The couple who have been appointed the first monitor farmers for Peeblesshire are looking forward to introducing new ideas to the farm business to maximise the farm’s potential.
Kate and Ed Rowell have farmed the 1800 acres Hundleshope Farm, three miles south of Peebles, for eight years and next month will host the first monitor farm meeting in the area.
The couple run the beef and sheep farm in partnership with Mrs Rowell’s parents, Ann and John Brown, and are tenants of the Haystoun Estate, owned by Mrs Mary Coltman. Mrs Rowell is the fifth generation to have farmed on the estate where her family have been tenants for almost 150 years.
The pair, who have four children, run 75 suckler cows and 750 ewes on the property which extends to 2200 feet above sea level.
The spring-calving suckler herd, comprised of Limousin, British Blue and Simmental cross cows put to a Charolais bull, produces calves which are sold as stores through Lawrie and Symington at Lanark.
The Rowells’ sheep enterprise is comprised of 400 Scotch Mule and Texel cross ewes which produce fat lambs and 350 Blackface ewes used to produce replacement ewe lambs and wethers. Around 60 acres of spring barley is grown and this is retained for feeding stock.
Mrs Rowell, also a qualified vet, said the pair were inspired to get involved with the monitor farm programme when they heard former monitor farmer Rob Livesey speaking at a Peeblesshire Discussion Society meeting.
“To us, it sounded a really positive opportunity. As a vet you have to undertake continuous professional development but in farming that doesn’t exist. Getting involved in the monitor farm project is a step in that direction though and hopefully it will give us an opportunity to run our business better,” said Mrs Rowell.
Among the areas the couple hope to improve during the course of their three year term as monitor farmers is the performance of their hill sheep flock.
“We have a very poor hill and we’d be open to any ideas to increase the productivity of sheep on the hill. Ed’s also keen to look at improving the soil structure of the grassland,” she said.
The pair are clearly open to new ideas and have been experimenting with growing chicory. “We don’t have figures to prove it yet but it definitely appears to be helping reduce the worm burden. We also enjoy comparing the performance of tups I’ve chosen using EBV (Estimated Breeding Value) figures with those Ed has selected by eye!” she added.
Ian MacDougall, Technical Projects Manager with Quality Meat Scotland which supports the monitor farm programme said: “We’re delighted to welcome Kate and Ed on board and I’m sure they will be first class monitor farmers.
“Their enthusiasm and commitment make them a very welcome addition to the excellent network of monitor farms now established around Scotland.
“Importantly the opportunities to improve the efficiency and performance of their farm business uncovered over the next three years will be shared, not only with the community group of farmers who attend meetings at Hundleshope, but with farmers throughout Scotland.”
Two facilitators have been appointed to support the Peebleshire Monitor Farm – Chris McDonald and Jennifer Brown of SAC Consulting, a division of SRUC, Scotland's Rural College.
The first meeting of the new Peeblesshire Monitor Farm will be held on November 7th. If you wish to attend please register your interest with Chris McDonald on 0131 535 3430, firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer Brown on 01835 823322 at email@example.com
For further information on monitor farms and detailed reports of meetings visit www.qmscotland.co.uk/monitorfarms
Caption: Pictured from left are monitor farmers Kate and Ed Rowell, facilitators Jennifer Brown and Chris McDonald, both of SAC, and Ian MacDougall, Quality Meat Scotland’s Technical Projects Manager.