Port William, Wigtownshire
Dairy, pigs & beef
MIXED (DAIRY, PIGS AND BEEF), WIGTOWNSHIRE:
Rory’s business is located close to the small fishing villages of Port William and Monreith, in the Machars of Wigtownshire, near to Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway.
Rory and his brother currently run a 200-sow pig business, and an 1100-cow dairy enterprise.
The business has been in the Christie family for three generations, with Rory managing the dairy side of the business and his brother Gregor in charge of the pig unit.
Within the dairy unit, the brothers work with two other dairy farmers, pooling the cows’ genetic resources to breed the best possible herds for their pasture-based dairy systems. Using the latest genetic testing, AI and embryo transfer (where fertilised eggs are extracted from the best cows and implanted in poorer cows to increase the number of top offspring), they are rapidly improving herd health, productivity, and profits.
Being involved in such exciting new ways of doing things, as well as building infrastructure, are Rory’s favourite aspects of farming. Wanting to drive a more circular economy, he is also keen to learn and share his farm experiences in a way that engages people so that they value everything about food and the way that it is produced, not just its price.
As founding chairperson of the Milk Suppliers Association (MSA) and Vice Chairman of the Scottish Agricultural Organisational Society (SAOS) Rory is soundly invested in the sector, believing that it is up to farmers to communicate the true cost of cheap food and continue to develop food systems that bring planetary solutions, encourage profitable primary producers, and deliver farming back to the top of the respect pile.
Rory’s passion for farming and the wider industry comes from a natural leadership quality and a desire to find the best outcome in any situation. He was never pushed by his family to farm, but he felt that it would provide him with the best way to lead, so chose to study agriculture at Edinburgh University before returning to his farm.
Rory feels strongly about the perception of farming and how it is expected to ‘just manage’ when decisions are made without consideration of what it means for the farmer and wider supply chain. One such topic that affects dairy farmers is the shooting of dairy bull (male) calves (which have little value in the food chain). While he believes there is no moral argument for this practice, he feels the industry shouldn’t just ban it and expect farmers to come up with the solution.
“Society is quick to blame farmers for all our planetary worries,” he says. “It is convenient and cheap to do so, however society at large is not aware that the current version of capitalism - shareholder value at all cost - is no longer fit for purpose.”
Chairperson of the Milk Suppliers Association (MSA) and Vice Chairman of the Scottish Agricultural Organisations Society (SAOS).
Mostly about the business, but also about dairy politics, the MSA and wider agricultural issues. Rory’s episode of the popular OnFARM podcast remains the most listened to of all the 80+ episodes broadcast, including those featuring both Princess Anne and Doddie Weir.