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Pupil account of Wood Park Farm visit
The trip to Wood Park Farm was an experience that many in the small group that went would not forget. Upon arrival we were greeted by John and a work experience student, Jess. We went into one of the visitors rooms at the farm and put on disposable overalls on and then began the tour. We were lucky enough to be there on one of four days in the year where the grass silage was being cut and gathered to put into the silage heap to begin the pickling process. We were taken to the field where this was happening and were informed about the whole process, from getting the grass to the right length, to the cutting and harvesting of the grass. After this we were taken into a field full of cows where we were told of the behaviour of the cows, i.e. bulling (when the cow is ready to mate). One thing we learnt very quickly upon being in the field was that cows are very nosy and have no shame or general morals. After exiting the field we went to see some newly born cows, one of which was just 1 day old, and were taught about whether they would stay on the farm or leave. The farm had no bulls on as it can be very risky and expensive. In the adjoining room we went to see cows that were under a special trial that was run in conjunction with University of Liverpool, Leahurst Veterinary Campus located just across the road. At this point we had hands on experience of handling a calf and were taught the correct handling of them and each had the chance to manoeuvre the calf around. We then returned to the visitors centre where we were shown and taught all about the feeding of “A super cow” this included 125 litres of water per day, and 50kg of food ranging from alfalfa to sweet corn and linseed. We were lucky enough to be visiting the farm at the time of milking which happens 3 times a day, 5.30am, 2.30pm and 12am. We saw the cows come in (in their established hierarchy), and then the whole process off the cows being milked. This process included keying in the numbers of each specific cow to count the amount of milk produced, then all individual teats were wiped using a separate wipe for each cow, the suckers where hooked on and the machine started - we could see the milk coming out of the teats. After the milking had finished we were taught about spraying the teats with lactic acid to close them over as otherwise it is possible for the teats to become infected. We went down the row to where a cow had been herded into the crush where we had the chance to put a halter on the cow and also have a real up-close look at her. After being intrigued as to how John would artificially inseminate the cow he offered to describe this to us and then the group went to the office. We were shown charts where the bull could be chosen and then showed us a straw containing the bulls sperm, he then described the process of artificially inseminating a cow (which he was going to do after our group left). We had a look at some more cows that were kept in and also some recent mothers that have their calves taken off them 6-12 hours after birth, he talked us through possible diseases and complications that happen and we had a final question and answer session where we discussed very detailed mannerisms and feeding habits amongst other things.
I (and the rest of the group) think the experience was fantastic! I would recommend it to anyone that is offered it or has any interest in science, maths, engineering or technology! It was an amazing experience and a trip that I would definitely take part in again should the opportunity be offered. Students gained a lot of information from the trip and had hands on experience of things that they may possibly never have the opportunity to do again!! I enjoyed the experience that much that I will be undertaking extra work experience at the farm during the holidays, along with two other students from the College. The group took a lot away from the trip and also had a better understanding of the situation on the farm. My most memorable moment of the trip would be handling a calf, although having other animals I have never come in to a situation where having to handle a cow is needed and I think it was fantastic that I had the opportunity to do such a unique task. Everyone on the trip enjoyed it and I’m sure would partake again!
Ryan Neish 10G