1st August 2014

August Farm Meetings Focus on Lamb Finishing in Late Summer

The next round of Lamb Supply Chain meetings will take place in August on farms in Ayrshire and Kinross.  The visits are part of a series of free workshops and meetings aimed at developing a more competitive and profitable Scottish sheep sector.

Grazing, health and drafting management is critical to profitably finishing lambs off-pasture post-weaning. National experts will be on hand at the meetings to demonstrate the latest thinking, as well as a major lamb buyer who will explain the type of lamb needed to satisfy the modern consumer.

The Ayrshire meeting is being hosted by Tom Marshall and family who run a flock of 620 head including hoggs, plus 90 sucklers across 138ha (341ac) covering two units on his Mains of Tig farm near Ballantrae.

Mr Marshall’s first lambs are away before the end of June with the aim of getting all lambs finished cheaply off-pasture.  All lambs are sold deadweight to Scotbeef through the Ayrshire Country Lamb Co-operative.   

Guest speakers at Mains of Tig will include QMS Knowledge Transfer Specialist Michael Blanche and SAC Consulting’s Marion McMillan who will discuss the grazing and health management needed to finish lambs quickly post-weaning and also how best to manage ewes in early autumn to maximise next year’s lamb crop. 

Bill McKinnon of Scotbeef and Colin Mair of Ayrshire Lamb will then discuss and demonstrate how to select lambs which meet target specification and how these should be presented to arrive at the abattoir in dry, clean condition.  Later in the week, the group will have the opportunity to see the selected lambs at Scotbeef’s plant at Bridge of Allan to gain a better appreciation of what happens to lambs after the farmgate.

The Kinross meeting is being hosted by Sir David Kinloch, Parks of Aldie, Fossoway who runs a flock of 900 mule ewes plus hoggs across 255 hectares (630 ac). The farm has 164 ha (404 ac) down to grass, 32 ha (80 ac) of spring barley, 52.5 ha (130 ac) of woodland and game crops and 6.5 ha (16 ac) of kale/turnip mix grown for lamb finishing

Lambs are sold from late June onwards with as many as possible being sold off-grass. All of the lambs are sold deadweight to Scotbeef by the end of February with the tail end lambs finished indoors.

The meeting will focus on: how to use grazing management to get the lambs finished as quickly as possible; drawing lambs of the correct specification and the importance of presenting clean lambs for slaughter; health issues and weaning management; and ensuring ewes and rams are in the target condition for mating.

Guest speakers at Parks of Aldie will include Vet Caroline Robinson from SAC Perth, Sheep Specialist Rhidian Jones of SAC Consulting, and Brian Robb from Farm Stock (Scotland) – Fieldsman. The group will view the selected lambs from Parks of Aldie later that week at Scotbeef, Bridge of Allan.

Michael Blanche, QMS Knowledge Transfer Specialist who is speaking at the Mains of Tig meeting said: “I would encourage farmers to attend these meetings as they offer a great opportunity to learn from industry experts and gain a valuable insight into the supply chain.”

The meetings are being funded by QMS, Farm Stock (Scotland) Ltd and the Scottish Government Skills Development Scheme and facilitated by SAC Consulting (part of SRUC), aim to enhance collaboration and communication in the supply chain, and improve productivity and profitability at all levels.

Dates and venues for the farm meetings are:

19th  August – Tom Marshall, Mains of Tig, Ballantrae, Ayrshire KA26 0LJ, starting at 5.30pm and BBQ to follow. 

20th August – Sir David Kinloch, Parks of Aldie, Fossoway, Kinross KY13 0QH, starting at 11.00am and lunch to follow.

To register your attendance please contact Kirsty at QMS on 0131 472 4040 or email info@qmscotland.co.uk with your name, address and telephone number, stating which of the meetings you would like to attend.

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