Every year, the senior participants from our Youth Development Programme get together for our Senior Conference which features an array of informative guest speakers and sessions from in and around the breed, helping them build their knowledge and experience as they look towards their future careers in the industry.
This year’s three-day event took place in the Banbury area of Oxfordshire in England, kicking off with a visit on the Friday to Dawn Meats at Dunbia, Cardington, Bedford. Huge thanks must go to Sarah Haire and Mark Allen and all at Dawn Meats for sponsoring the Senior Conference once again, and providing such great insight into their operations in what was an extremely valuable and informative visit.
Once booked into the hotel in Friday evening there was a presentation from Ella and Meg from Vets from The Drove Veterinary Practice which was full of their experiences and tales from being young vets in practice, along with helpful herd health advice.
On the Saturday, our participants headed to Paul and Kirsty Westaway’s Melview Farm in Dymock, Gloucestershire. We received a great tour of the farm and detailed insight into the Melview operation that Paul and Kirsty run from their home in Dymock – a big thank you to them for being such welcome hosts and for providing an excellent lunch which went down a treat. The Saturday at Melview featured a number of guest speakers covering a series of topics:
- Alex Brown and Emma Steel from AHDB provided some great insight on genetics and EBVs
- Grassland consultant Marc Jones hosted a workshop on rotational grazing
- Clive Davies educated the participants on suckler cow condition scoring
- Paul Westaway provided a detailed and informative presentation on adding value to his farm
After a great day at Melview, the team retied to the hotel in Banbury where Rob Havard provided an excellent presentation on holistic organic Aberdeen-Angus herd on which he uses a Mob grazing system. Rob’s presentation was highly insightful, and it was great to learn about his interested and calculated approach.
Sunday morning came around and the team headed to the Glympton Herd for a management discussion followed by some stock judging of pedigree heifers and males for slaughter. A big thank you to master stock judges Alex McLaren and Terry Ives along with herd managers Trevor and Vanessa Kirk – another great day for the participants with a lot learned.
All-in-all, the 17 youngsters who attended the weekend were incredibly inspiring with their engagement and enthusiasm for all the workshops and presentations. The guest speakers and contributors commented on how impressed they were with the calibre of all participants, thoroughly enjoying the experience throughout.
Participant Katie Meston had the following to say about the event:
‘’The Senior Conference has given me the opportunity to visit some amazing herds in Melview and Glympton and meet people that I might never have otherwise gotten to meet, opening new windows and potential opportunities whilst boosting my confidence at the same time. It’s opened my eyes to upcoming new technology, trends and opportunities, not only within the Society, but the industry as a whole. For anyone debating whether to attend, I would say, not only do you get to expand your knowledge and talk to like-minded people, you get to have some great fun with laughter all along the way, making new lifelong friends. ‘’
Congratulations and well done to all involved – we look forward to next year’s event already!