Farmer Focus: Young entrants need positive message

“Nervous” is the only way I can describe how I started the day yesterday. After hearing lots of scanning horror stories, my turn had arrived – Sandy the scanner was coming.

As the sheep ran across the main road, I looked at them and thought “some of you girlies look a bit fat. Oh no, no lambs?”

But it wasn’t that bad. Taking into account more than half the ewes this year are gimmers, I thought 166% wasn’t too bad.

Luckily not many triplets and less than 5% empty, so I certainly ended the day a lot happier than I started.

See also: How two landless young farmers have built 800-head flock

Our cattle are trundling along, unlike some farmers further south and in Ireland, who are constantly talking about putting up electric fences for turnout or posting videos of cattle grazing away on social media.

Have a thought for the rest of us who are still waiting for even the slightest sign of spring and just the tiniest bit of grass growth.

Back to school

Over the past month I have had quite a bit of interaction with one of our local high schools. First, I went in to talk about our farm and butchery to the second-years to launch their food challenge, which our butchery, Damn Delicious, sponsors.

Then I was back at a careers day, where the title of my section was “Starting your own business”. It’s nice to know it’s not just my teenagers who grunt and don’t know what they want to do.

I was also asked to speak at the SRUC New Entrants Conference, and last night I received a phone call from a pal who told me to tell the delegates to “get as far away from agriculture as they can”.

Well, I don’t agree. Young people should be encouraged, but not forced to farm.

Everyone always thinks everybody else has an easier job than them. Well, every industry has its challenges and it doesn’t matter what you do, if you work hard, you will succeed.

Our industry needs to start focusing on the positives rather than the negatives. We have so much to be proud of.


Michael Shannon finishes 150-head of mostly Angus beef stores each year and runs 280 Scotch Mules on a 100ha forage-only enterprise as well as free range turkeys for Christmas, near Biggar, Lanarkshire. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious with surpluses sold deadweight.