Sutherland Monitor Farm Focuses on Herd Fertility

Farmers and crofters are invited to the free meeting of the Sutherland Monitor Farm on Thursday 8 June, where the focus will be on herd fertility.  
At the meeting, which starts at 11am, hosts Jason and Victoria Ballantyne from Clynelish Farm, Brora, will share their herd’s latest performance figures of their herd. There will also be a discussion on the major fertility issues that suckler herds may face, led by vet Kenny Johnston of Johnston & Farrell Veterinary Surgery. A short farm tour will also take place.
Clynelish Farm is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses. 
The Ballantynes run 80 suckler cows, which are a mainly Simmental cross native breeds. Calves are born outside in May, weaned in November at five or six months old and sold as stores at Thainstone at 10 months old. 
With an eye on continuous improvement, the Sutherland monitor farm hosts are keen to hear ideas about how they can improve the performance of their herd. 
“I think it is really important to us as farmers to challenge ourselves and look at our businesses and the way we do things. Hopefully by doing this, we can go on to make changes which will improve our bottom line,” said Jason Ballantyne.
Weaning methods, wintering costs and gains from grass will also be explored at the meeting and Caithness farmer Danny Miller of Bilbster Farm, Watten will share his experiences in these areas before leading a discussion with local farmers who attend. 
Mr Miller is a member of the management group and benchmarking group for the monitor farm. He farms two units totalling 740 hectares plus 1,000 hectares of rented hill on which he runs 500 spring-calving Aberdeen-Angus cross cows. He measures as much as possible and is an advocate of benchmarking and making the most from grass. He is also constantly looking for ways to improve his herd’s performance and reduce fixed costs where he can.  
To book your attendance (and lunch!) at the meeting at Clynelish on Thursday 8 June please contact Willie Budge or Cat MacGregor, the project facilitators at SAC Consulting Thurso on 01847 892602 option 2, or email
For more information about the monitor farm programme click here