Farmers and crofters are invited to the next meeting of the Sutherland Monitor Farm, which will focus on ways Scottish livestock farmers can improve the utilisation of grass on their farms to maximise output and keep costs down.
Trevor Cook, a grazing consultant and qualified vet from New Zealand, will be the guest speaker at the meeting, which will be held at Brora Golf Club on Wednesday 13 September.
At the meeting Mr Cook will share his extensive knowledge on how livestock farmers can set up a grazing management system on their own farms. He will then go on to look at the key drivers of the benefits and profit in such a system.
The group will then work together to develop some simple feed demands and calculations.
Trevor Cook has been working with Vic and Jason Ballantyne from Clynelish Farm, the Sutherland Monitor Farm, over the last year and has already helped them review their grazing management strategy and outline ways they can increase their output from grass.
Jason Ballantyne commented: “One of the things Trevor does extremely well is make you appreciate how important it is to manage your grass correctly and how planning ahead can help you get the most from it.
“Being a vet, he can also demonstrate the importance of getting both the health and nutrition right in order to optimise performance of your livestock.”
Victoria Ballantyne added: “What we love about Trevor Cook is that he is really profit focused, which is important to us, so he won’t suggest something unless it will make strong financial sense to do it.”
As well as 80 suckler cows, the Ballantynes run 900 breeding ewes, of which about half are Lairg type Cheviots and the other half Lleyn cross. The couple’s store lambs are generally sold through Dingwall Mart or off farm privately with a small number of prime lambs going to Elgin (Mey Selections).
This year the family produced 1,300 lambs, 900 of which were sold as stores at Dingwall last month.
After lunch at the forthcoming meeting, Jason and Vic Ballantyne will share their recent store lamb sales data with those present and the group will compare the figures with previous years’ data.
“We are really quite pleased with the price we got for this year’s store lambs. Although trade was slightly down this year, our lambs averaged £53.43, which was slightly higher than 2016,” said Mr Ballantyne.
The group will then head to Clynelish farm to have a look at what winter grazing options can be implemented on the farm, with input from Trevor and other local farmers.
Clynelish Farm is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
The meeting at Brora Golf Club, which is free to attend and open to all, will begin at 11am, with coffee/registration from 10.30am.
To book your attendance at the next Sutherland Monitor farm meeting on Wednesday 13 September please contact Willie Budge or Cat MacGregor, the project facilitators at SAC Consulting Thurso on 01847 892602 or email FBSThurso@sac.co.uk
For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk