Shetland Monitor Farm Focuses on Grass Management

The potential to improve grass management and optimise lamb growth rates will be the main points of discussion at the next Shetland Monitor Farm meeting on Saturday 17 June.
At the meeting, which starts at Bigton Hall at 11am, host farmers Kirsty and Aimee Budge from Bigton farm will give an update on their activities since April, including a report on their lambing and calving this year.
Bigton has also, for the first time, introduced rotational grazing for their 70 spring suckler cows and have divided a 4.8 hectare field into four paddocks using electric fencing. The benefits of managing grassland in this way will be discussed at the next meeting and those who attend will be able to see the paddock grazing in action. 
Options to improve lamb growth rates will also be discussed at the meeting. For the first time this year feed blocks with a high level of digestible undegradable protein (DUP), have been placed on St Ninian’s Isle, where the ewes and lambs graze throughout the summer. It is hoped that the additional supply of protein, which is not degraded as it passes through their rumen, will help boost milk production in the ewes, and subsequent lamb growth. 
While the ewes on the Isle have access to the blocks, a second group of ewes and lambs have been moved to similar grazing on the family’s other farm, Toab, and will not have access to these blocks. The weights of the lambs from both groups of ewes will be recorded regularly throughout the summer to see if the there is a difference in the lambs’ growth rates.
The Budges are keen to try and improve the control of weeds on their grassland and barley at Bigton and at the meeting the group will be joined by Colin Bowers from Dow Agrosciences Ltd who will explain the various weed control options. 
Those who attend will have an opportunity to put forward their ideas about the monitor farm’s future weed control, silage and rotational grazing plans. 
The Shetland 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, with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
Bigton farm will be hosting regular meetings over the next three years and focus on the technical and financial challenges faced by their business, and many other local farmers and crofters in Shetland.
The Shetland Monitor Farm meetings are open and free for all farmers and crofters to attend.  Attendees will also have an input into topics covered, speakers invited to meetings and visits to other enterprises and businesses.  Lunch will be provided and the meeting will finish at 3pm.
To book your attendance (and lunch!) please contact the project facilitator Graham Fraser, SAC Consulting Lerwick on 01595 693520 by Monday 12 June, or email  
For more information about the monitor farm programme click here