A major milestone has been reached by Newton Rigg College in its plans to build a new dairy unit at one of the college's farms.
Photo shows left to right, Jonathan Fisher, the College's Farm Manager with Principal Wes Johnson at Sewborwens Farm.
Full planning permission for the green field 250 cow unit at Sewborwens Farm has been granted by Eden District Council, which now enables the College to move on to the next stage of the development. There will be two adjacent new buildings, one entirely of cubicles for the milking herd, with the other housing the parlour, handling and teaching facilities, dry cows and high attention cows. There will also be a novel slurry storage sysytem. Newton Rigg merged with York based Askham Bryan College last year with the pledge of investing more than £1m into revitilising the farms and thus enhancing the scope of students' studies.
Liz Philip, Chief Executive said: “This is great news and means we can progress to the next stage which is getting some support funding in place. We have applied to Defra for a grant towards the cost of the unit. We estimate this will total around £1.9m including the cost of the stock - I hope Defra would be able to contribute around ten per cent. We don't know when or if our application will be successful but our aim is to get the cattle in by March 2013, that's the date we're working to.”
The unit will be built close to the Sewborwens farmstead, next to the farm buildings, with the emphasis on minimising endemic disease and ensuring maximum cattle health and comfort. Cumbrian vet, David Black who is also a governor at Newton Rigg, has played a major role in formulating the plans, assisted by a Cumbrian-based farmer advisory group which he chairs. Observation galleries are planned, plus solar panels and rainwater collection will assist in the practical teaching of environmental studies.
Liz Philip added:“Providing education for tomorrow's farmers and leaders of the industry particularly in Cumbria is at the core of what we do and building a modern state of the art unit to the highest industry standards means we have a showcase resource for their studies. Having the support of the Cumbrian community is hugely important to us as we deliver on the promises we made almost a year ago.”
Investment for the farms is already underway with new machinery being purchased, including a tedder and a topper, plus new tractor and trailer. Farm Manager Jonathan Fisher is building up stock numbers and is currently on the hunt for around 35 commercial heifers. The plan is to have a small nucleus of pedigree Holstein cows with rest made up of commercial cows. Earlier in the year cows were bought from the North Yorkshire based Dalesend herd as a starting point.
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