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Bicton College apprentice at the forefront of modern milking methods

Bicton College student Billy Edworthy is benefiting from cutting edge dairy farming methods during his apprenticeship.

Billy Edworthy

Billy Edworthy – Bicton College Agriculture

Bicton College student Billy Edworthy is benefiting from cutting edge dairy farming methods during his apprenticeship. Employer and farmer Ruth Jordan of Begbeer Farm near Crediton in Devon has recently installed two robotic milking machines, an initiative intended to aid their workload as they approach retirement. The ‘robots’ were a major investment; with around £200,000 used to purchase and install them as well as build a new shed to house the structure. The rewards are already evident; with fewer man hours required on the farm it is easier for Ruth to manage the overall workload whilst saving money in the long-term.

Employing a Bicton College apprentice is an essential part of the farm’s management and Ruth is very familiar with the scheme, knowing she will benefit from a dedicated worker at a cost that she finds reasonable. Of her latest student, Ruth says: ‘Billy is wonderful. He came to us with limited and varied experience but is a quick learner. It wasn’t long before I trusted him to not only work on his own but to use his instincts and take the initiative.’

Billy was recommended to Ruth by his tutors at Bicton College who are advocates of the scheme. As Jackie O’Gorman, Apprenticeship Manager explains: ‘Apprenticeships give young people a genuine alternative to academic study, and a real path to their chosen career. Not only do apprentices gain technical expertise, they also build those transferable skills that are essential to getting ahead in their profession. It is a fantastic opportunity to train in your chosen field, but receive the vital support from our training officers.’

In the case of Billy, the opportunity to experience robotic milking machines on a working dairy farm is hugely beneficial to his career and he has already been offered full time employment at Begbeer Farm upon completion of his course – although he intends to spend 10 months working in New Zealand prior to commencing his career back in the UK.

The apprenticeship scheme at Bicton College ensures that students gain first-hand knowledge of working life on a farm, helps them to build a rapport with their employer and diversifies their experience. Initially, Billy undertook one day a week with Ruth for a period of one month. This acted as an effective trial for both employer and student. Billy is currently engaged full time at Begbeer Farm with ‘block weeks’ at Bicton College at various intervals.

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