Valentine message from Reaseheath florists

Reaseheath College floristry students made floral messages to present to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

Level 1 Certificate in Floristry students at the Nantwich college enjoyed making heart shaped designs from fresh flowers during a Valentine themed practical lesson on Friday.

Said Louise Birks: “It’s been really good fun because we’ve been able to choose our own flowers and make our own designs for Valentine’s Day. Being a floristry student is great if you like art and design, because you work with colour and texture. And everyone loves getting a bouquet of flowers as a gift.”


Love is in the air for Reaseheath rabbits

Every bunny needs some bunny to love! This is the Valentine’s Day message from Reaseheath College’s animal management department in support of a national campaign encouraging owners of lone rabbits to find them a companion.

True love is definitely in the air for Bluebell and Beau, two of 25 rabbits kept by the Nantwich, Cheshire, college to educate students about their correct care. The former unwanted pets have become inseparable after being introduced by keepers.  In a far cry from their singleton days, Bluebell, a female Beveren Blue rabbit, and Beau, a white cross bred male, spend most of their time snuggled up together enjoying each other’s company.

Reaseheath’s rabbit keeper Emma Hunt, a member of the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, believes that every rabbit deserves a companion.

She says: “Rabbits are social animals but unfortunately many spend their lives in solitary confinement in a hutch at the end of the garden. They are bored, lonely and ignored, and this can lead to behavioural and health problems.”

In line with Britain’s leading animal charities, Emma is urging rabbit owners to look on February as ‘Adopt a rescue rabbit month’ and contact their local rescue centre to find a buddy for their bunny.

But she warns: “You should never attempt to introduce two rabbits unless both are neutered and the introduction should be done on neutral territory under supervision. Rescue centres will normally help with the bonding process, as this can be difficult. Don’t be too disappointed if it’s not love at first sight – not all introductions work.”

Emma also suggests housing the rabbits in a garden shed or playhouse with an attached run rather than a conventional hutch, as these offer more space for exercise. In Reaseheath’s tailormade rabbit room another love match is in the offing. Leonard, a newly rescued rabbit, is about to be introduced to lonely Tilly.

Reaseheath College supports the neutering and vaccinating of rabbits and does not support the casual breeding of rabbits. For further information about rabbit care email Emma Hunt on or contact your nearest animal rescue centre 

Animal Management to Africa and back

Holly and Hayley Africa 1Holly Berry and Hayley Worsfold  attended the 11th International Conference on Environmental Enrichment (ICEE), hosted by the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (Pretoria), held at Kwalata Game Lodge, Dinokeng Reserve near Pretoria. It was the first ICEE conference held within an in-situ context. The theme of the conference was ‘Visitor Experience through Environmental Enrichment’. This is very relevant to us in Animal Management at Reaseheath, particularly relating to how this impacts on our own BIAZA accredited Zoo open to the public during holidays.

Holly and Hayley deliver Level 3 modules including  Zoo Husbandry and Health and  Animal Behaviour, both of which contain significant content relating to Environmental Enrichment . The conference spanned five days and included six game drives followed by interactive workshops, speakers from all over the world and opportunities to network with guests. Over the course of the week Holly and Hayley attended over forty talks and ten poster presentations from national and international experts.

Hayley delivered her own presentation about the work she has done with students at Reaseheath. This was titled ‘Environmental Enrichment As An Active Learning Tool: Increasing Learner Motivation And Encouraging Visitor Participation’. This focused on the sustainability project she undertook last year with students to enable members of the public to create enrichment at our Family Festival.

The impact on our students and other staff is huge.  Both Holly and Hayley have been able to disseminate up to date knowledge, research findings, methods and skills to students relevant to a wide range of subjects and provide CPD opportunities for other staff.  Students have been exposed to refreshed ideas of the importance of understanding animal behaviour when realising a new concept for enclosure design and re-evaluating enrichment methods.

After the conference the CPD continued with a visit further south to Cape Town. Whilst there they had a specialist visit to SANCCOB Penguin Rescue Centre. Both have a history of working with Penguins and this visit has opened up intern opportunities for our students graduating this year.


Stephanie Dellicompagni

Animal Management 

Reaseheath’s lambing and zoo promise twice the fun

Local families can enjoy twice the fun if they visit Reaseheath College, Nantwich, during the first two weekends in March.

