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BERVIE TAKES THE ROBOT ROUTE


Worthy winners of the inaugural Scottish Dairy Farmer of the Year Award, the Colquhoun family’s Bervie herd combines attention to detail and good management with technology in the shape of four robot milking units, as Sarah Liddle reports


F


or the first time last year, an award was presented at Agriscot to the Scottish Dairy Farmer of the Year. All milk recorded herds in Scotland were automatically entered and initial selection took into account herd production, cell counts and calving interval as performance indicators, which reduced the numbers to a top 20. From here a judge selected his top four, again on the basis of herd results, with visits made to the finalists. The outcome was that Gregor Colquhoun and family of the Bervie herd at Inverbervie by Montrose, on the north east coast of Scotland, was the inaugural winner of the Agriscot World Wide Sires Scottish Dairy Farmer of the Year award.


Gregor has been married to Faye for three years and they have two young daughters; Evie and Lexie. Farming in partnership with his parents, Gregor runs the 350 cow herd and 400 followers at Dendoldrum Farm, which covers 810 acres. Of this acreage, 200 is permanent grass and woodland, 300 acres is grassland (the herd is housed all year round so this is predominantly silage or grazing for far off dry cows and in calf heifers) and 300 acres is arable. As big believers in self sufficiency, roughly one third of the arable is spring wheat for wholecrop silage, one third is winter wheat for the cow ration and the last


18 THE JOURNAL AUGUST 2010


third is winter barley, which is fed to the barley beef.


Gregor is the third generation to farm. His parents Judy and Blair are still instrumental on the farm; Judy feeds calves and does all the book work while father Blair feeds the cows, does the feet, inseminating and general chores. It was 30 years ago when Blair first registered the Bervie prefix, as he had a genuine interest for the herd he milked and subsequently graded up, while it was Blair’s own father who started farming after the war in 1947.


Starting in a byre with 40 cows, the herd expanded in 1972 when Blair built a Moo- tel (cow kennels) for 120 cows. This was added to in 1980 as the herd grew to 200 cows, when three times a day milking was introduced, one of the first Scottish herds to do so, on the premise that the herd needed to produce as much milk as possible to justify the investment in the expansion and new parlour which was built.


Just three years ago the herd virtually doubled in size again, growing to 350 cows (300 milking at one time), when a new shed was built to house the entire milking herd and four Lely robots were installed, enabling the farm to continue with more cows while staffing levels remained the same.


Graduating from University in 1997, Gregor took a job at Harbro (which is Scotland’s largest animal feed company, employing a dozen dairy


TOP The milking herd at Bervie is housed under one roof and milked through four Lely robots.


LEFT Saving work! This Lely robot pushes food up to the cows multiple times a day.


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