Agriculture students develop their practical skills during the Easter break - Bridgwater & Taunton College

Students enjoy linking the theory they learn at college to seasonal practical tasks. The course they are studying provides a balance of practical and theory activities covering a range of agricultural related subjects.

They have the opportunity to undertake visits to farms and other specialist land-based operations, and guest speakers and employer visits are a popular aspect of the course, including the development of skills to improve career prospects.

Adrian Netherway, who is very keen to put what he has learnt at Bridgwater College into practice.

The course also provides a wide variety of assessment methods which match the subject and meet individual student needs. In addition there are opportunities to represent the College by competing in both national and regional competitions.

Ben Roberts

As college has now come to the end of the term, Easter is here and all the students have two weeks off to relax, or in most of our cases, to work! This gives me a brilliant opportunity to catch up on jobs at home and work with my own sheep.

At home, all the sheep are out at grass, with lambs getting heavier every day. Hopefully very soon I will be weighing lambs for Monday morning markets at Exeter. Having this time off can also be used to continue work experience placement where every student has to complete 150 hours of work in their first year of college.

I am doing my work experience on a farm in Witheridge near Tiverton with dairy, beef and sheep, which includes about 1000 breeding ewes, which are mostly Suffolk Mules. This gives me good experience of working in the industry, learning about the aspects of sheep farming and also what work is really like. I thoroughly enjoy working there and have learned a massive amount in the short time I have been there.

In the leftover time I will be working on a 200 herd dairy farm, side by side with a small contracting business. My job on this farm mostly consists of relief milking, yard work and other general work around the farm including tractor work. By doing all this I am hoping to gain knowledge and skills so that I can progress into a full-time job once I have finished studying, or maybe even attempt to rent my own farm and be a successful tenant.

Adrian Netherway

During this month on Rodway Farm, the grass has started to alter and is well on target for first cut to be completed in the middle of April. We have also had another industry talk from Lely Robotic milking systems, which gave me an insight into a topic which I am unfamiliar with; the presentation gave me more knowledge about this type of milking.

The Cannington Young Farmers Club have finalised all of the details for the Grass to Maize charity event, which should be very successful, weather permitting. We also have two weeks off for Easter, where I have been concentrating on assignments, but also my work experience placement and work at home, where we have been out completing field work preparing to sow spring crops and Maize, along with grassland preparation, plus weighing our store lambs with a target of 40 – 45kg live weight.

Annabella Cornish

At home on our 180 cow dairy herd we have been looking at the comparison between our Holstein cows and our cross bred cows, which are mainly Holstein cross Ayrshire.

From looking at the milk records for March, both the Holstein cows and heifers are producing at 27.7 ppl, whereas our cross bred cows are reaching 28.5ppl and heifers 27.9ppl. This is down to the higher production of milk quality with both higher butter fats and protein content being achieved by the cross breds.

All the cows in milk are fed the same rationed diet which illustrates that the rise in these figures is down to the cross breeding within the cows. We began to cross breed nearly four years ago, and have noticed a positive change within the herd which has been particularly noticed with foot health, since introducing the trait of black hooves into the breeding. The dairy sessions at college have really helped me to understand the complexities of dairy cow breeding.

Michelle Parish

College this month has been busy, with lambing coming to an end and last assignments being issued before the end of the academic year. You may already know that this month, the college opened the farm to the public by having a family open day: Lambing Fun Day.

This event was able to inspire the younger generation and give them knowledge about farming and the livestock. There was a good turnout, with around 4000 visitors on the farm. The farm set up lots of activities to get people involved with the sheep, such as young ones having their photo with one of the lambs, and demonstrations for the public to watch.

After the Easter holidays, Rodway Young Farmers are organising an event to raise money for Cancer Research and RABI. The club have decided to do Grass to Maize in 24 hours. This will entail the club working together along with other participants in college, to turn the previous cropping ‘grass’ into a prepared seedbed for the maize to be planted. The outcome of the event will be published in next month’s write-up.

This article is part of a monthly column written by Agriculture students at Bridgwater College. You can read the other articles in this series here: January, February, March, May, June

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