Borders farmers to find out how grass could be greener for them

Stuart, Robert and Lesley Mitchell at Whitriggs Farm, near Denholm.
Stuart, Robert and Lesley Mitchell at Whitriggs Farm, near Denholm.

A farming family will aim to show how the grass can be greener for agricultural businesses like theirs at a get-together next week.

Plans to improve grassland management will be the focus of the next open meeting at Whitriggs Farm, near Denholm, next Wednesday.

With the bulk of calving over and lambing finished for this year at their monitor farm, the Mitchell family have turned their attention to their 442 hectares of mainly semi-permanent and permanent grassland.

With 140 beef shorthorn cross, Aberdeen Angus-cross suckler cows and 1,000 Lleyn ewes, Robert and Lesley Mitchell, along with son Stuart, are keen to see if they are able to finish more stock off grass and save money on bought-in feed.

At the meeting, independent adviser Rhidian Jones will lead a discussion about the benefits of improved grassland management and the various systems available to farmers with an interest in boosting their production from grass.

The Mitchells currently produce 1,600 tonnes of silage a year to help feed their stock over winter.

“We have an Italian ryegrass and red clover mix and are generally happy with the quality of the silage we produce,” said Robert.

“However, we are keen to look at how we can improve quality even further, so that we can reduce the need for bought in feed for our stock.”

Andrew Robinson, of Hawick Vets, will give a talk about this year’s lambing performance by the 1,000-strong Lleyn flock.

Whitriggs Farm is one of nine new monitor farms set up nationwide as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds to help farm businesses improve their productivity, profitability and sustainability.

The initiative is being funded by £1.25m secured from the Scottish Government and European Union.

More than 80 farmers attended the first meeting at Whitriggs Farm, held in February.

Next week’s meeting will start at the farm at 10am, with lunch being provided at the nearby Auld Cross Keys Inn, and should finish by 2.30pm.

All are welcome, and the event is free.

For catering purposes, anyone interested in going along is asked to call Stephen Young on 07502 339613 or email stephen.young@saos.coop