Cumbria Crack

The Prince of Wales to visit Newton Rigg College’s hill farm

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting The George Hotel, Penrith, Cumbria.

[H]RH The Prince of Wales is to visit Newton Rigg College (part of Askham Bryan College) on Monday 26 March. HRH will spend time at the College’s National Centre for the Uplands meeting staff and students at Low Beckside Farm, Mungrisdale, Penrith.

There he will see the College’s state-of-the-art Sheep Husbandry Centre which is helping to safeguard the future of uplands farming, and meet students demonstrating their skills, including lambing and sheepdog training.

The College specialises in providing land-based education to more than 5,000 students and 800 apprentices at campuses across the North of England.

As Patron of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, HRH will meet Fund beneficiaries as part of the Fund’s Preparing for Transition activity. Up to 20 next generation farmers will be brought together to share their aspirations for a career in farming, including sharing plans to develop new enterprises on the family farm, opportunities as a partner in the family business, or how they are starting out in a farming career.

These farmers have been supported by the Fund either through its grant funding for projects run by the Farmer Network and Foundation for Common Land, or as participants in The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme.

Catherine Dixon, Chief Executive of Askham Bryan College said: “We are looking forward to welcoming The Prince of Wales to our hill farm. Our students are the future of upland farming and they are excited about demonstrating their new skills. Our Sheep Husbandry Centre incorporates the latest computer technology ensuring that our students can learn the tradition of upland farming whilst incorporating modern farming techniques. The Prince’s interest in uplands farming is well known and we do hope that he will enjoy what will be a very special day for us.”

The latest technology is a feature of the Centre and includes hand held scanners which record animal data – from weight to any health issues to ear tag numbers. The data can be sent to a central computer point and/or to mobile phone devices and then analysed to inform animal husbandry, improve productivity and also future stocking regimes. In addition, the specially designed feed barriers around the pens can be lifted and closed to assist and monitor stock feeding, again informing animal husbandry and encourage best practice.

The College is the only one in England to own a hill farm. The 168 hectares lie within some of the country’s most difficult uplands with an average rainfall of 66 inches per year. The showcase Sheep Husbandry Centre was built last year (2017) and is versatile and multi-functional. It is currently being used for lambing – up to 440 ewes can be lambed at one time and health benefits of the Centre have already been seen. It has 1,000 sheep including 350 pure-bred Swalesdales hefted to the fell and a herd of Luing cattle.