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Angus Monitor Farm Meeting Focuses on Importance of Planning

Planning ahead will be the key theme at the coming Angus Monitor Farm meeting on Thursday 20 July held at Mill of Inverarity farm in Forfar. 
 
The mixed unit is run by the Stodart family with a 200 hectare arable enterprise, as well as 200 suckler cows, 500 breeding ewes and 300 bought in store lambs.
 
Discussion on the day will include winter crops, under sowing barley with grass, pre tupping management and housing cattle, with the group assessing how best to approach those areas at Mill of Inverarity.
 
Monitor Farmer Rory Stodart explains: “For me this is really the start of a new farming year, it’s the ideal time to look forward and form a tailored plan for our arable and livestock enterprises over winter. 
 
“At the meeting we’ll share how we normally manage our systems and we’re keen to hear how and why other farmers in the area might do things differently. All the day’s discussions will feed into how we manage the farm this coming season.” 
 
On the arable side Sam Ruddell of Agrii will outline the Stodart’s current approach to winter crops, which include winter wheat and winter oilseed rape, and the group will discuss whether the farm is best suited to a high or low input system.  
 
The group will also look over the farm’s current trial of under sowing barley with grass which aims to produce good grass growth for sheep over winter, without reducing the yield of the spring barley. The family has experimented with five different grass varieties, all sown at different seed rates, and the group will consider which has been the most effective. 
 
Independent sheep expert John Vipond will be on hand to take the group through pre tupping management, with a practical exercise on condition scoring, and then a discussion on grazing management, preparing rams and optimum ewe-ram ratios.
 
Vet Tim Geraghty will tackle key winter issues of cattle health and pneumonia, while SAC Consulting’s Karen Stewart will take on the topic of preparing cattle for housing focusing on nutrition, creep feeding and weaning.
 
She says: “I’d really like to get the group thinking about grass quality, as often the quality can deteriorate earlier than farmers realise, and so it may be beneficial to start feeding them outside in some areas to ensure their weight gain remains on track.”
 
As with the arable areas, the group will discuss the Stodarts’ current practice and work with the family to develop a plan for cattle care over the winter. 
 
Mill of Inverarity is now part of the Monitor Farm Scotland initiative, managed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. 
 
The aim of the programme, which is funded by the Scottish Government, is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues. 
 
The meeting will be held at Mill of Inverarity Farm, Forfar, Angus, DD8 2JN from 10am to 2.30pm, with lunch will provided on farm. 
 
The event is free to attend but to assist with catering attendees should book a place by contacting Stacey Hamilton by phone (01569 762305) or email (stacey.hamilton@sac.co.uk).
 
For more information about the monitor farm programme click here or visit cereals.ahdb.org.uk.