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Andrew and Debbie Duffus

Mains of Auchriachan, Tomintoul

The Duffus family from Mains of Auchriachan near Tomintoul, standing near a sheep feeder in a grassland field.Andrew and Debbie Duffus, and their sons, Sam, Ben and Max  farm at Mains of Auchriachan, Tomintoul. Sitting with in the Cairngorms National Park. They run a hill farm rented from Crown Estate and extends to 1,540 ha, sitting at 370m at home farm to 675m.

Their herd is made up of 60 Simmental cross cows split 50:50 between spring and autumn calving. Cows are put to Charolais and Beef Short horn sires. The hill cows 56 Highland and shorthorn cows, are put to the White short horn and Highland bull. Calves sold as stores. The stratified ewe flock sees 250 hill Blackfaces producing mules for the 250 ewe in-bye flock. Lambs sold prime and store.

Keen to expand the woodland cover on the farm for a combination of benefits e.g. production of timber and biofuel for the farm, increase in woodland habitat and improvements to the landscape of adjacent woodlands and more shelter for livestock. They have been working with the CNPA Landscape partnership. This has led to two new areas of woodland being created small/ farm woodland and native scots pine option. Both new woodland will create shelter and in return reduce need to supplement feed and increase carcass weights of cattle. There are future plans for creating more woodlands to provide shelter for their stock.

Photo credit & copyright: Anne MacPherson

Key messages

  • Having trees on the farm, has helped diversify the nature of the business to become more adaptable, and in the future will provide much needed shelter.
  • Rushes and heather are not productive, planting the area with trees makes more of it.
  • Know who is responsible for what: know what you’re doing and what the contractor is doing.
  • You can do the work yourself and you don’t need to rely on contractors. It can be a steep learning curve and there are challenges. It just takes time and planning, but there is support out there.
  • Monitoring of the trees is required as part of the process for the next 5-10 years, it’s important to have a good management plan in place.
  • Create a habitat for wildlife: life’s pretty boring without wildlife.