A delegation of over 40 YFCU members recently enjoyed a two night study trip to Scotland, facilitated by the YFCU Agri and Rural Affairs Committee.
Robert McConaghy, chair of the YFCU Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee reports on the trip.
Robert said: “This year’s annual YFCU Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee saw 46 YFCU members visit a range of farming enterprises in Cumbria and the south of Scotland. The visit was to the Buccleuch estate, which is comprised of 225,000 acres over four estates. Current enterprises include beef suckler cows, store cattle, breeding ewes, 32,000 free range laying hens and a 2,120 acre arable enterprise. The farm manager Sion Williams is a 2016 Farmer’s Weekly Farm Manager of the Year finalist.
“The second day saw us visit the farm of Richard and John Geldard who were crowned the 2007 Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year award winners. Their farm is made up of 210ha of grassland, 1,000 Lleyn ewes, 120 pedigree Charolais ewes, 130 suckler cows, a beef finishing enterprise and 39,000 laying hens. After this we visited the dairy farm of Robert Craig who on his Cubrian farm has a 530 head New Zealand, grass based system, grazing 1,273ha of grassland and 12ha of cereals. Robert was the winner of the Farmer’s Weekly Dairy Farmer of the year 2014.
“The third day started with a visit to the Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries, a dairy research farm owned by the SRUC. It has 510 cows and 310 youngstock across two intensive dairy units, with one fed totally all home grown forage and cereals. As well as grass the farm also grows maize, wheat, red clover, spring beans and lucerne. The farm places emphasis on balancing animal welfare and care for the environment with efficient milk production. The farm is managed by Hugh McClymont, who was awarded the Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the year award 2013 for his management of the Crichton Royal Farm.
“The final visit of the trip was to Laggan Outdoors, the farm that was originally a beef and sheep farm but diversified into an outdoor activity centre, offering activities including a human catapult (it does what it says on the tin and I recommend looking it up online), archery, segway, zip wire, zorbing, clay pigeon shooting, a high wire course, dirt scooters, water balling and a cafe. As well as partaking in a selection of adrenaline boosting activities we were given a presentation on how the family developed such a successful diversification business.
“On behalf of all the members who travelled, I would like to thank Dunbia who supported this incredibly interesting, informative and productive study tour, as well as all of the farmers who were kind enough to accommodate us.”