Nicola and Will each received a memento in London after a making a formal presentation on dairy farming. Last month they was selected for the preliminary round of interviews at Reaseheath College of Agriculture, where a panel of judges questioned 14 short-listed entrants on the college’s dairy enterprise and how it could improve its efficiency and service to the industry. They were among the six semi-finalists selected to tour Dairy Crest’s Severnside processing facility in Gloucestershire where they each gave a presentation on their vision of the dairy sector in 2022.
Nicola is partner in the family farming business with her parents, Colin and Jenny, who run the 115 cow pedigree Curscombe Holstein herd, based near Honiton, Devon. Apart from milking and helping with the family’s winning show team, Nicola is co-ordinator of Devon HYB, treasurer of Honiton YFC and winner of various YFC awards ranging from dairy stock judging to national brains trust public speaking. She has also participated in a national YFC scholarship to Kenya.
She commented: “I’m thrilled to be among the finalists for this prestigious award. I believe it recognises my hard work both at college and home on the farm which I eventually plan to take over from my parents. I’m focused on improving the herd’s genetics, breeding more efficient, quality cows which are both a pleasure to milk and pleasing to the eye.” She added: “I believe that UK dairy farming has a viable future, there is room for a variety of systems and with the continual advancement of new technology, there are opportunities for all farmers to improve their efficiencies.”
Will hails from Llansantffraid where his parents, Phil and Jane farm a 100 cow Holstein herd. He is a member of Shropshire HYB and is currently grading up the family herd to pedigree status with the Deytheur prefix. Will commented: “I’m thrilled to be among the finalists for this award after being really interested in farming, and in particular dairy genetics, since I was 10 years of age when my parents allowed me to select which bull to use, and unknowingly I happened to choose the UK’s top sire. That bit of luck has driven me to search out a career in genetics after graduating, before I eventually take over the family farm for which I have ambitions to become one of the leading herds in the country.”
He added: “To the industry’s future, I think dairying will be exciting in the long term, however in the short term I believe that UK farmers and processors will have to start gearing up for 2015 and the end of the EU quota regime. Other member states are planning serious expansion and in order to compete, UK producers will have to prepare by increasing herd size or average yield, while processors will have to invest to improve their efficiency and increase their added value range.”
Dairy Crest’s milk procurement director, Mike Sheldon said: “We are very pleased to support this award which demonstrates our commitment to supporting young people. The award plays an important part in raising the profile of dairy farming to the next generation which is crucial to the long term future of our industry. In fact the number of colleges participating increased by 40% on the year. We were also delighted to welcome the students to our Severnside dairy which enabled them to get an insight into dairy processing and also the importance of efficiency and innovation throughout the supply chain.”
RABDF’s chief executive, Nick Everington commented: “Rewarding success and achievement, and promoting career opportunities in the dairy sector are key activities for our association. We need more of these intelligent and highly motivated young farmers to drive our industry forward to enable it to compete in world markets and secure the future for British dairy farming.”
William Astley and Nicola Bishop with the judges.