PEEBLESSHIRE’S first monitor farmers, Kate and Ed Rowell ,will host their first meeting at Hundleshope Farm next week.
A qualified vet, Mrs Rowell said she and her husband were inspired to get involved with the monitor farm programme when they heard former monitor farmer, Lilliesleaf’s Rob Livesey, speaking at a Peeblesshire Discussion Society meeting.
“It sounded a really positive opportunity. As a vet you have to do continuous professional development but in farming that doesn’t exist. Getting involved in the monitor farm project is a step in that direction, though, and hopefully it will give us an opportunity to run our business better. We would like to make the farm as profitable as we can,” said Mrs Rowell.
Those interested will meet at 10.30am when the Rowells will show their farm and talk about what they do before going to Manor Hall to discuss what the group will do next.
“We are quite happy to be as open as possible and hopefully that will inspire others to share hints and tips about how they do things. I really feel, as an industry, we have to stick together, rather than have farmers fighting amongst themselves, in the face of the big supermarkets, “ said Mrs Rowell.
Haystoun Estate tenants, she and Ed run 75 suckler cows and 750 ewes in partnership with Mrs Rowell’s parents, Ann and John Brown, on the 1,800-acre property, which extends to 2,200 feet above sea level, three miles south of Peebles. Mrs Rowell is the fifth generation to have farmed on the estate where her family have been tenants for almost 150 years.
The partnership’s spring-calving suckler herd of Limousin, British Blue and Simmental cross cows are put to a Charolais bull, producing calves that are sold as stores through Lawrie & Symington at Lanark.
Their 400 Scotch Mule and Texel cross ewes produce fat lambs and 350 Blackface ewes breed replacement ewe lambs and wethers. The Rowells also grow around 60 acres of spring barley to feed stock.
The couple hopes to improve the performance of their hill sheep flock during their three years as monitor farmers.
“We have a very poor hill and we’d be open to any ideas to increase the productivity of sheep. Ed’s also keen to look at improving the soil structure of the grassland,” said Mrs Rowell.
The Rowells are open to new ideas and have tried growing chicory. “We don’t have figures to prove it yet but it definitely appears to be helping reduce the worm burden,” said Mrs Rowell.
“We also enjoy comparing the performance of tups I’ve chosen using EBV (estimated breeding value) figures with those Ed has selected by eye!”
Technical projects manager with Quality Meat Scotland, which supports the monitor farm programme, Ian MacDougall said: “Kate and Ed’s enthusiasm and commitment make them a very welcome addition to the excellent network of monitor farms around Scotland. The opportunities to improve the efficiency and performance of their farm business uncovered over the next three years will be shared, not only with the community group of farmers who attend meetings at Hundleshope, but with farmers throughout Scotland.”
Facilitators Chris McDonald and Jennifer Brown of SAC Consulting, a division of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, have been appointed to support the Peeblesshire monitor farm.
Anyone wanting to attend the first meeting on Thursday (November 7) should contact Chris McDonald, 0131 535 3430, firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer Brown on 01835 823322 at email@example.com