Preparations are well in hand for the college’s popular lambing events and the campus zoo will also be open to the public.

Reaseheath’s lambing weekends have been a community highlight for over 20 years and attract thousands of visitors eager to meet the new arrivals in the lambing sheds. The college has a flock of 500 sheep ready to give birth and about 1,000 lambs are expected over a three week period.

A big screen will show highlights of the action and experts will be on hand to demonstrate the special care required for fostering lambs. Children will be encouraged to watch and learn as lambs are bottle fed and given health checks.

Reaseheath’s shepherd Ollie Bagley, 21, a former Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture student, is in charge of a rota of students who are gaining practical experience in  lambing sheds.

He said: “Everything is ready for the lambing weekends. Fortunately for us the sheep are indoors but we are obviously hoping that the weather will pick up and that the fields will dry out.”

Families will also have the chance to see some of the  animals in Reaseheath’s zoo, which include meerkats, lemurs, tapirs, otters, birds of prey and companion animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

This year’s theme is agricultural rare breeds and visitors will be encouraged to meet the college’s golden Guernsey goat kids. There will be children’s arts and craft sessions and other fun activities along with educational talks by Reaseheath zoo keepers. Young visitors to lambing will also be able to plant up baskets with Spring bulbs and flowers.


Reaseheath College’s lambing sheds and zoo will open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, March 1 / 2 and on Saturday and Sunday, March 8 / 9 from 10am to 4pm. Hot refreshments will be available and outdoor plants from the college’s Crop Shop will be for sale.  A family ticket for both attractions is £25. For further details see  phone 01270 613215 or email

Tesco team gets a training taster at Reaseheath Food Centre

A technical and development team from Tesco’s dairy category received a practical overview of  production processes during a bespoke training event at Reaseheath College’s Food Centre.

The team of five, from Tesco’s head office in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, spent two days at Reaseheath’s Nantwich, Cheshire, campus. As well as receiving theory and hands-on training in the college’s industry standard food processing halls, the employees took the opportunity to hold a team building event in the food department’s dedicated conference facilities.

The team, made up of Category Technical Manager for Dairy Claire Lindsay, Product Development Manager Amanda Sankey, Cheese Technologist Anne-Sophie Stutzinger,  graduate Food Technologist Thea Lawson and Technical Administrator Sue Featley, work closely with suppliers to develop products and check food standards.

The training event allowed the team to gain knowledge and develop practical production skills and culminated in them manufacturing a batch of yoghurt.

Senior Dairy Technologist Derek Allen demonstrates yoghurt manufacture on Reaseheath’s flexible process plant to Tesco’s technical and development team

Senior Dairy Technologist Derek Allen demonstrates yoghurt manufacture on Reaseheath’s flexible process plant to Tesco’s technical and development team

Said Claire: “Reaseheath has a great deal to offer, particularly on the production side. The ‘hands-on’ training has been very useful for us because we have been able to see the whole process through. This has allowed us to appreciate the bigger picture and will enable us to work more closely with our suppliers and help us solve issues together.”

Reaseheath’s Business Development Manager Katherine Tunnicliffe explained: “This has been a great chance for us to show Tesco how we can help train their own staff and how this can be rolled out to benefit their supply base.”

Reaseheath runs specialised and bespoke training days for blue chip companies including Kraft Foods,  Tetra Pak and Arla Foods. Prospective commercial clients are welcome to make a site visit.

For further details of facilities and training opportunities see or contact Katherine Tunnicliffe on 01270 613175; E:


Reaseheath students study fishy business

Reaseheath College fish management students were in line for some prize catches when they carried out a survey of specimen fish at the Coole Acres Fishery and Fish Hatchery,  Nantwich.

The students, who are studying for their Level 3 Diploma in Fish Management at the Nantwich college, spent a practical session investigating the species and size of population of fish in the specimen pool.

The scale of the haul was soon apparent  with the capture of over 500 lbs of fish, the biggest individual weighing in at 18 lbs. Most were large carp with a handful of smaller roach. All the fish received a health check and were returned to the pool.

