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Young Farmer Focus: Andrew McGregor, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

Andrew McGregor, 23, farms 160 dairy cows, 300 breeding ewes and grows 40ha (100 acres) of arable crops alongside his dad. After studying agriculture at SRUC for two years, he travelled and worked abroad before returning to work on the family farm. He is also chairman of his local Young Farmers Club and has been part in the Tesco Future Farmer Foundation.

Winter: Mid-winter jobs certainly are not the most glamorous and this week has been testament to that.

 

I have spent a morning taking soil samples from across one of the three blocks of land on the farm as I try to get into a routine of testing the soil more regularly.

 

As I was doing it I could not help but wonder why beneficial processes such as soil sampling do not receive funding in a decoupled farm support system.

 

Another afternoon was spent washing out the calf shed with the pressure washer and then using a Peracetic acid solution to fully disinfect the floor and walls.

 

Improving the hygiene level on-farm and particularly with the calves has been very successful.

 

The incidence of scour in the calves has decreased by 85 per cent as a result of keeping the buckets used to feed the calves in a disinfectant solution and improved colostrum management.

 

I have also moved the electric fence we are using to graze lambs on turnips.

 

The crop has performed extremely well and we have had to buy more lambs to eat the volume of turnips that have grown.

 

The strong price of store lambs would suggest there is still plenty of feeding for lambs around in what has been a welcome but uncharacteristically dry winter in my part of Scotland.

 

Young Farmers: This week in the Young Farmers calendar we are dealing with the aftermath of our annual variety concert.

 

Having attracted 1,100 people over three nights and received extremely positive reviews we were satisfied it had been a success.

 

That was until almost all of our scenery was destroyed in an industrial lift in the theatre.There is always something.

 

Future: My short-term plan is to build on the strong foundations of the business as it is and get both the dairy herd and sheep flock performing within the top 25 per cent of comparable operations.

 

I am going to do this by aiming for the three key performance indicators I have set for both of these areas.

Once they are operating at this level I hope to grow them so they could both operate profitably as standalone businesses in their own right.

 

Looking more long-term, I plan to further diversify the business as I feel this is the best way to help me spread the risk of volatility in one area negatively affecting our business.

 

As we already have a diverse farm business, our break even cost per litre is low which has been helpful over the last three years when we saw our milk price drop 17p to a low of 15.5p.

 

With this in mind, I hope I can use the fact I have come into farming at what have been testing times as a force for good and be even better equipped to deal with challenges in the future.


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