The College farm in Cannington is a commercial operation which extends to over 200 hectares, providing arable, pasture and conservation areas, while being home to a number of specialist livestock enterprises.
Over £1 million has recently been invested in developing the farm, as it positions itself not only as a leading provider of agricultural training and education, but also as one of the most innovative dairy farms in the region.
Students have daily access to the farm’s exemplar resources through timetabled teaching, together with practical farm duties which take place throughout the year.
The milking parlour showcases the latest computerised monitoring technology systems that enable maximum reproductive and nutritional performance from the herd. This allows students to monitor individual cow performance on a daily basis. On average our cows produce 9,500 litres of milk per cow per year. Investment in the installation of new cubicles has helped ensure that the farm continues to operate to high welfare standards.
The sheep enterprise currently consists of two hundred ewes of a variety of different breeds crossed with Texel rams. This includes 60 Llanwenog ewes which are part of a long term research project with the Llanwenog Sheep Breed Society. Lambing takes place at the end of February through to March to produce finished lambs during the summer and early autumn.
The recent introduction of a new computerised recording programme will enable the analysis of different breeds’ ability to produce the right conformation and weight of lamb in the shortest time possible. This in turn will enable the breed most suitable to this Farm to be selected for increased production, ease of management and greater profitability. It is anticipated that the input, collection and analysis of this data will further involve students and teaching staff.
A number of Beef sires are used on the Dairy herd for comparison. We have access to a large commercial Beef unit in the village of Cannington.
The land currently used for arable production has a cropping rotation programme in which spring wheat and maize are grown, together with Italian ryegrass and red clover.
Once a basic level of competence has been reached in machinery operations, students go on to utilise the full range of modern equipment used in farm related operations such as ploughing, drilling and mowing, fertiliser application and harvesting. In addition, several hectares are allocated for student trial plots each year.
The current estate management plan enables all students to participate in the maintenance and management of other aspects of the College land, such as fencing, hedge laying, coppicing and dry stone walling.
A group of leading agriculture organisations and employers have recently established the Future Farmers Group to help Agriculture students progress into the industry by offering them a fast-track route into management positions.
If you would like to find out more about this programme, perhaps with a view to joining the FFG, please click here.