Students With Lambs

Lambing 2024: Staff and students celebrate a successful lambing season at Hartpury

Staff and students at Hartpury University and Hartpury College are celebrating a successful lambing season, during which 220 ewes lambed in just four weeks. Hartpury's satellite farm, Okle Clifford is now home to 425 healthy lambs, alongside their mothers.

As they do every spring, staff and students pulled together to help around the clock. College students help with lambing as part of their academic timetable, gaining valuable first-hand experience in all aspects of lambing from delivery and new-born care, to tagging, tailing, turn out and record management. Students can also volunteer in their free time if they have a particular interest in sheep farming.

Students studying a range of subjects, including bioveterinary science, animal management, welfare, and behaviour, as well as equine science, all gave their time to help with lambing. Jay Coverdale, a former Level 3 Countryside Management and Game student at Hartpury College, also returned for two weeks to work the night shifts.

Meg Lawrence, Livestock Manager at Hartpury University and Hartpury College said: “The weather has been challenging this year but we’re very happy with how the lambing season has gone - it’s also been the quickest season I’ve been involved with, with 96% of ewes lambing in just three weeks. A lot of sheep farmers have suffered the effects of the Schmallenberg virus, but we’ve been lucky enough to avoid this, thankfully."

The farm has made several changes with how the lambing shed is managed this spring, and these have had a very positive effect on the sheep, staff, and students. Changes have included brand new pens that are a square foot bigger and made of metal rather than wood. Meticulous preparation around hygiene has helped to keep the sheep and lambs healthy and happy.

Meg adds: “There has been an abundance of help from students right across campus and that’s made a huge difference. Whether it’s checking on silage and water, sweeping the shed or catching the ewes and lambs, each student plays a key role in our wider team during this time of year.

“We’ve trialled some herbal leys (temporary grasslands made up of legume, herb, and grass species) this year and the sheep and lambs seem to love them, and they’ve kept the ground a lot drier due to their deeper tap roots. As the flock of Highlanders is new to us this year, we are experimenting with different breeds of rams and are looking forward to seeing how the lambs perform as the weather (hopefully) improves.”

Hartpury has worked closely with Innovis Breeding, using four of their rams including a pure Highlander to produce replacement ewes and build the flock, an Aberfield SR, also for replacement ewes and both Aberblack and Abermax rams.

Studying agriculture at Hartpury University and Hartpury College

Hartpury has a 380-hectare award-winning farming business across a total of five rural sites. The main 72-hectare Home Farm is on campus, with four other farms nearby. The commercial focus of all farming activities provides plenty of opportunities for students to gain experience alongside their studies, whether studying a college diploma, undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.

In addition, college students benefit from facilities such as the Agriculture Digital Studio, launched in May 2023. The studio is a dedicated industry-facing space where future technologies in agriculture can be explored through agriculture simulators and VR headsets. An Agri-Tech Centre and Tech Box Park, situated next to Home Farm, form part of the Digital Innovation Farm, and allow all students wishing to explore career paths in areas of agri-technology.