Countrysiders' dairy training day gives valuable insight for farmers of the future
PUBLISHED: 13:35 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:52 22 February 2018
Katharine Robinson, Norfolk YFC
A training day at a dairy farm in Shipdham was an eye-opening experience for the Countrysiders, the junior branch of Norfolk Young Farmers' Club, says Norfolk YFC county co-ordinator KATHARINE ROBINSON.
As the newest member of the county office team, I joined the Countrysiders at their dairy and calf handling course, held at Grange Farm in Shipdham by kind permission of Ken and Rebecca Proctor with their Airfield Dairy Herd.
The tutor for the day was one of our own ex-YFC members, Helen Reeve, and who better to give me and the Countrysiders a better understanding of the world of dairy farming.
The first area visited was the “maternity wing” which housed cows imminently due to give birth.
Everyone was delighted to see that a cow had just calved, and the calf was getting up on his feet. The children were fascinated and were told how the other pregnant cows in the pen will often mother a calf while the new mother adjusts to what has just happened.
In the calf area, the group learned about ear tags, the jackets some calves wore and the milking and feeding processes that are managed by Rebecca Proctor.
The Countrysiders then got stuck in to putting clean bedding in the animals’ stalls, giving them fresh water and tidying the shed.
Jack Fisher, also a Young Farmer member who works for the Proctors, showed the group around the farm and talked about why some cows were in different areas of the farm. They learned how artificial insemination takes place and that the farm produces calves all year round.
In the afternoon, each Countrysider was shown how to put a halter on a calf and how to handle and teach the calf to lead. This was done in a secured area and they all learned very quickly how to talk to their calf and allow it to get to know its handler.
Later, the Countrysiders watched the cows being milked in the main dairy and were taught about the process of getting milk to the table. The computerised systems make the dairy farmers life easier and they are able to keep track of which cows are the best producers of milk at any one time.
The Countrysiders are now looking forward to the calf handling competition in April.
• For more details about Norfolk Young Farmers and its junior branch, the Countrysiders, contact the county office on 01603 731307.