Get­ting back to grass roots

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS - Sat­ur­day, July 29, 2017

Qual­ity Meat Scot­land (QMS) has launched a new ini­tia­tive to get farm­ers and crofters mak­ing bet­ter use of grass.

The red meat levy body’s Bet­ter Graz­ing pro­gramme fol­lows on from the suc­cess of its Graz­ing Group project which con­cluded in March.

It sets out to help live­stock pro­duc­ers find ways to im­prove the util­i­sa­tion of grass on their farms and in­crease the amount of meat pro­duced per acre.

Six groups will be set up in Perth, In­verurie, In­ver­ness, Camp­bel­town, Locker­bie and Mel­rose.

Each group will meet four times a year and in­stead of be­ing based around a host farm, as was the case with the pre­vi­ous scheme, the new ini­tia­tive will con­sist of farm vis­its to en­ter­prises where changes to graz­ing man­age­ment have been made.

Farm vis­its will also be made to group mem­bers who are keen to make bet­ter use of their grass with help and sup­port from the rest of the group.

QMS said the top­ics be­ing cov­ered over the course of the three-year project in­clude: graz­ing strate­gies; win­ter­ing sys­tems; fenc­ing and wa­ter­ing op­tions; how to ex­tend the graz­ing sys­tem; soil man­age­ment; the con­trol of in­ter­nal par­a­sites and ru­mi­nant nutri­tion. Meet­ings will in­clude pre­sen­ta­tions from a range of ex­pert speak­ers and farm­ers from across Scot­land who will share their ex­pe­ri­ence of how they im­proved grass­land man­age­ment on their farms.

For ex­am­ple, Dunkeld farmer Alex Brew­ster will speak at the launch of the In­ver­ness re­gional graz­ing group next month.

Mr Brew­ster, who pre­vi­ously hosted the Perthshire Graz­ing Group at his 2,400-acre Rot­mell Farm, said: “There is no doubt the graz­ing group ex­pe­ri­ence has put us on the right road to build­ing a vi­able busi­ness in what is just now an un­cer­tain farm­ing in­dus­try.”

QMS head of in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment, Dou­glas Bell, urged all live­stock farm­ers to get in­volved and learn more about im­prov­ing their out­put from grass.

He said: “The Bet­ter Graz­ing pro­gramme pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for live­stock farm­ers to im­prove their cur­rent graz­ing man­age­ment and the im­pact on their bot­tom line.

“Farm­ers in­volved with the orig­i­nal QMS Graz­ing Group project have shown that mak­ing changes to their graz­ing has led to an in­crease in their farms prof­itabil­ity, not only through re­duced costs but also by in­creas­ing out­put.”

The north-east event takes place at the Thain­stone Cen­tre, In­verurie, on Thurs­day, Au­gust 10, while the In­ver­ness meet­ing takes place on Fri­day, Au­gust 11 at NTS Cul­lo­den.

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