Farmers throughout Scotland are invited to attend a webinar by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) to hear from two producers about their experiences, challenges, and successes of outwintering cattle youngstock on 23 February.
The interactive discussion will take place at 7:00pm on 23 February via zoom and will examine how the development of a modern era of outwintering could help make simple savings on variable costs and improve stock health.
Guest speaker David Aglen, Farm Manager of Balbirnie Home Farms near Freuchie, Fife, began outwintering youngstock three years ago after the decision to change the livestock policy to help economic growth of the large farming enterprise.
“For us, it was an economic decision,” explains David. “Cattle are capable of harvesting the crop, processing it, and fertilising the fields, so we saw the opportunity to cut back on investing large amounts of money on equipment to do the same job for us.
“We run over 170 Simmental cross Shorthorn cows and five years ago took the decision to move away from an intensive based system and focus on outwintering.
“We started the process by transitioning the cows, and the youngstock followed two years later.”
Joining David as a guest speaker is Duncan Morrison who, five years ago, secured the tenancy at Meikle Maldron, near Torphins, Aberdeenshire which he runs alongside his family farm at Upper Ingliston, Inverurie. For Duncan, outwintering cattle has allowed him to establish a low input system to continue to work away from home with his fencing business, as well as reducing initial investment costs in machinery and equipment.
“From day one I have outwintered the cows,” says Duncan. “With limited shed space and the aim to keep input costs low, I attended a number of QMS grazing group meetings to learn more about outwintering cattle on forage crops and have never looked back.”
With just over 100 pure Aberdeen Angus, Aberdeen Angus cross and Stabiliser cows, Duncan has this year, for the first time trialled keeping 38 weaned heifers out over the winter, which will be kept as replacements for the herd.
QMS Cattle and Sheep Specialist, John Evans, who will chair the discussion, said that this is an opportunity for farmers to understand the reasoning behind outwintering youngstock and urged farmers everywhere to book their online presence in advance, adding there will be ample opportunity for participants to ask questions and share their own experiences.
“Obviously not every farm may be suited to outwintering their entire stock, but whether it be introducing brassica crops such as kale or deferred grazing on hill pastures, farmers can begin to cut the costs and labour of keeping cows and youngstock, which can have a positive effect on their bottom line. Even if your ground is not suitable then look across the fence and explore collaborative opportunities with a local arable farmer – it really can be a win for both parties.”
Register in advance for this webinar: