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New Monitor farm for North Ayrshire Announced

A farm run by a young and enthusiastic farmer with high hopes for the future of the family business has been announced today (December 2 2016) as the new North Ayrshire monitor farm.

Girtridge Farm near Dundonald in Ayrshire, run by 27-year-old John Howie, is the fourth of nine new monitor farms being established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.

The farm business is a partnership involving John, his mother Margaret and his sister Mary. The family moved to Girtridge in 2000 and in 2010 John took over the day-to-day management of the farm, with family support.

The 116-hectare farm sits in an elevated position just outside Dundonald, and the family also own a further 35 hectares of grazing land nearby.

The main farm enterprise is buying in store cattle and finishing them for sale direct to local abattoirs but the family also have a herd of 10 suckler cows. The farm also runs 140 cross ewes producing Suffolk and Texel prime lambs that are mainly sold through nearby Ayr market. Everything grown on the farm is used on-farm including 56 hectares of silage and hay and 28 hectares of spring barley.

The Howies feel fortunate that Girtridge is very versatile. This means they are not restricted to one type of farming policy and they are happy to consider a future change in direction as a result of the monitor farm process.

Mr Howie, who studied accountancy at Strathclyde University, is keen to start recording production data on the farm and to benchmark and improve the efficiency of the business with the help of other local farmers.

“Ultimately I would like to grow the business and expand the farm as efficiently as possible, maximising profit and reducing costs,” said Mr Howie.

He added: “I am really looking forward to learning from other farmers and looking at what we could do at Girtridge to strengthen our business. I think it will be a huge learning curve, but one that I will benefit from, as well as the local farmers who get involved.” 

Mr Howie is an active member of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Club (SAYFC) and has been a past chairman of  Ayrshire district as well as National Member of the Year in 2012. He has found being in the SAYFC very valuable and hopes that younger farmers will get involved with the monitor farm programme.

The new three-year monitor farm programme is being run jointly by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. It is establishing a group of farms to serve as monitor farms to help improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of producers through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues.

The new North Ayrshire Monitor Farm plans to hold its first meeting in the new year. Those interested in getting involved should contact the project facilitators, Raymond Crerar and Carol-Anne Warnock, SAC Consulting Ayr on 01292 525148, or email FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

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