8th October 2014

Planning for Profit Farm Visit - Redhouse of Barra

Increasing the kilos of beef, lamb and fruit sold off the farm annually while minimising inputs are the clear-cut priorities of Aberdeenshire farmer David Stephen, based at Redhouse of Barra, Oldmeldrum, Inverurie.

Farmers are invited to join a visit to the farm on Wednesday, October 29th at 1.00pm, as part of Quality Meat Scotland’s Planning for Profit initiative.

Planning for Profit is aimed at assisting farmers to ensure their businesses are well-placed to operate profitably in the face of reduced support payments. The initiative is supported by the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scheme, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and NFU Scotland.

Mr Stephen has increased the scale of his cattle, sheep and fruit enterprises - while reducing his cereals area from 300 to 100 acres - and he believes there is scope for further expansion. 

Excellent recording of the performance of each enterprise, partly learned from the tight management of the soft fruit tunnels, gives him the confidence that pushing up the cattle and sheep numbers can be profitable.

The farm totals 700 acres, with 100 acres of barley for home use, 40 acres of forage crops and about 25 acres of strawberries and raspberries in tunnels. Stocking consists of 230 Limousin and Simmental cross suckler cows, 1100 Highlander ewes and 300 hoggs.

Mr Stephen changed the ewe stock from Romneys six years ago because he believed the New Zealand genetics would allow him to produce more lambs with less input.

He is now a multiplier for Focus Genetics with small pure Highlander (female line) and Primera (terminal line) nucleus flocks alongside the commercial Highlanders. 

He is delighted with the breed which is proving to be highly prolific and most importantly, easy-care with all ewes lambing outside. The mothering traits of the ewes, viability of the lambs and growth on forage are remarkable, Mr Stephen said.

The cattle herd is split into 100 autumn and 130 spring calvers to match the facilities and labour available and to make full use of expensive bulls. Bull calves are kept entire and finished on a complete diet based on home-grown barley and silage.

Robert Gilchrist, Knowledge Transfer Specialist with QMS, said: “We look forward to welcoming farmers to the meeting later this month.  With low cereal prices, a good look at expanding lowground beef and sheep systems is timely.

“It promises to be an excellent opportunity to gain a valuable insight into how David has profitably expanded the cattle and sheep and successfully implemented measurement techniques he uses in his soft fruit enterprise to his cattle and sheep production system.”

To book your place at the visit to Redhouse of Barra, Oldmeldrum, Inverurie AB51 OBA. on October 29th starting at 1pm, contact Kirsty at QMS on 0131 472 4040 or email info@qmscotland.co.uk with your name, address and telephone number.

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