Sir, – I read your article on the Beef 'Inefficiency' Scheme with interest, but would like to dig a bit deeper.

I have dutifully submitted a mass of detail – calving, weighing, disposals, etc. Last year, a delightful person came to conduct a carbon audit. I handed her typed answers to all the points raised in the warning questionnaire.

Amongst other things we discussed was clover. Clover flourishes on our hill farm and we always include clover in the grass mix when reseeding fields. I explained that were currently having a drive to eradicate docks in a few areas of some fields.

Treatment meant that we had, unfortunately, killed off the clover in those areas, but that once we had won the docks battle we would drill clover back into those areas. My subsequent 'inspection report' made just one statement: "You should pay more attention to clover"!

I also attended one of the compulsory seminars. I watched video clips of tractors driving round flat fields making silage. We haven't got any flat fields.

I studied pictures, graphs, statistics about silage clamps. We have nowhere flat to put a silage clamp and, besides, our cattle are out-wintered.

In a rash moment, I asked about hay and was kicked firmly into touch: no-one of worth makes hay nowadays. During last year's splendid summer, we made hundreds of bales of excellent hay, which our cows are currently enjoying.

We do make silage, but it has to be wrapped in plastic bales and is more expensive. No hill farmer needs me to explain the difficulties of wrapping silage on steep fields.

Having spent a couple of hours hearing that the key to the production of good beef cattle is the quality of clamped silage, I approached one of the speakers and quietly asked why he had not mentioned the quality of the beasts being fed as important factor in producing high-quality beef. I was dismissed like a worthless schoolboy – "Quality of stock is of little importance," I was told.

Showing considerable (and surprising!) restraint, I did not point out that several years of top prizes and top prices at UA's large sale of spring calves suggested that perhaps we were not doing everything wrong. I left!

Clearly, the first advice I received when coming from 35 years in the Army and with no farming background, that 'It costs the same to feed a poor cow as it does to feed a good cow, so aim for the best quality cows', was irrelevant!

But I do wonder what the BES aims to achieve. Doubtless there are a multitude of experts sitting in offices analysing all the figures that I and others submit.

May I ask one small question – to what end? I admit to being something of a cynic, but I am not holding my breath awaiting some shaft of BES brilliance which will transform the entire Scottish beef industry.

Christopher Dunphie

Cloquhat Farms,

Bridge of Cally,