Shropshire Star

Shropshire Farming Talk: Harper Adams University

At Harper Adams, our Future Farm has three separate – but interrelated – functions.

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Kate Robinson

We are, as you might expect for a farm on a University campus, a teaching farm; we are, also, a research farm, where we work with our academics to Investigate and improve farming practices of all kinds.

This can be from using artificial intelligence to boost cattle health to improving efficiency and helping the environment through cutting methane production in cow’s diets.

However, and importantly, we are also a commercial enterprise – our milk is sent to a supplier like many other farms in Shropshire.

So, it was great news for our team when, recently, we were able to add a fresh round of awards to our trophy cabinet at this year’s NMR Shropshire herd competition.

The team – and the herds – at both the Harper Adams main dairy and SMART dairy research centre each secured a further set of awards, continuing a run of year-on-year successes.

The University’s Dairy Unit – which began in 1955 - comprises 435 cows, with the animals split into two separate units on the farm.

The bulk of the cows – around 380 – form the main unit, and are milked using an internal rotary dairy system.

Meanwhile, a further 55 cows make up the Smart Dairy, which is a dedicated research unit where each cow is milked using a robotic automatic milking system.

Both herds are not only managed commercially, but also form part of those vital teaching and research facilities which make up the Harper Adams farm.

In this year’s awards, the main herd took home a first prize for the Family Group category with ‘Clary’, a second prize in the Hygiene Cup, and three third prizes – one for a GLW pair of 50 Tonne of milk cows, one for Super Cow- Harper Adams Alltime Edelgard, and one in the Large Herds category.

Meanwhile, the Smart Dairy herd secured a first prize for Predicted Genetic Improvement, a second prize for Super Heifer, Harper Adams House Eclipse, and a third prize in the Small Herds category.

The prizes mark another year of improvements at the dairies, which have consistently secured NMR prizes for their work.

We are extremely pleased and proud that team’s hard work is being recognised and awarded beyond our farm gates.

The awards signify the level of dedication our staff have towards both the welfare and the productivity of our animals.

These successes could not be achieved without the cross- sector alliance we have here at the Future Farm and we hope this continues as we continue to strive towards exemplary herd performance.

by Kate Robinson is Ruminant Sector Manager on the Harper Adams Future Farm

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