A couple who set up their farm business only four years ago and are keen to drive it to a new level, have been announced today (November 21st 2016) as the new Nithsdale monitor farmers.
Clonhie Farm, near Penpont in Dumfries and Galloway, run by Andrew and Aileen Marchant, is the second of nine new monitor farms being established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
Clonhie Farm is 300 hectares, with 40 hectares of good hill rising to around 800ft and 260 hectares of upland grassland. The couple run the farm without any staff – though they have two willing helpers in their children William (6) and Anna (4).
Before the couple took over the tenancy of Clonhie in March 2012, Andrew Marchant was the manager of a dairy and beef unit in Castle Douglas. The aim, however, was always to run their own farm business.
The Marchants originally leased the 93 hectare Clonhie farm along with the farmhouse and outbuildings from Buccleuch Estates in 2012. Over the past four years they have taken on more land from Buccleuch, and earlier this year took on a neighbouring 134 hectare farm, also owned by the Estate.
The stock numbers on Clonhie have increased significantly since 2012 and show no sign of stopping. Andrew brought his own small flock of 20 ewes with him to Clonhie and bought 180 in-lamb ewes in spring 2012. Clonhie now has 900 breeding ewes and 230 ewe lambs and the couple hope to reach their target of 1,200 ewes by 2020.
They have also established a small herd of eight Luing cows and plan to build the herd up to about 40 in order to sell females and bulls in the future.
The Marchants are ready to embrace any change that the community group may suggest in order to improve the farm’s bottom line.
“So far we have focused on building the business and the number of sheep in particular. Now we need to focus on improving the technical efficiency of the whole farm business, so becoming monitor farmers is perfect timing for us. We also hope many more farmers will share the benefits of what we learn along the way,” said Mr Marchant.
The new three-year monitor farm programme is being run jointed by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. It is establishing a group of farms to serve as monitor farms to help improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of producers through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues.
The first meeting of the Nithsdale Monitor Farm is expected to take place early in the new year. Those interested in being involved in the project should contact Judith Hutchison, one of the project facilitators, on 07718 919055 or email Judith.firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.qmscotland.co.uk