Monitor farm family see positive changes

SBBN Andrew, Jock and Stuart Bryce at the LAMMA awards
SBBN Andrew, Jock and Stuart Bryce at the LAMMA awards

The many business improvements a Borders farming family have made during their term as Monitor Farmers were highlighted at their final meeting this week.

Changes to the 1,800 acre Hundleshope Farm near Peebles have been significant over the past three years and Ed and Kate Rowell say they have made a difference to the financial performance and efficiency of the farm.

One example came about following a meeting at which the Rowells were challenged to grow better quality silage and they have achieved this, with their silage analysing at 11.9 ME last year. As a result, their in-lamb Mule ewes are now fed a diet of silage with a sprinkling of straight soya right up to lambing.

Ed Rowell said: “Soya is expensive but with a requirement of only about 100g per day, feeding 450 ewes only cost us £750 in soya with the rest of their nutritional needs coming from the silage.”

This has seen a reduction in work-load, saving time, and doing away with the need for a student at lambing time. A side-effect of such good silage is that yearling calves have been 65kg per head heavier on average at sale time.

A full discussion at one of the meetings led to the Rowells deciding to buy in quality Simmental cross heifers as replacements instead of pail-fed calves. They have been delighted with the first batch which all calved down well.

One of the problems at Hundleshope was the poor quality heather hill which saw the 350 Blackface ewes regularly scanning only 75% in lamb. The Rowells decided to move from using feed blocks to ewe rolls three weeks before the tups go out, and wean their lambs earlier. This resulted in a scanning percentage in 2015 of 122% and meant that, for the first time, they had enough ewe lambs to select the best as replacements instead of having to purchase females.