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Stackyard News Jun 2010

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Northumberland Farmers Visit Farm of the Future

The recent Open Evening at Donkin Rigg near Cambo, Morpeth, the region’s newly announced Monitor Farm funded by Landskills North East, was attended by over 100 livestock farmers from across the North East.

Left to right - Robert Parker, Key Note
Speaker and Simon Bainbridge at the
Monitor Farm Open Evening

Hugh Fell

The project’s partners EBLEX, XL Vets, NNATA and EFFP were delighted with the support for the project. At the event, sponsored by Novartis Animal Health, attendees had chance to learn more about the Monitor Farm concept, already successful in other parts of the country, and what it could mean for the future of their own businesses.

The evening’s Keynote Speaker was farmer and QMS board member Robert Parker, whose 200 hectare Stranraer livestock farm was chosen as a Monitor Farm in 2004. The experience has made him a great advocate of the system as he believes they help local farmers adapt local conditions. Commenting he said: “A Monitor Farm stimulates discussion and the chance to get the most qualified answers to the big questions. It allows people to take their business forward hugely; my business achieved in 4 years what I would have achieved in 10. I found the Monitor Farm process improved my business’ profit and it was an ideal opportunity to benchmark myself against others for my own personal development.”

Simon Bainbridge introduced the farm and its history to date and explained how he currently operates Donkin Rigg. He commented: “The future of the farm depends on optimising the resources of the farm to maximise profits and simplify my operations. To achieve this, the farm needs to produce more to reduce our reliance on purchased inputs, such as improving forage volumes and quality.” Consequently during the project he will be working with some of the country’s best agricultural experts on increasing output and efficiency.

A tour of the Rothley East Shields and Donkin Rigg Farms allowed the visiting farmers to see the current livestock and resources at the farm and then all the visitors were invited to join a discussion on “What does the farmer need to focus on to improve his business?” and “How to maximise Suckler Cow Profits?”. They also had chance to see demonstrations of Drench and the effective use of Novatis, a 4th generation sheep wormer.

This was the first Open Evening for the Monitor Farm, regular events will take place throughout the three year project and livestock farmers are now being invited to attend a second meeting on Monday 5th July. Here, the focus of the discussion will be on two aspects: improving grassland and forage policies and planning suckler herd policy. The expert speakers will include David Long from Barenbrug UK and Dr Liz Genever from EBLEX on grassland and forage and Ian Cairns from the SAC on Suckler Cow Strategy. Simon Bainbridge will give a brief update on the Monitor Farm Project and will lead a discussion on the selection of Bulling Heifers. Joe Henry from Alnorthumbria Vets will also discuss livestock Quarantine Procedures.

The next Open Evening is Monday 5th July from 5.00pm. The event is free to attend but pre-booking is essential, to register please contact Hellen or Sandra on 0870 609 1840 / 01904 771213 or

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