Farmer Gary Mitchell with a dairy calfGary Mitchell © Robert Smith

I can feel this is going to be a summer show marathon with Balmoral, Ayr, Royal Highland, Fettercairn and the Great Yorkshire Show already attended.

For those of you who have not heard of Fettercairn, it is south of Aberdeen, near Laurencekirk.

On this occasion I was asked to judge the supreme champion between a sheep, a horse and a fantastic Charolais-cross heifer.  

Thankfully, the lovely heifer cross and its excellent handler made my job very easy.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

The weather was very poor at the Great Yorkshire Show last Monday (10 July), which was the only day I could attend, but there was a great turnout of livestock and plenty of people.

Unfortunately, on the way home the A66 was closed for five hours because of an accident. I’ve decided I will stay for two days next time.

Encouraged by Morrisons

I was encouraged to hear Morrisons commit to 100% fresh British meat year round. This includes lamb, and is another great step in preparing for Brexit.

I do hope we can soon find a market for all our Holstein bull calves, as supplies tighten as more supermarkets go down this route.

I also think dairy-cross calves should be strategically bred to fill the gaps in the beef supply chain. Suckler herds typically tend to be spring and autumn calving, so there could be opportunities to level the supply more instead and reduce the risk of oversupply.

Too many dry cows

At home cows are milking well. The problem is too many of them are dry at the moment. Almost 12% of them are on maternity leave.

Hopefully this will correct itself come September/October, when the milk price starts with a three (holding my breath).

We are having a Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate inspection at the moment. This is where all land is measured, along with all spray and our new nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ) records are looked at.

I must confess the stock loading is the biggest challenge to this process.

Before our farm was put in the zone I thought NVZ was merely about when and where you spread slurry/dung. I do hope we can lose this in Brexit somewhere.


Gary Mitchell milks 800 cows near Stranraer, with heifers reared on a local farm. Gary zero grazes 80ha of the 195ha he owns. He is vice-chairman for NFU Scotland.