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Focus on Cattle Health and Nutrition at North Ayrshire Monitor Farm Meeting

Farmers attending the next meeting of the North Ayrshire Monitor Farm will be given an insight into the management of the 300-head beef finishing enterprise run by Craig Bryson.

Mr Bryson, who is chairman of the monitor farm management group, will host the meeting on Friday 1 December on his own Gowanbank Farm at Newmilns and will give an overview of the priorities in the cattle business which he runs with his family.

The Brysons, who run Gowanbank and neighbouring Townhead farm, buy in store cattle at around six months old. The cattle are finished on a silage-based ration which includes home-grown crimped grains, minerals, distillers’ dark grains and half a kilo of straw per head, delivered through a Total Mixed Ration (TMR).

Finished cattle are supplied on a weekly basis to Stoddarts in Ayr at around 280-350kg deadweight, and at mainly R4L grades.

North Ayrshire monitor farmer John Howie, from Girtridge Farm, finished 220 cattle last year and is keen to see if he can learn from the Brysons’ management to improve his current system.

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Craig’s farm and seeing his finishing enterprise,” he said.

“Craig has successfully managed to reduce his feed costs by improving his silage quality over the last few years.  I’m sure, along with the other farmers who attend the meeting, I will learn a few things that we might be able to put into practice on our own farm.”

At the meeting, which is free and open to all farmers, independent nutritionist Robert Gilchrist will lead a session on cattle rationing and the importance of meeting nutritional requirements of housed cattle over the winter.

The cattle at Gowanbank and Girtridge are both housed over winter and adequate ventilation in buildings is vital in order to minimise respiratory problems. Jamie Robertson of Livestock Management Systems Ltd recently visited Girtridge to assess the buildings which house John Howie’s cattle and his report conclusions and recommendations will be will shared at the meeting. SAC Consulting vet Helen Carty who also attend the meeting and review the most common cattle respiratory diseases and methods of control. 

The North Ayrshire Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across 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 meeting on 1 December at Gowanbank Farm, Newmilns, KA16 9LB will begin at 10.30am. Lunch will be provided and the meeting is expected to finish by 3pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along on 1 December should confirm attendance by calling 01292 525252 or emailing FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

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