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Arnold and Angela Mathers

Tormiston Farms, Orkney

The Mathers family, who are farming 142 hectares (350 acres) on Orkney in the Northern Isles of Scotland, run 120 Aberdeen-Angus breeding cows alongside a substantial contracting business.

Arnold and Angela Mather, along with their sons Garry and Euan, have invested heavily in cattle housing over recent years allowing them to double their breeding herd.

With straw at a premium on the island the family have built some slatted accommodation for their cattle, alongside some more traditional straw bedded courts.

Despite the additional costs involved, they also decided to cover the slatted areas with rubber matting, which they say has considerable animal health and welfare benefits.

This new purpose-built cattle housing has improved the performance of their cattle, which means they are finishing cattle earlier, with more cattle meeting target specifications.

The majority of the finished animals are marketed through Scotbeef.

Investment

The Mathers family offer local farmers contracting services, and with farm labour an issue on Orkney the Mathers spotted an opportunity to go onto farms with a mobile bruising machine.

The Mathers decided to invest in machinery for this purpose, and this can bruise in excess of 14 tonnes of barley an hour. This is in comparison to traditional on-farm facilities which can typically bruise two tonnes an hour.

They have also invested in precision technology on the machinery side of the business in order to give greater efficiency when it comes to seed drilling, slurry and fertiliser spreading.

The growth of the contracting business also means the family are able to take on local farmer’s sons at busy times of the year, which provides a valuable source of employment on the island.

The family also rent an additional 130 acres, which they use to grow barley, with grain sold to local farmers, and straw used in their new livestock housing.

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