Mon­i­tor farm lat­est up­date

The Galloway News - - FARMING REVIEW -

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

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