21st November 2011

First meeting arranged for new Cairngorms Monitor Farm

Caption: Charles and George Gordon on the hill at Lost Farm

The first meeting of the recently appointed Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) Monitor Farm for Eastern Cairngorms will take place on Wednesday 30 November in the Lonach Hall at Strathdon. The meeting will start at 11am and finish around 3.30pm.  

Lost Farm at Strathdon is within the Cairngorms National Park and is run by Charles Gordon and his father George. 

Alister Laing, one of the two appointed SAC facilitators commented: “There is an encouraging degree of local interest already and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to this new Cairngorms Monitor Farm.”

“The meeting will start with a detailed description of Charles and George Gordon’s farm business and this will be followed by a visit to Lost Farm for a tour of the four units and a look at the farm buildings and stock.”

“We’ll return to the Hall for a soup and sandwich lunch before the afternoon session which involves looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by the farm business. This will help to develop ideas for future meetings.”

The current operation at Lost Farm is the result of a recent merger between Charles and George Gordon’s two separate businesses. There are several enterprises and sites within the business and all are sited within the Cairngorms National Park.

Lost extends to 457ha comprising 24ha crops, 68ha temporary grazing, 219ha permanent grazing, 140ha rough grazing with 6ha made over to turnips and another 9ha allocated to environmental schemes such as wild bird seed and rush management Land Management Options (LMOs). All crops grown on the farm are fed to stock.

The unit currently runs 90 suckler cows, 80 to 90 stores, around 60 bulling heifers, 920 ewes plus 400 hogs and around 1,400 lambs. The progeny from the suckler cows are sold as yearlings and the bulling heifers are calved and then sold with calves at foot.  The lambs are either sold store or finished, depending on market conditions.

Charles Gordon commented that he is looking forward to being involved in the project.

“Merging my business with my father’s already started a process of change and we believe the monitor farm process is an opportunity to develop the farm both physically and financially in order to release its full potential.”

Monitor Farms are a platform for one farm in an area, supported by a community group of farmers, to look at the productivity and profitability of the whole farm business over a three year period.

The Monitor Farmer seeks to improve farm profitability through a process of peer review and advice, and specialist input and support from the Monitor Farm Facilitators. 

QMS Technical Projects Manager Peter Beattie said: “The farm’s three year participation in the project aims to improve farm business profit by closely examining and trialling new ideas in key areas of the business.”

“The exchange of knowledge from everyone involved is vital to the success of the process and our experience of previous Monitor Farm Projects shows that many of the farm businesses belonging to participants also benefitted from taking part in the project.”

The funding for the three year project is delivered both financially and in-kind. The principal project funders are QMS, the Scottish Government and the Cairngorms National Park Authority with support from the National Farmers Union of Scotland, CKD Galbraith and Johnston Carmichael.

If you would like to attend the meeting, please contact the Monitor Farm Facilitator, Alister Laing or Senior Administrator, Susan Clark at SAC’s Elgin Office on 01343 548787.

The Lonach Hall, is in Strathdon/Bellabeg, and is directly accessed from the A944, Donside road on the Highland Tourist Route and from here it is well signposted. The postcode is AB36 8UN.


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