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And in addition to the University’s own students last year the farm also hosted an international summer school visit with 15 overseas students visiting for one week to look at farming and vet practise in the UK.


But having students and other visitors on-farm regularly does present challenges, with Health Safety being a primary concern. “The onus is on me to make sure Health and Safety is right and we are regularly checked. Vet students are the least safe sector of the University, so it is important to take all the steps necessary to reduce risks.” Having been herd manager at


Woodpark Farm for 11 years, John has been able to develop the herd with type in mind while also ensuring the herd remains commercially viable. The herd, which is run on 200 acres at Woodpark with a further 100 acres rented or contract grown, has been a closed herd since 2000.


“I aim to breed a medium sized, functional cow with good locomotion, udders and strength. Semen is predominately purchased from Cogent, Genus and Semex with occasional purchases from Alta. We have worked closely with World Wide Mating consultant Rob Braithwaite for five years now. He scores the


John Cameron,


University of Liverpool’s herd manager finds sharing knowledge very rewarding.


cows and runs them through the programme for corrective mating and to avoid inbreeding.” Sire selection is focussed on type first with legs, feet, chest width and udder traits the main focus. “I look at type first when purchasing semen, then they must have positive butterfat and protein, although I’m not looking for a lot of milk.”


Sires currently being used in the herd include Camelot, Petti, Franchise, Glauco, Bacardi, Baloo, Mogul and Wyman. The herd calves all year round, with heifers housed from 12 months old with an aim to serve at 13 months old and 400kg. Calves are hand fed milk and are then fed concentrates and haylage up to six months old and then move on to TMR.


“We only serve to natural heats as we find this works best for our all year round calving, with five heifers a month calving. Heifers are served to sexed semen and after they are confirmed in-calf they are given an iodine mineral bolus and run outside until after Christmas.” Cows are milked three times a day through a GEA West Falia 24:24 parlour, a decision that was made five years ago to make the herd more efficient, with production increasing by 1500 litres on the same feed ration. The herd average is now 11,400kg at 3.8%bf and 3.1%p with a calving interval of 405 days and 120 SCC. The voluntary waiting period for cows is 50 days with a 71 day average to first service and


Knowledge is shared on a wide range of practical farming techniques.


Students are employed for evening milkings which gives them extra practical experience.


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