Monitor Farm meeting planned

The potential to improve grass management and optimise lamb growth rates will be the main points of discussion at the next Shetland Monitor Farm meeting on Saturday.

Host farmers Kirsty and Aimee Budge from Bigton Farm will give an update on their activities since April, including a report on their lambing and calving this year.

Some of the discussion will focus on a new rotational grazing method being used at Bigton for the farm’s 70 spring suckler cows – something which has never before been done.

This has seen a 4.8 hectare field divided into four paddocks using electric fencing.

The benefits of managing grassland in this way will be discussed – and those who attend will be able to see the paddock grazing for themselves.

Options to improve lamb growth rates will also come under discussion.

For the first time this year feed blocks with a high level of digestible undegradable protein have been placed on St Ninian’s Isle, where the ewes and lambs graze throughout the summer. It is hoped that the additional supply of protein will help boost milk production in the ewes, and subsequent lamb growth.

While the ewes on the isle have access to the blocks, a second group of ewes and lambs have been moved to similar grazing on the family’s other farm, Toab, and will not have access to these blocks. The weights of the lambs from both groups of ewes will be recorded regularly throughout the summer to see if the there is a difference in the lambs’ growth rates.

The Budges are keen to try and improve the control of weeds on their grassland and barley at Bigton and the meeting will be joined by Colin Bowers from Dow Agrosciences Ltd who will explain weed control options.

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, with funding from the Scottish government.

The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The Shetland Monitor Farm meetings are open and free for all farmers and crofters to attend.

Bookings for attendance and lunch should be made through the SAC Consulting office in Lerwick by close of play tomorrow.


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