Ryan Richardson and Regan Reynolds hold two large carp while Ben Cook has a smaller roach

Ryan Richardson and Regan Reynolds hold two large carp while Ben Cook has a smaller roach

This was the first time the group had used seine netting to catch fish, a system which relies on good teamwork and communication.  The students enjoy weekly practical sessions at regional businesses and wildlife sites but this was their initial visit to Coole Acres. Explained Course Leader Peter Bryan: “It’s important that our students learn practical skills and spend time in industry on work experience. These are the skills which employers look for and helps our students when they are moving on into employment.”

Reaseheath’s dedicated fish management course launched this year and has 14 keen students who are hoping to work for the Environment Agency or progress into the management of commercial fish farms. Students on the college’s Level 2 Diploma in Countryside and Environment also study fish management.

Said student Tom Wagstaff: “We learned a lot from our visit and really improved our skills as the day progressed. Although it was cold and we were out in heavy rain we had a great time and we can’t wait to go again!”

The fish management students have  also been working with Greenspaces South Cheshire, a not-for-profit company dedicated to improving the local environment. This has included carrying out revetment improvement and coppicing trees on a tributary of the River Weaver.

For further details of Reaseheath’s fish management courses email Peter Bryan

Rare breed ponies help to educate Reaseheath students

Two rare breed ponies are helping Reaseheath College undergraduates to understand how the equine mind works.

Exmoor ponies Yasmin and Yohan, who are 19 months old, are being handled and trained by students studying for degrees in Animal Behaviour and Welfare or Zoo Management at the Nantwich, Cheshire college.

The ponies, which were bred by BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, began their education at Reaseheath’s equine centre last year and were featured in several programmes of the popular TV series.

Adam has since donated the filly and gelding to Reaseheath and they have joined other rare breed paddock animals which are used to teach students about their care. Many Reaseheath students go on to work in zoos and farm parks and find the experience invaluable to prepare for their future careers.

The students are training the ponies to lead on a halter in a round pen using natural horsemanship methods. They are also getting them used to being handled and groomed in the hopes that they can be entered into regional agricultural shows such as the Cheshire Show and Nantwich Show next year.

Madeline Harrison BSc ABW works with Yohan

Madeline Harrison BSc ABW works with Yohan

Hoofstock Keeper Kerri Robson hopes to set up a Showing Group for students who are interested in preparing and exhibiting animals in the showring. Apart from training the ponies, members will be involved in bathing, grooming and transporting them. Interested students may also get the chance to show Reaseheath’s rare Golden Guernsey goats.

Plans are already in place to include a fun rare breeds show in the programme for Reaseheath’s popular Family Festival, to be held this year on Sunday May 18.

Kerri successfully showed Reaseheath’s Welsh Section A pony Cassie last year at the Cheshire Show. She explained: “ I am hoping to show the students how rewarding showing animals can be.”

“Thanks to Adam, our students have the chance to show well bred and attractive ponies which will hopefully catch the judges’ eye. It is also an opportunity for them to learn how to do basic groundwork with untrained ponies. Being able to gaining this sort of experience is quite rare and a great privilege.”

Madeline Harrison, 18, who has volunteered to help with the ponies along with fellow students Sophie Dockray, Dani Cowell and Daniel Crutchley, said: “It has been very interesting to learn how to assess the ponies’ behaviour and how to work with them.”

Methane gas from cows makes for illuminating interview

The way Reaseheath converts the slurry from our dairy cows into a renewable energy source made for an illuminating interview on BBC Radio Stoke this week.

Farm Manager Mark Yearsley described the workings of our two Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants, which produce biogas from slurry. By producing our own energy and using it to power some of our campus buildings, we have been able to cut our electricity consumption by 15%.

Our two plants are demonstration units and widely used to promote on- farm AD to farming groups, who regularly tour the facility.

Mark has recently returned  from a scholarship to America, during which he studied the AD systems over there.

His chat with reporter John Acres followed an international story about an explosion in a building housing cattle in Germany, allegedly caused by the build up of methane gas produced by the animals.

Although sceptical about the amount of methane allegedly produced by the animals, Mark talked about the digestive systems of cattle and how the end product could be used sustainably. The interview was observed by an attentive group of cows from our elite herd, who obligingly provided some sound effects.

Two interviews – one about our cows and one about our AD plants – were broadcast on Monday February 3rd on Perry Spiller’s popular mid morning show.

