the West Fife Agricultural Society, David Bonn, added; "It can be a particularly challenging time when you start up your farming business, that's why we are pleased to be able to offer some additional support to Craig and Zander, which will hopefully provide them with some business support that will help them achieve their business plans." The package being offered to the two new entrants free of charge is made up of memberships and services provided by Scottish Agricultural Colleges, Scottish Agronomy, Tayforth Machinery Ring, Thomson Cooper (accountants), Quality Meat Scotland, National Farmers Union Scotland and Scottish Tenant Farmers Association Craig Malone, from Stirling, will be farming at Pitcairn. He responded by saying "This is a tremendous opportunity that Forestry Commission Scotland has provided for young entrants – a chance like this does not come along very often. It's a true honour to have been awarded this tenancy in the face of such stiff competition."

Zander Hughes, from Dunfermline, who will be the new tenant at South Dundonald, said "I am delighted to have been selected for the South Dundonald tenancy, giving me the opportunity to farm in my own right. The experience I will gain over the next ten years will be invaluable to me and I look forward to the challenges ahead." A selection process similar to the one followed for this pilot programme will be opened to applicants in the Autumn. It is the FCS aspiration that new entrants for these farms will be appointed by Spring 2013. Both of the starter farms in Fife consist of grade 3.2 agricultural land and land that has been reinstated following colliery workings. They were both on the market for over a year before FC Scotland's offers were accepted. Around half the land on each farm will be wooded, with the remaining half being made available for farming. The farmed area at Pitcairn is 95 hectares and the farmed area at South Dundonald is 49 hectares. Both include a farm house and farm buildings. LTD tenancy agreements have been awarded. The selection panel for the two Forestry Commission Scotland Starter Farms was made up of Brent Meakin (Forest District Manager, Scottish Lowlands), Laurie Tyson (Head of Estates, FCS), Robin Waddell (Agricultural Advisor, FCS), Henry Graham (FCS Board Member), Brian Stevenson (SGRPID Perth) and John Cameron (Farmer, Balbuthie, Leven) – Issue eighty-four

Scots lift NSA European Young Shepherd of the Year Titles

cotland’s Simon Turkington is the NSA Young Shepherd of the Year. Simon collected the prestigious MSD Footvax award together with the new Rumenco European NSA Young Shepherd of the Year award, at NSA Sheep 2012, the industry’s biennial event staged by the National Sheep Association at Malvern last week after completing a pentathlon of activities designed to test theyoungsters shepherding skills. Each of the competition’s 22 entrants from throughout the UK, were required to sort finished lambs,

S – Issue eighty-four

demonstrate handling, vaccinating and dosing techniques, shear, put an ATV through its paces, and respond to questions on flock management and health issues. Simon who graduated with an HND in agriculture from Harper Adams University and whose ambition is to stay at the forefront of agriculture, is a professional shearer. He gained experience in New Zealand and currently manages 450 ewes for James Fleming, Blingery, Wick. “I’m delighted to receive the award; it was an unexpected win.”

Simon who was runner up in the same pentathlon of activities at NSA Scot Sheep last month, found the places were reversed at Malvern with NSA Scottish Young Shepherd of the Year, Kenneth O’Connor in runner up spot. Kenneth, an HND graduate from Oatridge College and formerly of the Isle of Skye, is shepherd to Jimmy Warnock’s 600 ewe flock based at Lanark where he also runs his own flock of pedigree Beltex. Simon and Kenneth as the Scottish Team, won the pairs section. NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker

commented: “The association was pleased to support the pentathlon event since these young people are essential to the future of the sheep industry and we are now seeing increasing numbers of new entrants attracted by an industry that is rewarding and fulfilling and has clear public support. We were very impressed by the overall high calibre of entrants and we were also grateful to our sponsors MSD Footvax and Rumenco for their recognition of the importance of these youngsters to the sheep industry.”




