Two ambitious young dairy farmers are looking forward to global travel thanks to a scholarship run by Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society.
Neil Roberts and Neil Quinlan were presented with John Platt Travel Scholarships, worth £2,000, during the Presidents Lunch at the Cheshire Show.
Neil Roberts, a 30 year-old dairy farmers and herd manager for Townhouse Holsteins at Park Hall Farm, Clotton near Tarporley, will use his scholarship to learn about progressive cow housing systems on a ‘Cow Signals’ course in Holland and will continue his studies at the ‘Alta-U’ course in Wisconsin, USA. He will follow this with a week viewing some of the world’s best dairy facilities in North America.
Neil Quinlan, 35, who helps to manage the dairy herd and youngstock at Polar Hall, Tattenhall, for Neil and Nigel Matthews, plans to visit large and small scale dairy farms in the USA to identify successful strategies in heifer rearing. He will also attend a ‘Calf Signals’ course and visit heifer rearing units in the UK so he can compare techniques.
Both participants will share their finding with fellow farmers, Young Farmers Clubs and agricultural students as part of their award.
Neil Roberts and Neil Quinlan both studied agriculture at Reaseheath College in Nantwich and have continued to expand their knowledge while progressing into responsible roles within the dairy industry.
Neil Roberts has been Herd Manager at Park Hall Farm for 11 years and helps to run the 12,000 kg herd of 500 pedigree Holsteins on a high yield system milking three times daily. The business also has 450 heifer replacements on the farm.
The ‘Cow Signals’ course he will attend has been set up by Joep Dreissen an influential Dutch vet, and will focus on farm set up, building design and other factors which can improve welfare and profit. After the week long course Neil will become a qualified ‘Cow Signals’ master trainer.
He said: “this travel scholarship will help me to maximise cow welfare both at my own farm and on other throughout Cheshire. It will enable me to attend a course where I’ll be encouraged to think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to housing. Often small details can make cows life easier and live longer”.
Neil Quinlan is particularly interested in heifer rearing and plans to identify successful strategies used in the USA, particularly methods of colostrum management and techniques to support calves during their first two weeks of life. He also wants to investigate how weight gains are maximised and growth targets are achieves, from weaning to bulling age.
A ‘Tesco Future Farmer’ last year, Neil runs the youngstock unit with over 100 replacement heifers at Poplar Hall as well as helping to manage the dairy herd of 305 Holstein cows.
He said: “I believe we in the UK could do a great deal more to maximise efficiencies and income within the youngstock industry. I am looking forward to seeing as much as possible and sharing the knowledge that I have gained with other farmers.
“I would like to thank Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society for giving me the opportunity to further my knowledge and interests.”
The John Platt scholarship is in memory of John Platt, a former Chair of Reaseheath Governors and former Chairman, President and Honorary Life Warden of the Cheshire Agricultural Society.
Presenting the awards, Cheshire Show Director Keith Thomas said that both young farmers had been outstanding candidates and had shown the drive, ambition and desire to seek out new information and technology which would benefit the Cheshire farming community.
The John Platt Scholarship is awarded annually and is open to young people from a rural background who live or work in Cheshire. Applications are being taken for next year.
Caption: Neil Quinlan and Neil Roberts receive their John Platt Travel Scholarships from Keith Thomas and Reaseheath Governor and selection committee member Richard Ratcliffe.