2015-06-19   facebook twitter rss

Young Farmers look to the Future

Four young cattle breeding enthusiasts from across the UK have been given the chance to showcase their skills as finalists in the Cogent’s Futures Programme 2015.

Carys Jones from Monmouthshire has conquered the competition as the very first female finalist. At just 23 years old, not only is she actively involved in her family's 200 acre dairy farm, Larchwood Holsteins, in Monmouthshire but she is studying for her professional qualifications as a Rural Chartered Surveyor with Savills (UK) Ltd. In addition, she owns pedigree Holsteins under the Chequers prefix and is Chairlady of Wentwood YFC.

(L-R) Tom Hull, Scott McLean, Andrew Patterson and Carys Jones.

(L-R) Tom Hull, Scott McLean, Andrew Patterson and Carys Jones.

Carys hopes that taking part in the Futures Programme will expand her understanding of cattle genetics and the knowledge she acquires will have direct relevance for the family business

“One of the aspects of the programme that particularly appealed to me was the chance to travel abroad with an established Sire Analyst and learn exactly what Cogent are looking for in bulls selected for stud. Once I obtain my professional qualifications, I want to continue my career with Savills and help develop Larchwood Holsteins into a 'show cow' herd through, genetic merit, correct bull selection, effective culling decisions and high stockmanship levels. The overall future of farming in the UK is very strong in that we have young, capable people within our industry that have the skill set to drive us into the next generation successfully. I am excited to be a part of that”, says Carys.

Second finalist, Andrew Patterson, has a passion to see technology advance the future of farming. After growing up on his family’s 100 cow dairy unit in Northern Ireland, Andrew studied a BSc Hons Degree in Agriculture at Harper Adams University. This allowed him to take a placement year at Butlerview Farms in North America where he was given the opportunity to work with some of the world's best show and genomic animals.

He is a committee member of his local YFC and enjoys all aspects of dairy farming from the day-to-day management of a herd to clipping, showing and judging at various HYB competitions where he has worked for some of the UK’s top breeders such as Richaven and Ingleview.

“A big interest of mine for the future is the introduction and reliance of technology on farm. By having all features of individual cow health and fertility measured and fed back to a computer, I believe that the technological potential of farming will contain more than enough data to implement effective fertility and health plans to aid production and profitability” says Andrew

“I feel the Futures programme will give me a great insight into selecting the best bull dams within the worldwide cow population and I am greatly looking forward to the two day study tour of Northern England and South West Scotland.”

Despite not originating from a farming background, third finalist Scott McLean from Northern Ireland certainly intends to make his impact known in the industry. With a passion for genomics, he has a firm belief in using genetics to advance the future of UK farming. Scott who realised early on that he had a keen interest in animals, took a weekend milking job at the age of thirteen for Bellemont Holsteins, a 300 head herd owned by Norman McCollums. Now, twelve years later, he has become increasingly involved in breeding decisions.

“The knowledge I have built up over the last twelve years with Bellemont Holsteins has allowed me to take the next step as a Herdsman. I now own my own animals within the herd which I purchased from embryos a few years back. Recently, I also purchased the very first "polled" embryos for the herd.”

However, it is seeing the industry moving forward through genetics that is Scott’s biggest passion: “What interests me most now is the ability to genomically test the calves within two months of birth. I'm a strong believer in genomic's and I feel it's only going to improve over the years. This means that in the future, we could see Bellemont Holsteins and numerous other herds using 100% young genomic Bulls!”

Eighteen year old, Tom Hull has been milking cows for as long as he can remember. As the third generation of a Lancashire farming family, dairying is firmly in his blood and it is not surprising, that his drive and determination along with a passion for genetics, has seen Tom shortlisted as the fourth finalist.

Tom is currently studying for an Extended Diploma in Agriculture at Reaseheath College to further his understanding of the industry and to take a bigger responsibility over breeding decisions for the family herd.

“My father has encouraged me to be proactive with the breeding program of our herd and with the assistance of local semen representatives, I have been selecting the sires and the mating programs used for the last five years. I would like to broaden my horizons and expand my knowledge of all aspects of cattle breeding, genetics and new dairying techniques by visiting Canada, the USA, New Zealand and European countries to compare their systems with ours. I believe I can utilise this information and technology to breed cattle with longevity, positive health traits and stature suitable for the everyday farming systems in the UK,” says Tom.

For the next stage of the competition, all four finalists will visit a range of dairy herds throughout the UK to be assessed on their ability to select potential bull mothers and match these cows to a suitable sire.


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