Posted: November 20, 2018

Glenkiln Meeting to Focus on Maximising Suckler Cow Performance

The next Nithsdale Monitor Farm meeting on Thursday 29 November will focus on how to get the most from suckler beef production and will be held at Glenkiln Estate, Crocketford by kind permission of Sir Henry Keswick.

The meeting will be held at Nethertown Farm, Shawhead, DG2 9SS one of the units on the 2,400-hectare estate, where John Wildman, farm manager at Glenkiln, will explain how he and his team manage the 600 breeding cows and 3,000 ewes.

The cows at Glenkiln are a mixture of Shorthorns, Simmentals and Aberdeen Angus crosses, which are put to either an Angus, Salers or Charolais bull. Two thirds calve in the spring with the remainder calving in late summer and cows are housed from late October.

“Operating a closed herd policy, retaining heifers for replacements, we sell all cattle as stores,” said Mr Wildman, “and, like every beef farmer, we are constantly trying to improve our genetics to breed a more sustainable suckler cow.”

The estate, which is split by the A75, has recently and continues to undergo some modernisation of infrastructure. This investment has improved the facilities both for the cattle and those working with them and there will be an opportunity to view them on the 29 November.

Orkney beef farmer Steven Sandison will also attend the meeting and explain what he sees as the important opportunities to deliver profits in beef production. He will also share the findings of the Nuffield scholarship he completed in 2015 which looked at benchmarking targets for suckler herds.

Finally, in preparation for spring calving, Alistair Padkin from Nithsdale Veterinary Surgeons will outline how farmers can reduce the incidence of three major health challenges – pneumonia, coccidiosis and cryptosporidiosis in their young stock next year.

Andrew and Aileen Marchant who farm at nearby Clonhie, the Nithsdale Monitor farm, have a small herd of Luing cattle and are keen to hear if they can learn anything from the speakers at the next meeting.

“It doesn’t matter if you have six or 600 cows, I think there is a real opportunity to improve your beef herd, whether that be the genetics, the management or the health status of the animals,” said Mr Marchant.

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.

The meeting at Glenkiln Farms on Thursday 29 November will begin at 10am, end at 3pm and will include lunch.

To book your place please contact facilitator Judith Hutchison on 07718 919055 or email


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