Breeding the best beef at Morayshire Monitor Farm

The fundamentals of breeding and rearing top class livestock will be discussed at the coming Morayshire Monitor Farm meeting on 13 February. On the arable side there will also be a session on how best to manage new spring barley varieties this coming season.

The meeting will begin with a demonstration of the Moocall calving sensor which they have been trying out at Corskie Farm. This device, which was launched in 2014, uses the movement of the cow’s tail to predict when calving may be imminent to try and reduce calf mortality.

The demo will be followed by a discussion on getting ready for calving and lambing led by members of the management group and there will be a chance to have a look at the bulls Iain will soon be putting up for sale at Stirling Bull Sales.

After lunch the group will be joined by the Chief Executive of the British Simmental Society, Neil Shand, who will discuss estimated breeding values (EBVs) and how best to use them as a tool when buying cattle.

He says: “Buying a bull can have a significant financial impact on a commercial suckler herd, be it positive or negative, so farmers really have to think through their decisions. I will be advising them to judge firstly by sight, and then use the EBVs to help them select the right animal for their herd requirements.

“Farmers should use the EBVs to work out which bull will give you the traits you most need, for example fertility, milk or growth and remember that the breeding values are not about the bull its self but about its progeny.”

Ian Lindsay, an agronomist from Syngenta, will take the group through how best to manage some of the newer barley varieties. Many, such as Laureate, have characteristics which enable reduced fungicide inputs but growers tend to treat them as they would more established varieties such as Concerto.

Monitor farmer Iain Green says: “I’m really hoping these new varieties will give us the opportunity to reduce our inputs and save costs. It should be possible as they have different traits such as better disease resistance, and Ian will be able to guide us on how to make the most of them.”

The Morayshire Monitor is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) 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 Monitor Farm meeting will take place on Corskie Farm, Garmouth, IV32 7NN, on Tuesday 13 February from 11am until 3pm.  The event is free of charge but to assist with catering it would be appreciated if you can book a place by contacting Samantha Stewart by phone (01343 548 787) or email (samantha.stewart@sac.co.uk).

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

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice. Colin Ley - News reporter