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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Work underway on £2m Newton Rigg dairy project

Work has now begun on a £2 million pound dairy unit at Newton Rigg College.

Newton Rigg photo
From left, students Natalie Errington, Andrew Bell and Jessica Sewell

The project will see cows return to the college’s Sewborwens Farm for the first time since the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic.

The major milestone is part of a £3m investment programme for the college.

“We promised to bring back the cows and return agriculture to the heart of the college,” said Liz Philips, chief executive of Askham Bryan College, which took over the running of Newton Rigg from the University of Cumbria about 18 months ago.

She added: “Seeing the diggers here is a wonderful sight and is the culmination of months of anticipation, planning and sheer hard work.”

The unit near Penrith will comprise two buildings – the cubicle house, and the parlour with handling and teaching facilities including observation galleries to assist students’ studies.

The unit will also incorporate the latest environmental technology, including solar panels and rainwater collection.

“The facilities will provide the highest standards of teaching for the next generation,” said principal, Wes Johnson.

“This project is the first big reinvestment for Newton Rigg and the first big investment into farming in the area,” he added.

College bosses predict work on the new dairy unit, which incorporates two buildings, will be finished in around six months time.

“Ideally we need it ready for our Level Three diploma agricultural students at the beginning of September,” said Mr Johnson.

“There will be two sheds with a high walkway dividing them. Students will have hands on involvement in milking, calving and looking after the animals,” added Mr Johnson.

Dalston vet David Black and a group of local farmers had a say in the design of the new dairy.

“There will be zero tolerance to endemic diseases such as lameness, mastitis and infectious illnesses, with strict bio-security and health plans in place,” said Mr Black, a member of the Newton Rigg committee and Askham Bryan Corporation.

He added: “It will be built to the highest standard of animal health and welfare possible – and work upwards from there.”

Jonathan Fisher, farming manager at Sewborwens, said it was a landmark day for the college.

“We haven’t seen cows here on the farm since foot and mouth, so this is a hugely important day for us,” said Mr Fisher.

Construction work is being carried out by Carlisle-based Cubby Construction.

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