BBC Radio Stoke regularly consult us for our expertise on rural subjects such as food, farming and horticulture.

Two weeks ago Horticulture Unit manager Neil Bebbington gave a very good live interview from our weather station describing the extreme weather patterns being recorded on the daily data. During the same week, Sam Walton was called upon to answer the bizarre question as to whether a cow could get up if a wall was built in front of it while it was lying down. (This was a radio quiz question and the answer is ‘No’, because cows need to lunge forward when they are getting up!)

Reaseheath students go orange for orangutans

Reaseheath College animal management students went orange to help save one of the world’s most endangered apes.

The students dressed in orange and asked others to do the same during fund raising activities for the ‘Go Orange for Orangutans’ campaign. Their efforts raised over £300 for the campaign, which was run by Chester Zoo as part of its “Act for Wildlife” initiative to raise money for conservation projects worldwide.

Two groups of students took part. Seventeen Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care ‘Group B’ students raised £227 after being sponsored by family and friends to dress up in orange while members of Reaseheath’s Conservation Society raised £76 by holding a social event in the student bar. This included the free services of DJ Sam Walton, courtesy of Moo Media UK. As well as raising funds, the students  also took the opportunity to talk about the plight faced by orangutans due to habitat loss.

The Level 2 Diploma students presented their cheque to Penny Rudd, Chester Zoo’s Registrar and Internships Co-ordinator, when she visited the campus last week. The Conservation Society members handed over their donation during a recent trip to the zoo.

Level 2 animal care group b students l-r Penny Rudd Chester Zoo students ashleigh goldstraw and robbie kelly

Chester Zoo’s Penny Rudd receives the donation from Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care students Ashleigh Goldstraw and Robbie Kelly.

Chester Zoo’s appeal has raised over £13,000 to be used to provide specialist camera traps in Borneo, the last stronghold of the wild orangutan.

Penny Rudd, who is a former Reaseheath governor and has strong links with the animal management department, said: “It has been wonderful to meet students who are so keen to become involved in a real conservation project.

“Orangutans face a very uncertain future owing to habitat destruction, mainly caused by the widescale production of unsustainably farmed palm oil. Along with Reaseheath, Chester Zoo aims to actively encourage and educate young people who will have the power to influence the future. In this case we need to encourage shoppers to buy only the products which contain responsibly sourced palm oil (look for the RSPO signs on packaging!) This could have a major impact in saving what little habitat is left for the orangutans.”

Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care Course Manager Holly Berry said: “Our students were particularly keen to help as they had learned about the plight of wild orang-utans during their lectures. Both the students and I were very proud to have raised money for such a worthy cause”

For further details see and for more details about Reaseheath’s animal management courses see

Videos kick off careers in racing

Videos promoting the diverse and exciting careers in the horse racing industry have been released by The Cheshire Racing Hub.

The Racing Hub was launched last year with the aim of highlighting to young people the racing careers available to them in Cheshire. Reaseheath College is an education partner, along with the University of Chester and the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool. The initiative is funded by the British Horse Racing Authority and Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The six videos focus on inspiring young people who are already working in the industry and turn the spotlight on careers in equine veterinary medicine, training, breeding and sales, work riding, barn management and racecourse personnel.  An introductory video features recently retired footballer Michael Owen, who is a local racehorse owner and racing enthusiast.

The videos can be viewed on Cheshire Racing Hub’s YouTube channel and official website.  They were made by Equine Productions, which produces bespoke videos for the racing and equestrian industries.

A successful preview of the videos was held at Bishop Heber High School, Malpas, earlier this month, accompanied by a talk by local point-to-point trainer Oliver Greenall, who described his role and his racing experiences.

Over 10 students expressed an interest in finding out more about careers in racing and a behind-the-scenes taster day for these students will be scheduled to give them a real insight into the industry.

With strong initial interest following this pilot, the Racing Hub is now looking at rolling out a similar programme across selected schools in Cheshire.

Racing Hub Chair Kay Kent said: “We are delighted to have produced some really informative and lively videos which relate and talk to young people about careers in racing and will live long into the future through Careers in Racing.  We look forward to taking Bishop Heber students on their next steps to finding out more about the exciting careers in Cheshire.”