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Vet School seeks go-ahead for new farm

Press release issued: 5 July 2007

Bristol University’s School of Veterinary Sciences is planning to build a new dairy farm on the A368 Bath Road. It is consulting local residents about its plans on July 5.

Bristol University’s School of Veterinary Sciences is planning to build a new dairy farm on the A368 Bath Road.  It is consulting local residents about its plans on July 5.

Dr Frank Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Equine Medicine and Head of the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, explained: “New technology and the latest developments in farming mean that our Wyndhurst Farm at Langford can no longer offer the modern, hands-on facilities that tomorrow’s large-animal vets must be able to experience in training.  This is unacceptable for one of Europe’s top veterinary schools.”

He added: “At the same time, we wish to play a full part in the sustainable farming initiatives that are developing in the South West. To this end, we need to change radically the way the farm is run both for teaching and research.”

Dr Taylor said the Veterinary School has reached an agreement in principle with FAI Farms Ltd, a commercial farming company which works hand-in-hand with Oxford University. Under the proposed arrangement FAI, will take over the day-to-day operation of the new Bristol Veterinary School farm, with the aim of transforming it into a fully commercial venture and a centre of European excellence.

“The reality is that our farm buildings at Wyndhurst Farm are beyond refurbishment, and we have a potential opportunity to lease land from Sir David Wills, adjacent to our own, which will allow us to develop new facilities to take Wyndhurst Farm forward,” added Dr Taylor.

“We are inviting local residents to come and see for themselves what we have in mind. We value their views and are keen to take them into account before we apply formally for planning permission,” he said.

People living near to Pear Tree Industrial Estate and Blagdon Water Gardens on the A368 Bath Road and the surrounding area will be invited to a meeting at 6.30 pm on July 19 at the University of Bristol’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, North Somerset.

Further information

The existing farm at Langford is more than 50 years old. Although it used to be up-to-date, it has declined over the past 10 years and the existing buildings are not suitable for installation of the sort of modern farming equipment that is in general use in the industry or which represents the future of dairy farming. This means that Bristol veterinary students are not able to gain practical experience of potential problems of modern livestock management. Also, the current dairy farming land is bisected by the A38, which gives great practical difficulties in managing the farm.

The entrance to the proposed new dairy unit is planned to be off the Bath Road between the existing industrial estate and the garden centre. The proposal sites the main buildings so that they have minimal visual impact when viewed either from the road or from adjacent properties. Sight lines will be enhanced by planting trees and establishing new hedgerows, replacing any that may need to be removed.

The herd will be built up to 200 cows, plus followers (young calves and heifers which are waiting to come into the milking herd) and will benefit from a state-of-the-art milking parlour which will contain a robotic milking unit. This lets the cows “milk themselves”, and allows the herdsman more time to check the health status of each individual animal as it comes through the parlour.

To minimise smells, both the dairy unit and the winter housing cubicles will be built over the top of an underground slurry lagoon, which will be ‘bunded’ or sealed to protect adjacent land from any accidental spillage or leakage into the water course, and largely containing smells. The slurry will be extracted periodically, weather and season permitting, and spread, as now, on the farm’s grassland to provide a natural fertiliser.

As well as the dairy unit - cow cubicles, milking accommodation, winter housing and feed stores which will all be at the rear of the site, with silage clamps in the adjacent field screened by woodland – we hope to build a farm manager’s cottage with a tied agricultural use, set towards the front of the site.

Although one field will be built on with the new farm unit, the proposal to create a new University farm will protect the adjacent land from further development and ensure a green landscape in the area for years to come.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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