Next week’s meeting of the Sutherland Monitor Farm will focus on ewe management over the lambing period and also discuss which grass mixes could be sown to maximise grazing potential in the year ahead.
Farmers and crofters are invited to the free meeting at Clynelish, near Brora, on Tuesday 14th March, when host farmers Jason and Victoria Ballantyne will share their scanning results.
The nutritional management of their ewes will also be in the spotlight, ahead of this year’s lambing, which is due to begin outdoors at the end of April.
The Ballantynes run 900 breeding ewes, of which about half are Lairg-type Cheviots and the remainder, Lleyn crosses. Their scanning rate in 2016 was 161% however the couple are keen to identify ways to increase it in the future.
Jason Ballantyne commented: “We know how important it is to maintain the ewes at the correct condition score and ensure that the ewe’s increasing nutritional requirements are met throughout pregnancy to make sure we get strong healthy lambs and milky mothers.”
They will be joined by independent sheep consultant Rhidian Jones who will talk about the nutritional requirements of the ewe throughout the year and the importance of feeding high quality forage through the winter.
The Ballantynes have focused considerable attention on improving the grass and soil at Clynelish and have seen some good results. They are keen to establish is a rotational grazing system and Mr Jones will give an overview on grassland management and how farmers can establish a simple rotational grazing system on their own farms. There will also be a discussion about which grass mixtures the group feel Clynelish should sow this spring, and possible brassica options for the farm.
Clynelish also runs 80 suckler cows which are a mostly a mixture of Simmental cross native breeds. Calves are born outside in May and June and are sold as stores at 10 months old. The couple are keen to hear ideas about how they can improve their calf management and at the meeting they will share the performance data of their 2016-born calves, due to be sold at Thainstone in the coming months.
Clynelish Farm is one of the nine new monitor farms that has been established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
To book your attendance (and lunch!) at the meeting at Clynelish on 14th March please contact Willie Budge or Cat MacGregor, the project facilitators at SAC Consulting Thurso on 01847 892602, or email FBSThurso@sac.co.uk