11th February 2011

Torloisk Announced as New Monitor Farm for Mull

New Mull monitor farmers Iain and Helen MacKay with daughters Kate (2) and Eilidh (4) flanked by facilitators Niall Campbell (left) and Donald MacKinnon.

A new monitor farm for Mull was today unveiled by Quality Meat Scotland, with the first meeting set to take place on March 9th, at 10.30am.

Torloisk Farm near Ulva Ferry, run by Iain MacKay and his wife, Helen, has been selected as Mull’s new monitor farm,

The MacKays run a total of 3100ha, predominantly hill grazings, comprised of 2880 rented hectares at Torlisk, with a further 200 ha at Torrans on the Ross of Mull rented seasonally. A further 20 ha near Perth is also rented seasonally.

The cattle enterprise is made up of 51 Highland cows, served by Highland and Simmental bulls, with most of the progeny sold store and some heifers sold for breeding.

The 850 strong flock of ewes is comprised of 400 Blackface ewes kept purebred and served by Blackface tups and 400 Blackface ewes served by Cheviot tups, with replacements being retained from this cross. The MacKays also run 50 pure Cheviots from which they breed their own tups. Hoggs are retained for replacements with the remaining lambs sold store.

The farm business employs no full-time staff but casual labour is used when necessary.

“The farm’s three year participation in the project aims to improve farm business profit by close examination and trial of new ideas in key enterprises in the business,” said Peter Beatie, Technical Projects Manager, QMS.

“The input of other farmers and knowledge exchange are hugely important to the process, and ultimately we aim to see smarter farm businesses that have learnt from participating in the project.”

Torloisk was selected by a panel of local farmers and the project facilitators, Niall Campbell and Donald MacKinnon from SAC Oban. Funding is provided by QMS and the Scottish Government under the Skills Development Scheme with support from NFUS and the Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum.

“Torloisk is a typical farm for the area which is crucial to allow the community group to share the benefits of improvements implemented on the farm. Iain and Helen are also very enthusiastic about the project and their willingness to be open about their financial and performance objectives is also vital for its success,” said Mr Campbell.

Iain MacKay, 38, said he was looking forward to being a monitor farmer and sharing the decision-making to improve his business efficiency with the community group of farmers which will now gather regularly at Torloisk.

“There’s no doubt that the more we put into being monitor farmers the more we will get out. We’re looking forward to identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the business and sharing opportunities to do things better.

“It’s too easy as a farmer to get so caught in day-to-day work that you don’t take the time to really understand how your business is doing. Being monitor farmers should, however, help to really focus our minds on the opportunities for the business and hopefully benefit other farmers too.”

The first open meeting will take place on Wednesday 9th Match at 10.30am, with attendees asked to gather at Achleck, Torloisk. The meetings are free but those interested in attending should contact SAC Oban on 01631 563093 to allow numbers to be known for catering purposes.

Further information on the monitor farm programme, including facilitators’ contact details, is available by visiting www.monitorfarms.co.uk



New Mull monitor farmers Iain and Helen MacKay with daughters Kate (2) and Eilidh (4) flanked by facilitators Niall Campbell (left) and Donald MacKinnon.

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