New dairy monitor farms in Scotland

Published 3 March 10

New dairy monitor farms in Scotland

DairyCo and QMS have announced the selection of two new dairy monitor farms, covering South West Scotland and Central Scotland. 

Two inspiring young dairy farmers have been selected. William Fleming of Hillhead, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire is the new dairy monitor farm for South West Scotland, and Sandy Milne of Carcary Farms, Brechin, Angus is the farm selected to represent Central/North Scotland.

The farms have been selected by a panel of dairy farmers and industry members because they are representative of their areas, and because each has issues highly relevant in today's dairy industry.

The aim of the new monitor farms is to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of the farming businesses, allowing others in the community groups to be actively involved. 

Activities will include field visits, monitoring of actions, collation and analysis of data, on-farm demonstrations and the use of specialist speakers in all relevant areas of the dairy industry.  By sharing information and creative experiences the monitor farmers will prompt discussion to help them improve on their existing skills, or the development of new skills and also help them gain a greater enjoyment and quality of life from dairying.

The launch dates for the dairy monitor farms are as follows:

Central Scotland

Thursday 4 March 2010, 11am - 2pm.
East Pitforthie, Brechin, Angus, DD9 7PH.

South West Scotland
Wednesday 24 March 2010, 11am - 2pm.
Hillhead, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, DG11 3NQ.

What activities will take place?

Each monitor farm will aim to have one open day and 4-6 group meetings annually, over a three year period.  The open days will allow dairy farmers from all over Scotland to visit the monitor farms and follow their progress throughout the three years. 

Discussion group meetings will also take place and will target specific areas of interest found either on the monitor farm or that are highly relevant to the area, and will stimulate working together to find the best way of dealing with such issues.  During this period it is hoped that the monitor farms and those who attend the group and open meetings can help each other improve throughout the project with the help of a DairyCo facilitator.

The farms:

The Fleming family has been dairying at Hillhead, Kirkpatrick Fleming since November 2002; prior to this the family farmed at High Boreland, Lesmahagow.

The farm is run in partnership with Willie and his mother and father, Robert and Margaret Fleming.  Willie Fleming explains: "At the moment we're at a point where we're putting in a huge investment to secure our future and give us a platform from which we can expand the business, if the opportunity presents itself.  We are pleased to be chosen as the monitor farm and hope that in the next three years we and other farmers will gain useful information and ideas from what we're doing.

"Problems we hope to overcome and improve on include cow health and longevity, focusing mainly on lameness and fertility.  Also to improve soil condition, quality of forage crops grown and how best to utilise the land available.  We hope that the construction of the new unit will help us to improve cow management, being a more comfortable environment for both the animals and ourselves. Through improving these areas we hope to improve on the overall efficiency of the farm, make the job even more enjoyable and also to increase our profit margin! 

"Why we wanted to be a monitor farm........tough question? To get my picture in the paper!  I thought it would be good for us, make us keep a closer eye on things and I think we'll gain a lot from the information we'll get through DairyCo.  Hopefully the visits will be beneficial as everyone can tell us where we're going right or wrong. Other farmers will hopefully be able to tell us things they've done in the past that have or haven't worked, they should also benefit from coming here and seeing how were expanding our family farm.

Throughout the three years of being a monitor farm it is hoped that productivity will be improved by looking at all areas of the farm, the main key performance indicators (KPIs) will include longevity (fertility, lameness), soil and grass management, feed efficiency, and health and welfare.  Many of the KPIs will directly affect each other.

Sandy Milne of Carcary Farms runs 340 pedigree Holstein herd, with followers in Brechin, Angus. 

It is a family run enterprise with everyone actively involved, and a good working relationship between Mr Milne and all those involved in the daily activities.  Throughout the Monitor Farm project DairyCo will work with the Milne's nutritionalist Karen Stewart from East Coast Viners and local vet Graeme Richardson from Thrums veterinary practice.  The farm also includes an arable enterprise typical of the area growing barley and wheat. 

Mr Milne has shown serious commitment to his business, investing heavily over the past six years and dramatically altering the set-up of the main dairy unit at East Pitfurthie.  Improvements include: cubicle housing for milking cows, a flush wash slurry system and slurry separator, and the use of automatic feeders in the calf house.  He aims to help drive good ideas through interaction with others, in order to benefit his business and others in the dairying industry. 

Throughout the three years of being a monitor farm it is hoped that productivity will be improved by looking at all areas of the farm, the main key performance indicators (KPIs) will include fertility, genetics, dry cow and heifer management, calf rearing, feed efficiency, health and welfare.  Many of the KPIs will directly affect each other.

For further information:

Heather Wildman
Extension Officer, Scotland.
A:         DairyCo (AHDB) Overcairn, New Cumnock, Ayrshire, KA18 4NW
M:         07876706391

Sophie Kinnear
Extension Officer, Scotland.
A:         DairyCo (AHDB) Glasserton Manse, Whithorn, Newton Sewart, DG8 8LU
M:        07717500877

DairyCo would like to thank all those involved in the selection process and a special thanks to all of the applicants for the dairy monitor farm.  Those who were not successful are encouraged to attend open days and group meetings as there is still great potential to identify and improve areas of your dairy farms in order to become more profitable, productive and sustainable in the ever challenging UK dairy industry.