Livestock handling systems and the control of parasitic worms will be the main topics for discussion at the next meeting of the North Ayrshire Monitor farm on Wednesday 31st May.
The main enterprise at the 140-hectare Girtridge Farm, which is run by John Howie with help from his mother Margaret, is buying in store cattle and finishing them for sale direct to local abattoirs.
The Howies are keen to look at opportunities to improve their cattle handling systems with the dual aim of increasing their cattle management efficiency and ensuring they are handling animals safely.
“We are currently finishing 200 cattle as well as our own suckler herd, so we need handling facilities that are fit for purpose, keep the cows calm and keep us safe,” said Mr Howie.
At the meeting Dr Simon Turner, a senior researcher from Scotland’s Rural College, will talk about cattle behaviour and suggest how livestock handling systems can be designed to minimise stress in cattle and therefore reduce the risk of those working with them from becoming injured.
Dr Turner will then lead a discussion, with input from the farmers present, about how the design of the existing handling facilities at Girtridge could be improved.
The family also have a flock of 140 breeding ewes and there will be a demonstration of a mobile sheep handling system at the meeting.
Another key focus area at the meeting will be the control of parasitic worms which can seriously affect the productivity of both sheep and cattle. At the meeting Dr Heather Stevenson, a veterinary investigation officer from SAC Dumfries, will advise farmers how they can control parasitic worms in their livestock and discuss any other livestock health issues that may be a concern for local farmers.
The North Ayrshire 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.
Girtridge Farm will be hosting regular meetings over the next three years as the North Ayrshire Monitor Farm. The focus will be on the technical and financial challenges that their business, and many other farming businesses in the area, face.
The next North Ayrshire Monitor Farm meeting will begin at 10.30am on Wednesday 31 May and will be held at Girtridge Farm, Dundonald, KA2 9BX. Lunch will be included and the meeting is due to end at 3pm.
To book your lunch and confirm your attendance please contact facilitators Raymond Crerar and Carol-Anne Warnock, SAC Consulting Ayr on 01292 525252, or email FBSAyr@sac.co.uk