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Three lucky students win Farm Health Management Awards

Jonathan Bryer of Bridgwater and Taunton College, Francesca Mansfield of Aberystwyth University and Penny Stewart of The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies have been crowned the winners of the 2018 RABDF Farm Health Management Awards.

The presentation was made at Dairy-Tech, Stoneleigh Park, on Wednesday 7 February, where each received a £500 cash prize from competition sponsor, Volac. A certificate was presented to the three other finalists short-listed for the award: Holly Yelland studying at Duchy College, Jennifer Stevens from University of Nottingham Vet School and Rebecca Rainey of Harper Adams University.

Farm Health Management Awards

L to R: David Neville, Volac; Penny Stewart, RDSVS; Francesca Mansfield, Aberystwyth University; Jonathan Bryer, Bridgwater and Taunton College; John Sumner, Head Judge.

Significant changes to this annual competition were introduced this year with three separate categories for students at agricultural college, those at universities and for those at vet schools. The competition was widened so that agricultural students at colleges were judged separately from the university students. The aim was to encourage more college-based students to enter.

It required applicants to write a 1,500 word essay on proactive farm health management - a key element of the Defra/industry Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, and the benefits it brings to animal health and welfare and farm business profitability.

The essays were judged by a panel featuring RABDF Council member and Gelli Aur College farm manager, John Owen; veterinary surgeon Oli Hodgkinson, and John Sumner, dairy consultant and award chairman.

John Sumner commented, “The standard of the essays was most encouraging and it was evident that the candidates had a good knowledge of the most common diseases that affect cattle and in some cases, sheep performance. The candidates had all grasped the fundamentals of proactive health management which was encouraging”.

David Neville, Managing Director Animal Nutrition at award sponsor, Volac said: “We are pleased to support agricultural and veterinary students in this award which brings a focus to the importance of taking a holistic approach to best practice in livestock management. We believe that their heightened awareness towards a proactive approach to farm health management covering all aspects, from housing and nutrition to financial impact, will be of huge benefit in their future careers.”