Experience of breeding cattle for future farmers

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A new herd of cattle at Bishop Burton College will give students a chance to experience breeding of pedigree cattle first-hand.

The Beverley-based college is investing in a Hereford cattle herd in time for the start of next month’s new academic year.

The first four suckler cows, which form the nucleus of the herd, were home bred from a pair of two-year-old Limousin cows. Six heifers and a bull will soon be added to complete the initial breeding stock.

College principal and chief executive Jeanette Dawson anticipates that the herd will be 40-strong by the end of the year.

“The new herd will live on-site and will offer a wealth of new teaching opportunities for the College, enabling our students to experience a different breed to the 370-strong herd of Limousin, Holstein and Brown Swiss cattle they are used to,” she said.

“At the end of the academic year, our students will have had first-hand experience of the cattle breeding process, will have a much deeper knowledge of the dietary requirements of a range of cattle breeds, and more importantly, they will know how to grow a profitable herd from suckler cows.”

As well as offering a range of new teaching practices, the herd will also provide home-reared British beef for the College’s commercial partnership with Dunbia, which supplies British beef to retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative. Mrs Dawson added: “Our farm is second-to-none and we’re proud that as well as providing a hands-on educational environment for students, our farm is also run commercially. In today’s economy, it has never been more important than to teach students how to run a viable farm business.”

Besides the herd of cattle, students also benefit from having access to more than 400 hectares of farmland, a 500-strong flock of sheep and a drift of some 250 pigs.