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Cattle Management in Spotlight at Nithsdale Monitor Farm meeting

Robert Osborne from Castlehill Farm, Durisdeer will host Nithsdale Monitor farm meeting on 7 Dec 2017

Farmers attending the next meeting of the Nithsdale Monitor Farm will be given an insight into the management of the 250 breeding cows run by Robert Osborne on his tenanted farm near Thornhill.

Mr Osborne, who will host the meeting at Castlehill Farm, Durisdeer, is a member of Nithsdale monitor farm management group. At the meeting on Thursday 7 December, he will give an overview of the priorities of the cattle business which he runs with his wife Laura and their children.

Castlehill is around 800 hectares and carries a closed herd of 250 Aberdeen-Angus cross and Simmental cross suckler cows, with 75% calving in the spring and the rest calving in the autumn. The calves are sold store at about a year old. Mr Osborne joined the Premium Cattle Health Scheme three years ago, because he was concerned about health issues in his herd.

The upland farm comprises over 525 hectares of hill, 44 hectares of semi-permanent grassland and 190 hectares of intensive grassland. The Osbornes also grow 40 hectares of cereals to help feed their stock through the winter months.

At the meeting, which is free to attend and starts at Castlehill at 11am, Mr Osborne will talk about his herd management practices including housing and bedding choices, diets for different categories of cattle and share his forage results for this year.

He will be joined by Alisdair Padkin from Nithsdale vets who will give an overview of some of the health problems cattle farmers may see in their animals, at this time of the year. He will also talk about the benefits of joining a cattle health scheme.

Nithsdale monitor farmer Andrew Marchant currently has 20 Luing cows and is keen to see if he can learn from Roberts’ management to improve his current system.

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Robert’s farm and learning about his herd management,” he said.

“Robert is a highly regarded member of the local farming community and I am sure that, along with the other farmers who attend the meeting, I will learn a few things from him that I might be able to put into practice at Clonhie.”

The group will then move to nearby Durisdeer Hall for lunch, following which monitor farmer Andrew Marchant will give an update from Clonhie.

SAC Consulting Beef and Sheep Specialist Gavin Hill will then discuss the challenges of the 2017 summer and its implications for cow body condition scores and forage analyses.

He will be joined by Will Case, who has diversified and developed his traditional livestock farm in Cumbria to create a stronger and more sustainable business which now includes a dairy enterprise.

The Nithsdale 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.

Monitor farm meetings are open and free for all farmers to attend. The meeting on Thursday 7 December will begin at 11am at Castlehill Farm meeting and finish at 3.30pm, with lunch provided.

To book your place please contact Judith Hutchison, by 12 noon on Monday 4 December on 07718 919055 or email judith.agridigm@icloud.com .

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk.