Kingston Maurward Mellstock Herd of Aberdeen Angus
The college has a small registered suckler herd of pedigree Aberdeen Angus animals. The bull (Gaston Wood Debrett) and three cows have given us some very high quality young bulls. This year we are using one young bull as a dairy sweeper bull, another has been sold through Frome Market.
We have a few beef stores and finishers that are bred from the College dairy herd which are mainly sired by Aberdeen Angus and occasionally Simmental bulls. They are fed during the summer on an extensive system of grazed grass and concentrates. A proportion of the beef animals are sold through the livestock market when they are about eight months old. The rest are semi out wintered and sold as 14-16 month old stores, these are mainly fed on concentrates, straw and round bale grass silage.
A small number of finishers are kept each year to supply College meat cutting courses and private sales through our farm retail outlet, Maurward Meats.
The beef animals provide the opportunity for student practical sessions in moving and handling livestock, they are also used for student qualifications such as the Safe Use of Veterinary Medicines. Our superb purpose built cattle demonstration and handling area provides excellent practical teaching facilities conveniently located next to the dairy buildings.
The KMC herd is registered with the Aberdeen Angus Society where we have the herd prefix name Melstock. This becomes the first name of any calf, male or female, and registered to the college only.
In addition the Aberdeen Angus Society (AAS) has naming rules. Two of our cows have the middle name Proud. This name must follow on for each new calf so all offspring from these cows will start with Melstock Proud. We then choose the third name. Once again we have been selecting names with a link to Thomas Hardy, eg:
Oakhanger Proud Germander H455 =
30.04.12 Melstock Proud Tess (Tess of the D’Urbevilles)
09.04.14 Melstock Proud Sue (Jude the Obscure)
Gaston Wood Proud Bridget J161 =
24.07.12 Melstock Proud Boldwood (Far From the Madding Crowd)
23.07.13 Melstock Proud Grace (Woodlanders)
24.04.14 Melstock Jethway Erica (Mrs Jethway, A Pair of Blue Eyes)
The College flock numbers 400 ewes, predominantly Lleyn with some Welsh Mules.
Mule, Suffolk, LLeyn, Beulah and Dorset Ewes : 348
Lambs 2013 : 574
Replacement Ewes (Lleyns) : 83
Lleyn Rams : 3
Suffolk Rams : 6
Charollais Ram : 1
Lambing usually takes place around the popular “Lambing Weekends” in March, when the lambing sheds are open to the public. See our What’s on Calendar for more details (link to animal park calendar)
Late-night lambing shifts are covered by the students as well as farm staff.
The lambs are kept with their mothers for 16 weeks on permanent pasture. They are then weaned and moved to better grazing ryegrass and white clover silage aftermaths.
The flock provides plenty of hands-on experience for all kinds of students from the full and part time agricultural courses to small holders, schools groups and our Animal Conservation and Welfare students.
Level 3 Agriculture students have the opportunity to gain shearing qualifications with our specially run sheep shearing course in May.
We aim to sell in the region of 550-600 lambs per year, with a target carcase weight of 21kg (42-44kg live weight). Income for each lamb averaged £77 last season. We breed a large proportion of our own replacement pure bred LLeyn ewes, these are identified at birth and will join the breeding flock at about 2 years of age. We tag all lambs at birth, replacement females are double electronically tagged, all other lambs for market are tagged with a single batch slaughter tag.
Most of the lambs are sold to Anglo Beef Processors UK, Yetminster, with a number sold to the public through Maurward Meats.
Our aim is to finish as many lambs as possible on summer grass; remaining lambs are moved onto Vollenda stubble turnips and Greenland Forage Rape. These crops are drilled after cereals in August and strip grazed by the lambs from November; the majority of lambs are sold by Christmas.
We are a host farm flock for the South West Healthy Livestock Initiative. Through this scheme an ADAS adviser and our vet provide targets for improvement and deliver information through meetings with local sheep farmers.
On our outdoor unit we presently have 13 sows which are mainly Saddleback and Large White with 1 Large White boar. We try to keep a simple system and aim to farrow 2 sows each month. Each sow therefore should have at 2 litters per year and on average we aim to sell 8-10 piglets from each litter.
We have purchased a new Large White boar and one gilt this year from the award winning herd of Steve Loveless.
The sows are fed between 2 and 5kg each day of sow rolls, depending on their stage of lactation. The rolls are wheat and soya based (3.5% oil, 7% fibre with 16% protein).
Weaned and growing pigs are kept in sheds at Stinsford yard; in recent times a larger proportion of animals have been sold to local rearers as weaners, the rest are fed ad-lib grower pellets (3.5% oil, 6% fibre, 19% protein), until they reach a target weight of 80 to 90kg (60 to 70kg dwt) at about 25 weeks of age.
Our pork is increasingly being used for cutting courses at the College and sold through Maurward Meats, local butchers and private hog roasts.