Students at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus and local sheep farmers are to benefit from new sheep housing and handling educational facilities, thanks to an investment of £825,000 by DAERA.
The new premises will give farmers and students access to innovative technologies and enable them to learn about the very latest sheep rearing and management techniques – in the long term delivering tangible benefits to the Northern Ireland sheep industry.
Among the cutting edge features of the sheep house are handling facilities, including footbaths, a curved race, handling units and equipment to identify, weigh and draft animals, enabling large numbers of animals to be handled safely and efficiently.
The facilities incorporate the latest Sheep EID technology and software to aid management decisions. Also included are flooring systems to provide improved health and welfare of housed ewes and slurry management including tanks, mixing points and flush systems to provide adequate storage and safety for stock and operators.
Furthermore, the sheep house boasts environmentally sustainable rainwater harvesting technology and natural ventilation – helping to reduce overheads and minimise environmental impact.
CAFRE’s Director Martin McKendry has said the new sheep facilities and the education, training and knowledge and technology transfer benefits they will deliver, will help underpin the future of sustainable sheep farming in Northern Ireland: “The sheep industry is worth around £63million to the local economy every year and provides employment to 15% of the farm workforce. The international marketplace is becoming ever more competitive and it is vital, therefore, that we are positioned to equip our students and farmers with the knowledge and skills they need to develop and manage sustainable and successful farm businesses. This new facility will enable us to deliver the very best sheep management training to thousands of young people for many years to come.”
The new building has been constructed with support and advice from industry experts including the UFU, National Sheep Association, AFBI and Glenwherry Hill Regeneration Project.
The new facility came into use this month for student practical demonstration work, preparing ewes for mating. The first sheep are expected to be housed over the forthcoming winter months and industry technology awareness events are planned for later this year.