Lochaber Monitor Farm Meeting to Focus on Ewe Management
Farmers and crofters are invited to a free meeting, focusing on the management of pregnant ewes, at the Lochaber monitor farm, Strone, near Banavie on Thursday 9th March.
Host farmers Chris Cameron and his father Malcolm are due to start outdoor lambing their flock of 500 Cheviot ewes in April.
At the meeting next Thursday, which begins at 11am, Chris Cameron will outline the sheep policy at Strone and his hopes for this year’s lambing.
“Our ewes scanned at an average of 126% last year, which we are quite happy with but we are always looking for ways to improve things. We are scanning later this week so will hopefully have some positive figures to share with the group at our meeting next week,” said Chris Cameron.
Ensuring pregnant ewes receive the right nutrition is something the Camerons view as very important and they are keen to ensure their flock is in the correct condition in the run-up to lambing.
At the meeting, independent sheep specialist Dr John Vipond will explain that maintaining condition score and being aware of the ewe’s increasing nutritional requirements during late pregnancy are important for production efficiency and, therefore, profitability.
Ewen Campbell, farm manager for SRUC’s Hill and Mountain Research Centre based at Kirkton and Auchtertyre, will demonstrate some condition scoring techniques at the meeting highlighting how farmers can use these to assess whether their ewes are on target to produce strong lambs through to weaning.
Kenny Lang from Crown vets in Fort William will give an overview of what to include in a flock health plan and flag up the sheep health problems farmers should be aware of which could affect lamb survival.
At the launch meeting in January, Chris and Malcolm Cameron explained that, due to a serious predation issue around Strone, they took the decision in 2010 to move all of their ewes and lambs to summer them on grazing land near Inverness.
There are significant costs associated with doing this and this is set to be a focus of discussion at the meeting when facilitator Niall Campbell, from SAC Consulting Oban, will share financial and performance data from Strone with the group.
“We are really looking forward to getting some guidance from John Vipond, Ewen Campbell and our vet Kenny Lang about how we can ensure we get the best from our ewes at what is a critical time of year in the production cycle,” said Malcolm Cameron.
“The information they share, will help us and other farmers in the area looking to improve their flocks’ efficiency.”
The Lochaber 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 is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
Strone farm will be hosting regular meetings over the next three years as the Lochaber Monitor Farm, which will focus on technical and financial challenges that their business, and many other local farming businesses, face.
The Lochaber Monitor Farm meetings are open and free for all farmers 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 3.30pm
To book your attendance (and lunch!) please contact Niall Campbell or Morven MacArthur on 01631 563093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.qmscotland.co.uk or cereals.ahdb.org.uk.