Accessibility

Shetland Monitor Farm Meetings to Focus on Cattle and Sheep Marketing Options

The first Shetland Monitor farm meeting of 2018 will focus on finishing cattle and sheep for markets both on and off Shetland.

The meeting will be held in two parts, with the first part on Sunday 14th January looking at the finishing process on farm. This will be held at Kergord Farm, courtesy of GB & AM Anderson.

The Andersons buy in 100-150 mainly continental cross cattle each year from farms across Shetland and occasionally Orkney, and finish them for the local market on Shetland. They also have a breeding flock of 750 cross ewes and 300 Shetland ewes. The majority of their lambs are sold to farms outwith Shetland for finishing, however they also finish some of their own lambs each year for the local market.

At the meeting, Poppy Frater, Sheep Specialist with SAC Consulting, part of SRUC, will give a presentation on lamb finishing rations and Derek Hanton from SAC Consulting will lead discussion on finishing cattle. Around an hour will be spent on the farm assessing cattle which are at a variety of stages in the finishing process.

The group will then move to Shetland Mart at Lerwick where Lauraine Manson, manager of the Shetland abattoir, will give an overview of what local markets require in terms of grades and specification.

Local farmers and crofters will be able to see a selection of live lambs of different ages and breeds and members of the group will have an opportunity to grade lambs themselves prior to slaughter.

To provide a contrast to the continental cross cattle seen at Kergord, Robert Ramsay of South Collafirth, Ollaberry has kindly agreed to bring in two or three Shetland cattle that are nearing slaughter condition for members of the group to see and discuss. Lunch will be provided and the meeting will finish at 3pm.

The second part of the meeting, which takes place on the evening of Monday 15th January, will offer an opportunity for local farmers and crofters to visit the abattoir based at Shetland Mart.

Those who come along will be able to see the same lambs that were graded live, the day before, hanging on the hook in the chill. It is hoped to have various types of lambs available, from pure Shetland lambs to cross lambs from terminal sires such as Texels and Suffolks so that their carcases can be compared. Depending on what was killed the previous week there may also be cattle carcases in the chill to inspect and discuss.

Most of the youngstock from the monitor farm run by the Budge family are sold at a year old as store calves, but in 2017, encouraged by the monitor farm community group, they decided to finish around 15 head of cattle.

“Up until this year, our calves have usually been sold at Lerwick auction market at a year old and a target weight of 500kg. However, this summer we finished 15 of our calves, which were sold to our local butcher at an approximate deadweight of 350kg,” said Aimee Budge.

Kirsty Budge added: “At the moment we sell most of our lambs as stores but we also finish some which are sold at Aberdeen and Northern Marts.

“This two-part meeting will give us, and everyone who attends, a great insight into different potential marketing opportunities as well as practical guidance on grading and achieving target specifications.”

The Shetland 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 Shetland Monitor Farm meeting is open and free for all farmers and crofters to attend, though booking is essential for this meeting.

If you would like to attend one, or both parts of the meeting, please contact the project facilitator Graham Fraser, SAC Consulting Lerwick on 01595 693520 by Wednesday 10 January, or email frbslerwick@sac.co.uk

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