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North Ayrshire Monitor Farm Focuses on Meeting Livestock Spec

The importance of ensuring finished livestock meet market specifications will be the main topic for discussion at the next meeting of the North Ayrshire Monitor farm on Wednesday 20 September.

The evening meeting, which will be held at Girtridge Farm, Dundonald, KA2 9BX, will begin at 7pm with a barbecue serving Scotch Beef burgers, courtesy of A K Stoddart Ltd.

The focus will be a live assessment of both cattle and sheep with two main speakers - Jim Gibb from processor AK Stoddart Ltd and Colin Mair of prime cattle and lamb marketing co-operative, Farmstock Scotland.

Host monitor farmer, John Howie, runs the 140-hectare Girtridge Farm in partnership with his mother Margaret and his sister Mary. They also own an additional 35 hectares of grazing nearby.

As well as the 200 bought-in cattle that they finish, the Howies run their own small suckler herd and 140 breeding ewes.

He said: “To optimise the potential of our livestock whilst targeting market specification is a huge challenge that can have massive financial implications. With the added element of being 100% grass fed this summer it has been a steep learning curve but we are very pleased with the results!"

At the meeting next week, Mr Gibb from AK Stoddart will lead a discussion on cattle assessment and grading and Mr Mair from Farmstock Scotland will discuss lamb assessment and marketing. Those present will then have an opportunity to try their hand at grading live cattle and prime lambs from Girtridge. A follow up visit to AK Stoddart has been arranged over the next couple of weeks for interested members of the community group so that they can see the carcases of the cattle that they graded at the meeting.

Also at the meeting on 20 September, John Howie will give an update on what has been happening at the farm since the last meeting in June. He will also share the plans for a new cattle handling system for Girtridge, the design of which was discussed at the May meeting, and seek feedback on the plans from those attending.

The North Ayrshire 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.

To book your Scotch Beef burger and confirm your attendance at the next North Ayrshire Monitor farm meeting please contact facilitators Raymond Crerar and Carol-Anne Warnock, SAC Consulting Ayr on 01292 525252, or email FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

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