Posted: August 17, 2018

Utilising Forage Crops and Pasture Management Top of the Agenda at Shetland Monitor Farm Meeting

Forage crops and pasture management are set to be the focus of the next Shetland Monitor farm meeting on Saturday 25 August.

Monitor Farm Community Group Chairman, Jamie Leslie, will host the meeting at Scholland Farm. Mr Leslie, who farms in partnership with his father John with help from brother Alistair, cousin Steven, wife Louise, and his three children, runs 850 ewes and over 70 cows. He also contract farms at Sumburgh Farm.

Mr Leslie has been rotational grazing his livestock for a few years and has recently been experimenting with crops such as Plantain and Fodder Beet.

The group will also hear from independent consultant Michael Blanche who will address how profit can be made through pasture management, practical ways of making rotational grazing work and how to manage higher stocking rates with challenging winters.

Mr Blanche is a first-generation farmer who started with 50 sheep on seasonal lets, and now has 1,000 ewes on a tenanted farm in Perthshire. He is also the host of The Pasture Pod podcast.

He has completed a Nuffield Scholarship which investigated growing a livestock business from very little and concluded that pasture management was the golden key to profit and equity growth.

Monitor farmers Kirsty and Aimee Budge, who farm at Bigton, are looking forward to visiting Mr Leslie’s farm and hearing from Mr Blanche on how to make profit through pasture management.

 “We are really grateful that Jamie has offered to host the visit to his farm next week,” said Kirsty Budge.

 “We, like lots of other farmers in the group, are keen to learn about how forage crops can help make our own business more efficient.

‘’We are also really looking forward to hearing from Michael Blanche on how pasture management can aid profit and growth.”

At the meeting on 25 August, Kirsty and Aimee Budge will also update the group on developments at Bigton including the barley trial plots and the grazing season.

The Shetland 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 on Saturday 25 August will begin at Ness Boating Club at 2.30pm and end at 6pm after a barbeque.

To book your attendance (and place at the barbeque) please contact Graham Fraser, SAC Consulting Lerwick on 01595 693520 or email


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