January has been a very busy month for our students both in the classroom and on Bridgwater College’s Rodway Farm, there has been a wide range of excellent opportunities for them as they are very clear that they wish to develop and extend their existing knowledge of agriculture.
Agriculture is the mainstay of rural communities, and a significant UK industry sector. The breadth of the Agriculture programmes offered at Bridgwater includes agricultural diversification, environment management, and agricultural production systems they provide our students with both the practical and theoretical understanding to manage a sustainable business. With a work placement, and open access to the knowledgeable tutors and farm staff they are developing the core capabilities and skills demanded by employers.
The last month on Rodway farm has been largely concentrating on preparing the ewes for lambing at the end of February. The ewes on the farm are mostly Texel Mules and a Welsh breed called Llanwenog’s, and the rams used are Charollais’ and Texel’s.
The 200 in lamb ewes have all been housed and separated into singles, doubles and triples. With a good scanning percentage of 189%. Separating the ewes is important for nutrition and reducing lambing problems. When lambing begins, students are on a rota to oversee the lambing and care of ewes. Practical lessons this month has mainly been a mixture of maintenance on all the tractors and equipment and vaccination and drenching ewes and ewe lambs.
In the next month many students including myself will be preparing an event called Lambing Fun Day. If you want to visit Rodway farm to see the ewes, lambs and maybe even some lambing, Lambing Fun Day is on the 8th March and is open to any person of any age. We would love to see you.
This is my update on what’s been happening at Cannington agricultural college and my experience so far during January/February. This month, the farm has been busy with preparing the sheep for lambing and starting to get the grass fields and machinery ready for first cut of grass silage.
In our workshop machinery practical’s during January we were repairing and doing general maintenance to the dung spreader, along with a few other parts of machinery. At the beginning of February our machinery practical’s consisted of spreading fertiliser on all of the grass land, as the soil temperatures were starting to increase, with a perspective of getting another early cut of silage.
Another large event that is underway is that the Rodway YFC has started to organise our charity fundraising event of grass to maize, collecting money for Cancer research and RABI (The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) which is being held on the 15th and 16th of April. Along with this the college is holding a lambing fun day on the 8th of March where the young farmers will have a stand where additional fundraising will take place to help reach our target of £3,000 which will be split between the two charities.
This month we were involved in a talk focussed on the issue and management of Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in this country. It is estimated that more than 90% of UK herds have had exposure to bovine virus diarrhoea with the dairy industry being the highest effected industry.
The talk was an overview of the general process of which the disease is spread, control procedures carried out and identification methods that are commonly used and are being more increasingly used. This is a subject we have studied within our Animal Health module of our course.
A control method that was mentioned was the use of a biosecurity system, this is something we have recently learned a lot about at Cannington having the college farms recently built biosecurity unit. This was set up to generally reduce and potentially stop the amount of diseases being brought on to the farm and all the same, being taken out onto other farms. This is achieved by having separate overalls and wellies when being on the farm, there is also a disinfectant bath to be used when entering the building to decrease bacteria and disease from remaining on the boots.
Within my second year of college I have been given 9 set modules to help finish my course. One of my topics is to ‘Undertake an Investigative Project in Land-based Sector’. I have been given planned assignments to help guide me and show me how to work on my project. I have to choose a project which I would personally like to research about. By carrying out a selected investigated project I get an opportunity to research and work along-side the farming industry.
I have chosen to research the difference between intensive and extensive fat pigs in my project. I have begun to carry out this investigation on piglets we breed on the home-farm by splitting them into the two systems. I have been taking data of the pigs’ weights by weighing them every month, this should show which system helps finish the pigs quicker and which system is the most efficient way within the pig industry and why.