Shropshire Star

Shropshire Farming Talk: All set for one of our busiest times

As we approach the official end of summer and beginning of Autumn, we dive into one of the busiest times of our year at the farm and across the college site.

Shropshire Star farming column columnist Bronwen Bray. Bronwen Bray is Head of Walford Campus. i.e. at Walford College..

Our new students have started with the Motor Vehicle workshops, equine and animal centres, residential and the farm bursting to life after a very quiet summer and joining them we have 105 new calves who are enjoying the warmth and the extra sunshine.

We have enjoyed seeing lots of people at the local shows over the summer and it looks as though our October open day will be busy.

We are now just over half way through calving in just over three weeks.

The milk herd now includes 245 cows and all of the calves are looking in excellent health. Our students have started on their early morning and whole days of duties on the farm.

This is really important as they are able to be immersed in the full calving experience whilst learning about the grazing platform and milking systems.

They can see first hand how the increased rainfall this summer along with the early and late summer sun has helped the grazing platforms.

Last year, we were struggling to get enough winter forage cut. This year, we have already cut just over 2000 tonnes of silage.

In places, the grass now is too rich and we are having to adjust processes to prevent cows from getting ill.

After a recent review of production and costs we have identified that the grass re-seeding, change in breed and cow type, along with the addition of more stable cow tracks, we will have reduced our annual purchased feed from 1.7 tonnes per cow last year to 1.5 tonnes this year.

The calves are thriving, with growth sustained again at 1.25kg per day against the National average of 0.9kg.

The stronger and healthier our calves are, the better our replacement cows will be going forward.

Milk production has remained high with milk sales increasing despite the UK wide reduction in price we are getting for our milk.

The students this year have continued to excel with achievement levels sustained above the National Average.

If you follow any of our Walford facebook pages. you will see that our old livery stables are being replaced and that our Motor Vehicle Centre has gained approval as an apprentice end point assessment centre.

If you want to know more, please go to our website or come to our October Open Event.

Bronwen Bray, Head of Walford College

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