Podcaster to discuss profitable pasture at Shetland monitor farm meeting

A farm consultant turned podcaster is set to discuss forage crops and pasture management at the next Shetland monitor farm meeting on Saturday, August 25.

Monitor Farm Community Group chairman, Jamie Leslie, will host the meeting at Scholland Farm.

Leslie, who farms in partnership with his father John with help from brother Alistair, cousin Steven, wife Louise, and his three children, runs 850 ewes and over 70 cows. He also contract farms at Sumburgh Farm.

Leslie has been rotational grazing his livestock for a few years and has recently been experimenting with crops such as plantain and fodder beet.

The group will hear from independent consultant Michael Blanche who will address how profit can be made through pasture management, practical ways of making rotational grazing work and how to manage higher stocking rates with challenging winters.

Blanche is a first-generation farmer who started with 50 sheep on seasonal lets and now has 1,000 ewes on a tenanted farm in Perthshire. He is also the host of The Pasture Pod podcast.

He has completed a Nuffield Scholarship which investigated growing a livestock business from very little and concluded that pasture management was the golden key to profit and equity growth.

Monitor farmers Kirsty and Aimee Budge, who farm at Bigton, are among those looking forward to visiting Leslie’s farm and hearing from Blanche on how to make profit through pasture management.

“We are really grateful that Jamie has offered to host the visit to his farm next week,” said Kirsty Budge.

“We, like lots of other farmers in the group, are keen to learn about how forage crops can help make our own business more efficient.

‘’We are also really looking forward to hearing from Michael Blanche on how pasture management can aid profit and growth.”

Bigton updates

At the meeting on August 25, Kirsty and Aimee Budge will also update the group on developments at Bigton including the barley trial plots and the grazing season.

The Shetland monitor farm is one of nine established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Cereals and 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 on Saturday, August 25, will begin at Ness Boating Club at 14:30pm and end at 6:00pm after a barbeque.