25 February 2022
Our students are counting the days to start the farm's spring activities. The first phase of lambing has happened, with the second phase just around the corner, alongside a high increase in calvings. Other activities have included training the dairy cows to be milked through our newly installed robots and moving the entire pig herd to their new state-of-the-art piggery.
Fieldwork will also start soon for our students, whether managing a farm, carrying out research and development, operating and maintaining hi-tech machinery, or working in an allied industry, such as livestock nutrition crop agronomy. Our agricultural courses steer our students towards a rewarding career. All our students get jobs as soon as they've qualified or progress onto higher-level courses.
We have run agricultural courses very successfully for many years, and we're right up to date with the technological advances within the industry. Apart from learning hands-on on our modern farm, our students benefit from visiting a range of agri-businesses and visiting speakers that enthuse our students through their experience and knowledge of the career they are about to embark on.
Below is a summary of student activities over the past few weeks –
Following my recent practical lesson and Dairy routine, we have moved on to three new assignments. Each of these assignments has come from our lessons so far: work experience, livestock and soil science. The work experience assignment stands out to me because it's a close step of what it's like to start in the industry of your chosen career path. Dan - our lecturer - is always positive and informative when helping me understand the interview process and CV write-ups. We will soon be undertaking mock interviews with staff, which is excellent practice and a confidence booster for many. On the practical side, the first group of ewes have lambed with a good lambing percentage. It was good to have an early group lambing to build confidence in preparation for the main group scanned at 165%. Our objective will be to have as many lambs alive at four weeks and get as close as possible to that figure.
Since joining Plumpton College, I have become further acquainted with my desire for learning. This drive has led me to engage in extra-curricular activities and events and perform in all of my mandatory college routines. My most recent routine week entailed working with the pig unit, set for demolition in the next few weeks. The college has built a new pig unit which is now complete, meaning the current pig stock in the old unit can be transferred to their new accommodation before February. This unit is one of many new avenues the college is taking in diversifying the learning resources and facilities, including a new driving range and robotic milking for the dairy parlour. This unit houses specific changes from the old; for example, the farrowing house will adhere to new regulations for welfare, meaning more space for the sows and more comfortable flooring for them. The new unit offers larger farrowing pens and wider-gapped slats for improved comfort moving forward.
Furthermore, the new robotic milking unit in the dairy parlour is set to commence operation. The first selected compatible cows were shown the Lely Atlantic robotic milk unit last week by being fed in it alone to initiate the shift to robotic milking. This would enable the animals to build trust in the new units since they offer something tasty. Now, the cows trust these new units; it should help make automatic milking smoother as they fully inaugurate robotic milking this week.
Overall, I have found learning about these innovative farming techniques and facilities wholesomely intriguing - allowing me to reflect on the future I aim to be heavily involved in going forward.
Learn more about our history
Since the original 400-acre College farm was bought back in 1919, Plumpton College has certainly seen a lot of changes.