Hartpury staff are shepherding stars

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Two members of Hartpury College staff have proved their pedigree as super shepherds after clinching cup success.

Mike Ford, who is an agricultural lecturer, and his wife Niki, who works in the transport department, recently won the Midwest Cup at Hereford Market for their ewes and lambs.

The couple, who farm 550 ewes, invite Hartpury Agriculture students to their own farm, giving them the opportunity to see another system of sheep production from Hartpury’s own commercial Home Farm during practical sessions.

The Fords won first prize at Hereford with their 10 North Country Mules – the class for 10 white faced ewes and lambs.

Mike said: “This was the champion pen and realised a price of £87.50 per sheep. We were thrilled to see all the hard work we have put in rewarded.

“We start lambing at Christmas and lamb 150 ewes in January, 250 ewes in February and 150 ewes in April. Lambing for such a long period means plenty of early mornings and late nights in the lambing shed, so it was a proud moment among our peers taking the Midwest Cup.

“It’s also great that we’re able to cross over the work we do on our own farm with our roles as Hartpury staff. It’s invaluable for the Hartpury students to be able to come to our farm and compare our operation to the one they see on the College farm to give them a wider view of the industry.”

Throughout March, Hartpury students have been helping to welcome this year’s batch of Spring lambs at the college’s new facilities on Okle Clifford Farm, Highleadon.

The students work in groups over eight-hour shifts for each 24-hour period during the season, and their ‘lambing duties’ include checking for triplets, which then have to be separated and paired with foster mothers. They place ewes and their newborn lambs into pens to ensure mothering takes place and monitor the new families’ progress.

Other duties involve continually checking for new lambs, health checks and feeding and tagging the lambs, with all of the data recorded on a computer. All students have access to members of staff to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

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