20th February 2018

Suckler Herd Performance Under Review at North Ayrshire Monitor Farm Meeting

Farmers are invited to the next meeting of the North Ayrshire Monitor Farm on Friday 9 March, which will focus on improving the profitability and efficiency of suckler cows.

At the meeting, which will be held at Auchans Restaurant in Dundonald, Gavin Hill, a Beef Specialist with SAC Consulting, will give an outlook for the beef industry and share ways in which farmers can increase margins on their own farms.

He will be joined by a local suckler beef producer, who will describe about how they manage their herd to maximise productivity and profitability.

John Howie, North Ayrshire’s monitor farm host, runs 250 breeding ewes and finishes over 200 cattle each year at Girtridge. The family also runs a small suckler herd of continental cross cows, which are put to a Limousin bull. All the calves are finished on-farm and sold deadweight at 20 months of age to either AK Stoddart Ltd or Highland Meats.

At the meeting, Mr Howie, who farms in partnership with his mother Margaret and sister Mary, will give an overview on how he currently manages his suckler herd. He is keen to receive feedback from local farmers about how his herd’s performance can be improved.

Last year Mr Howie conducted a full financial and performance review of Girtridge for the first time as part of the monitor farm programme which, he said, has helped him get to grips with how each of the different elements of the farm business is performing.

“We are keen to keep the suckler herd if we can but, with just ten cows, we aren’t sure whether we should expand the herd or concentrate on the finishing and sheep sides of the business,” said Mr Howie.

“Looking at the gross margins and analysing our figures in detail has really helped us get a clearer picture of what parts of the business are most profitable. This review and benchmarking with similar farms in the area will definitely help us make an informed decision about what we should do in the future.”

The North Ayrshire Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting on 9 March at the Auchans Restaurant, Dundonald, KA2 9HH will begin at 10.30am. Lunch will be provided, and the meeting is expected to finish by 3pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along on 9 March should confirm attendance by calling 01292 525252 or emailing FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk


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