Three workshops next month will consider the options to achieve cost-effective forage for their ewes next winter, at a time of year when grass growth is minimal.
The free events are part of a Quality Meat Scotland series focused on the winter management of ewes.
The meetings, starting at 10.30am, will take place on the following days: Tuesday 14th February 2017 at Balintore Hall, Seaboard Centre, Tain; Wednesday 15th February 2017 at Newburgh Inn; and Tuesday 21 February 2017 at Auchencloigh Hall, Galston.
The workshops, delivered by SAC Consulting, part of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, are aimed at producers who run breeding ewes and are keen to consider cost-effective options to meet their ewes’ nutritional requirements in winter.
Each of the meetings will start in the hall or hotel venues with an overview of the winter management strategies being successfully used by a selected farmer in each area. This will be followed by a visit to their local farm to see how different grazing strategies and forage crops are being successfully utilized over the winter period.
The Aberdeenshire meeting will include a farm visit hosted by Dane Davidson of Brogan Farms, near Newburgh. The business lambs 4,100 sheep per annum and faces the challenge of high winter feed costs. However, this year the Davidsons have attempted to reduce this cost by growing swedes for overwintering ewes pre-lambing.
In Galston, farmer Jimmy Gibb of Threepwood Farm will give an overview of his over-wintering ewe management at the meeting which will include a visit to the farm. Mr Gibb runs 420 ewes, along with 40 ewe lambs retained for breeding. An additional 70 of the smaller ewe lambs are retained to be tupped as gimmers. Ewes are crossed to the Bluefaced Leicester to produce Cheviot Mules and some of these have been crossed previously with the Lleyn.
The Tain farm visit is being hosted by John Scott of Fearn Farm where an extensive area of fodder brassicas has been established, including, fodder beet, swedes, kale, stubble turnips and forage rape.
After the farm visit attendees will return to the hall/hotel venues for an afternoon session looking at alternative options for overwintering ewes, including brassicas, all-grass wintering and housing ewes. This will be led by SAC Consulting’s sheep specialist team including John Vipond, Poppy Frater and Kirsten Williams. The workshops will finish at 3.30pm.
Michael Blanche, Knowledge Transfer Specialist at QMS, said this workshops will offer a valuable opportunity for farmers to consider different winter grazing strategies and potential changes which could benefit their businesses.
“These workshops will look at the low-cost winter feed options which are being successfully used to overcome the challenge of providing forage for ewes over the winter months. Alternative options for overwintering ewes will also be explored,” said Mr Blanche.
More information on the workshops, including how to book a free place, is available in the events section of the QMS website www.qmscotland.co.uk