Fyall’s Focus The History of Sittyton

Amos Cruikshank

by John Fyall uch of the debate on new entrants has focused on young farmers and college leavers. Before getting the chance of Sittyton I spent 15 years working in many sectors of the industry and yet still lack experience in some vital areas such is the breadth of skills needed. Also farming in an area where I am not native, do not have family or older friends in farming to guide the way – I have to accept that any failures cannot be blamed on others! On paper and with business matters I know how most things should be done, but as a part time farmer with limited financial resources, most things are done as they can be and not always as I know they should be. I firmly believe that if I had gained a tenancy at 20 I would not have had the mental constitution, attitude or the resourcefulness to keep things going forward. I have met many people in their thirties, forties and upwards who still have much to offer, who have forged careers out with agriculture, or in farming’s ancillary trades and would love the opportunity to farm but may not get the chance, yet the industry needs people who c a n look at things from different angles. Two such people were the young men who took on the tenancy of this



farm in 1837. Anthony Cruikshank was a Milner in Aberdeen with business acumen and contacts. Amos, his brother had practical experience and was an exceptional young cattleman. I had never heard of these men and knew only of this District’s importance in the Aberdeen Angus breed. After gaining the tenancy, it was a farmer from foreign shores that told me of the Sittyton Herd of Shorthorns. “ Google” and a Shorthorn breeding neighbour then filled me in. Anthony placed importance on breeding and pedigree, whilst Amos had in his mind cattle for the tenant farmer, which would flesh easily. Amos was steadfast in his pursuit of a type of animal suited to the farmer’s pocket and butcher’s knife. He did not see this in the small natives of the area, or indeed in the way Shorthorn breeding was heading, so sought to fix his own vision. His success on the show field was limited, but ultimately his type prevailed, especially in the New World, selling to Canada, USA and South America. Initially on-farm auction sales were used to sell Sittyton produce, but after 20 years their private export sales were such that farm sales stopped. In 1859 the bull Champion of England was born and Amos realised the type he wanted in

the flesh. His vision and strength was reflected in this bull, one of the most important animals in the breed’s history, yet unplaced by show judges of the day. At peak, the Cruikshanks had a herd of 300 pure beef Shorthorns, wintered on turnips and oat straw. Annual export consignments were made from Portsmouth and Aberdeen, using known and trusted agents. Over the 50 plus years farming here, these men saw opportunities and pursued and achieved goals, in times where agricultures fortunes fluctuated rapidly. When times were poor the Cruickshanks, even when elderly, seized opportunities. I wonder how these two highly capable young men of 1837 would fair now in building a farm business from nothing and what opportunities would they spot? I wondered why they were not commonly discussed in farming lore and found two reasons. Firstly, the family were Quakers, unassuming and not boastful, Amos being known as the ‘Silent Sage of Sittyton’. He was sparing with comments and never self-praising, nor sought praise. Secondly, families often perpetuate fame and standing, but there were no successors. Anthony married, but my visit to the neat little Quaker cemetery in nearby

Kinmuck showed that his only daughter died young. Amos relinquished his various tenancies in 1889 when ill health saw the final dispersal of the Sittyton herd. By this time the cattle had been recognised for their worth and his “Scotch Shorthorns” were snapped up by keen buyers from both sides of the Atlantic. Amos was married to his cattle only and saw his days out on Sittyon and even the house disappeared soon after, with only the kitchen and maids room surviving a fire. The Cruickshank’s left a genetic legacy around the world and I am only some way through finding and reading the literature devoted to the breeding and farming practices here. They also left good drains, improved soil and enclosed fields. To those fields last month we brought a Shorthorn bull and 3 pure heifers into the herd. I don’t know what Amos would think of the new tenant’s choice, or indeed what Amos would think of the new tenant. I hope they would wish me half their success though, not in finance or in fame, but in implementing ideas and achieving stock that do their job and please their breeder. And if I could emulate their early nights and no work Sundays it would also be a bonus!! – Issue eighty-four

he Tayside Farm Management Association raised ÂŁ2,636.08 through a raffle at their Annual Dinner earlier this year and this has been split equally between the two Countryside Initiatives that cover Tayside. Pictured from right are Rob Beaty (TMFA Treasurer) presenting the cheque to Bruce Christie (CM RHET ACI), children from Andover Primary School who were attending the Food & Farming Day organized by RHET ACI at the Angus Show, Hugh Black (TMFA CM) and RHET Project Co-ordinator Carol Littlewood.

T Range of kids , Teflon coated, waterproof jackets and trousers and all-in-one s uits. All can be washed and tumble dried. Phone PuddleJumpers on 01298 83812 for direct ordering or with any questions.

Lana Maxwell, Aged 6 Midmar, Aberdeenshire

Art Competition Winners

James, Aged 7 Inverurie, Aberdeenshire – Issue eighty-four


Issue 84  

Farming magazine, covering both livestock and arable sectors.

Issue 84  

Farming magazine, covering both livestock and arable sectors.