Monitor farm latest update
A farm tour gave attendees at the Nithsdale Monitor farm meeting the opportunity to see the changes made on Clonhie Farm over the last 12 months.
One of the things that was reviewed was the overwintering grazing system the farm established for the first time.
Andrew Marchant, who runs 1,000 breeding ewes and a small suckler herd of 20 Luing cows over a total of 303 hectares, said: “We’ve always struggled to find enough grazing for our ewes over winter.
“So when the management group suggested that we try paddock grazing on deferred grass and strip grazing on kale for the ewes last winter, I was keen to give it a go.”
The Marchants set up 25 hectares of deferred grass for paddock grazing, and four hectares of kale that was sown in May last year.
The flock was then split between the two systems with the flock of twins and triplets strip grazing the majority of the kale after scanning.
Although there was a time cost in moving the ewes every two days in the paddock grazing system, Mr Marchant was enthused with the result.
He said: “I think it went really well. We definitely saved money on feed, as I didn’t have to buy in as much concentrate, and I was really pleased with the condition of the ewes.”
Clonhie expanded in 2015 when it took over the tenancy of neighbouring Glengar Farm which gave an extra 135 hectares of grazing.
“We haven’t really done anything with this land yet, other than have the soil sampled and analysed,” said Mr Marchant.
“We are therefore really keen to get suggestions from other farmers about how we can manage this land and maximise its output.”
The farm tour also gave those attending the opportunity to see the red deer that have recently moved to Clonhie. Mr Marchant invested in 65 in calf hinds to complement his existing sheep and cattle enterprises.
He said: “I’ve worked with deer before so, after doing some research and looking at the financial benefits of running a deer enterprise, it seemed like the natural choice for us to diversify in this way.
“They have settled in really well and are due to calve any day now, so there might even be some young calves to see at our next meeting.”
He has already fenced 40 acres of land and although admits that there is a substantial financial investment required to establish a deer enterprise, he is confident that the 400-strong herd, which he hopes to establish over the coming years, will help increase the profitability of his business.
After lunch, Mr Marchant gave a report on how lambing and calving went at Clonhie this spring and the group turned their attention to planning for the remainder of the spring and summer season. They also looked at the costs of setting up the deep enterprise and the projected margins expected.
The Nithsdale monitor farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. The aim of the programme, which is funded by Scottish Government, is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk.
Bumper crop Andrew Marchant, Nithsdale monitor farmer, with facilitator Rhidian Jones with Clonhie Farm’s fields of kale