Two agriculture undergraduates at University Centre Reaseheath have celebrated success in the prestigious Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) Awards 2021.
Hannah Morten, who is in her final year of a Foundation Degree in Agriculture with Dairy Herd Management, was runner-up in the RABDF Farm Health Management Award (University Category), while fellow undergraduate Ben Broughton was one of seven finalists in the RABDF Dairy Student of the Year.
Both national awards attracted bumper entries which were described by head judge and award chairman John Sumner as among the best the RABDF had ever received – and very hard to separate.
The competition took place virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions so sadly Hannah missed out on her formal certificate presentation at Dairy-Tech and Ben was unable to give his presentation and interview live at the Farmers Club in London. But both agreed that their achievements were a highlight in a challenging year and would stand them in good stead for the future.
The RABDF Farm Health Management Award, sponsored by Volac, tested the candidates’ knowledge on the importance of proactive farm health management – a key element of the new Agriculture Act.
Hannah, who lives on a mixed farm and works for pioneering animal genetics company Genus ABS as a Reproductive Management System (RMS) Technician alongside her studies, focussed her 1,500 word essay on mastitis and lameness in dairy cows.
Using the knowledge gained through her degree and through personal experience, she outlined a successful approach to health planning and its positive effect on animal welfare and farm business profitability. The judging panel scored her highly for relevance, research and presentation.
Hannah said: “I was surprised but delighted when I heard I was runner-up in the category. I enjoyed looking into health planning and highlighting how even small changes can have a big impact on the health, yield and profitability of a milking herd.”
For the RABDF Dairy Student of the Year Award, sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers, Ben Broughton had to complete a demanding two-tier competition aimed at modern dairy farmers who understood their industry and how best to apply farming methods to achieve optimum results. Apart from demonstrating academic strengths, candidates had to prove they were up to technical and management challenges and had a good understanding of the wider issues affecting the industry. Judges were also looking for ambition and potential career progression.
The first tier required a detailed response to a dairy farm case study outlining practical solutions to improving herd performance, technical efficiency and financial output. The finalists then had to give an on-line presentation about how their industry might need to change to meet future demand, followed by a zoom interview with judges.
Ben said: “For the final I suggested ways to increase transparency which would highlight to the public what a good job farmers do. I also discussed ways in which the industry could be more sustainable and efficient, such as by sharing equipment and increasing home grown feed crops.
“It was a good experience and I received useful feedback from the judges about ways to fine tune my on-line interview.”
Course Manager Tom Furness said: “I am very proud of my students’ achievements, particularly in such a challenging year. They are both very talented and hard working and have great futures ahead.”
Last year Foundation Degree in Agriculture with Dairy Herd Management undergraduate Olivia Edgerton was runner-up in the RABDF Dairy Student of the Year Award.
RABDF is the sole UK charity focussed on the unique needs of milk producers and the only dairy organisation representing farmers that holds a Royal Warrant.
For more about our agriculture degrees see www.ucreaseheath.ac.uk/courses/agriculture