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In Your Field: Charles Bruce - 'It's been the the biggest contrast in weather I've ever witnessed'

Charles Bruce farms near Banff, Aberdeenshire, and has 98 hectares (242 acres) of owned land, 76ha (188 acres) of malting barley which is contract farmed, and rented seasonal grazings extending to 40ha (99 acres). Running an 80-cow fold of pedigree Highland cattle, these are used to supply an on-farm butchery business and his Bogside Farm Shop. There is a commercial ewe flock of about 230-head and a trout fishery is also run as part of the business.

THE longest day has gone and almost half the year has passed, and it has been possible the biggest contrast in weather through these recent months that I have ever witnessed in my 60 years living in the north east of Scotland.

 

The first three months consisted of almost constant rain, cold temperatures and high winds, followed by the driest April, May and June. Obviously, the consequences of this is going to manifest in some of the worst spring barley crops we have seen in our area.

 

There are, of course, notable exceptions with the earliest sown crops and crops sown after grass leys, or in fields which were heavily mucked prior to sowing, bucking the trends of being short and open. Farmers in our area are already talking about how big a shortage there will be of straw and unless we get some significant rainfall shortly, quantities of silage will not match demand for winter feeding.

 

This all arises on the back of surpluses all being used up in spring so there is virtually no carryover of bedding or feeding.

 

Life, however, is not all doom and gloom, with prime sheep prices being remarkably high, especially feeding ewes, and prime cattle prices are also pretty stable. Stability going forward is always the farmer’s friend as huge swings in prices never do any good.

 

The Brexit negotiations seem to be rumbling on and you would hope some firm decisions are made sooner rather than later so we know where we will stand and can plan accordingly.

 

I know it is wishing for the impossible but I am sure it would be a source of great happiness for us as farmers to see the various political parties working together for the benefit of the whole nation rather than trying to score cheap political points.

 

Our Scottish leader seems to feel that Brexit offers her a further opportunity for another independence referendum; if there is to be another, one of the rules which should be put in place is that there should be no further referendums regarding independence for the next 30 years.

 

This week’s Royal Highland Show is the main shop window for Scottish agriculture and is a great opportunity to allow the knowledge of non-farming visitors to be expanded. The livestock entries at the show represent the top animals of the various breeds of sheep, beef and dairy cattle and it is always a pleasure to see animals of such quality. No better advert could be used to help Scotland’s livestock industry.

 

We can only hope that the dry weather lasts for the duration of the show and that everyone enjoys everything the show has to offer.


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