The benefits of effective animal health planning will be highlighted at a series of free meetings for livestock farmers being held around Scotland over the winter months.

The events, which are being organised by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), are open to QMS Assurance Scheme members and will discuss how effective health plans can help improve farm efficiency. The meetings will also explain the animal health planning requirements for farm assessments.

The first workshop will be held at Caledonian Market in Stirling on Wednesday, December 5, and the second will be held in Dingwall Market on Thursday, December 6.

The workshops will be led by Jackie Burgess, QMS Brands Integrity Advisor, who is looking forward to emphasising the importance of health planning and the implications that it can have on a farm’s business.

She said: “Improving animal health planning will not only improve livestock health and welfare but can also improve farm efficiency and the bottom line of a business.

“These events should prove valuable and timely for livestock farmers as they plan for the year ahead.”

Ms Burgess will be joined by a farm assurance assessor at each of the events, who will be available to answer any health planning or assurance related queries from the assured farmers who attend.

The workshops will also provide updates on the QMS Cattle and Sheep assurance scheme for the forthcoming year, including the addition of an alternate bedding material in light of straw shortages and also guidance on changes to waste control.

Places for these events are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Each workshop will begin at 11am and should finish at approximately 1.30pm. Lunch will be provided.

To book your place (and lunch) for any of the workshops or for further information please contact QMS on 0131 510 7920 or email

Glenkiln meeting to focus on maximising suckler cow performance

The next Nithsdale Monitor Farm meeting on Thursday, November 29, will focus on how to get the most from suckler beef production and will be held at Glenkiln Estate, Crocketford, by kind permission of Sir Henry Keswick.

The meeting will be held at Nethertown Farm, Shawhead, DG2 9SS, one of the units on the 2400-hectare estate, where John Wildman, farm manager at Glenkiln, will explain how he and his team manage the 600 breeding cows and 3000 ewes.

The cows at Glenkiln are a mixture of Shorthorns, Simmentals and Aberdeen-Angus crosses, which are put to either an Angus, Salers or Charolais bull. Two thirds calve in the spring with the remainder calving in late summer and cows are housed from late October.

“Operating a closed herd policy, retaining heifers for replacements, we sell all cattle as stores,” said Mr Wildman, “and, like every beef farmer, we are constantly trying to improve our genetics to breed a more sustainable suckler cow.”

The estate, which is split by the A75, has recently and continues to undergo some modernisation of infrastructure. This investment has improved the facilities both for the cattle and those working with them and there will be an opportunity to view them on the 29 November.

Orkney beef farmer Steven Sandison will also attend the meeting and explain what he sees as the important opportunities to deliver profits in beef production. He will also share the findings of the Nuffield scholarship he completed in 2015 which looked at benchmarking targets for suckler herds.

Finally, in preparation for spring calving, Alistair Padkin from Nithsdale Veterinary Surgeons will outline how farmers can reduce the incidence of three major health challenges - pneumonia, coccidiosis and cryptosporidiosis in their young stock next year.

Andrew and Aileen Marchant who farm at nearby Clonhie, the Nithsdale Monitor farm, have a small herd of Luing cattle and are keen to hear if they can learn anything from the speakers at the next meeting.

“It doesn’t matter if you have six or 600 cows, I think there is a real opportunity to improve your beef herd, whether that be the genetics, the management or the health status of the animals,” said Mr Marchant.

The Nithsdale monitor farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. The aim of the programme, which is funded by Scottish Government, is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting at Glenkiln Farms on Thursday, November 29, will begin at 10am, end at 3pm and will include lunch.

To book your place please contact facilitator Judith Hutchison on 07718 919055 or email

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit