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Student’s commitment to family farm and agricultural sector rewarded

Posted 3 February

These scholarship will lift financial pressure, and allow me to focus on my studies, dedicating time to wider reading and research."

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Harper Adams University student Gwesyn Davies from Brecon, Powys, has shown himself as an entrepreneur in the sheep sector and has plans to support his farming business with a career within the poultry sector.

His passion for the industry has helped him secure three scholarships to help provide financial support for his final year of university.

The 21 year-old BSc Agriculture student has been awarded a Jerman Scholarship, a Butchers & Drovers Scholarship and a Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society Scholarship.

The agricultural industry has played a significant part in Gwesyn’s life and has already provided opportunities for him to show his entrepreneurship. The final year student said: “My father is a sheep and beef farmer who has farmed in mid-Wales for over 40 years. His business has evolved from an extensive hill farm to become an increasingly intensive upland farm. I’ve always worked closely with my father on the farm, and this resulted in me developing my own flock of ewes from an early age.

“By the time I applied to Harper Adams, I had 20 ewes of my own, bred and trained several of my own sheepdogs and was competing in the Welsh National Sheepdog trials. I also purchased my own quad bike which I use when working as a contract shepherd for additional income.

“However the desire to explore new industries and the realisation that the sheep and beef sectors are facing challenging times ahead, I decided to complete my industrial placement year with 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) within the broiler industry.

“This placement was quite a departure from my previous experiences within the agricultural industry but I saw it as an excellent opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the sector, learn new skills and gain a better understanding of the poultry supply chain. With demand for food increasing in-line with the ever-growing global population and particular interests in high protein ‘westernised diet’, there will surely be career opportunities for forward-thinking individuals with strong agricultural backgrounds.

“The poor financial returns on the beef and sheep enterprises, and the uncertainty of payment support post-Brexit, has reinforced my belief that my future is in poultry. Although my industrial placement was in broilers, I’ve also gained experience on free-range layer systems and been thoroughly impressed and believe the sheep and beef industry could learn some valuable lessons.”

On receiving the scholarships, Gwesyn said: “These scholarship will lift financial pressure, and allow me to focus on my studies, dedicating time to wider reading and research.

“They provide me with a fantastic opportunity, and could go a long way to helping me fund my career plans.”

Gwesyn will not only graduate this summer with his degree, but also with the accolade of being named a finalist for ‘Farmers Guardian Agricultural Student of the Year 2016’ a great achievement seeing as he was only in his third year at the time.

His nomination came from Tom Lander, Group Agriculture Manager at 2SFG. At the time, Mr Lander said: “Gwesyn was a real asset to the company during his placement year and he has unequivocally saved the company a lot of time and money with two of his many initiatives carried out during his tenure.”

One of the projects Gwesyn carried out was the making of a 15 minute ‘Shell to Shelf’ video. He identified the issue of visitors to the company wishing to improve their knowledge of poultry farming, but admitting people into the farm raised concerns over biosecurity and took a lot of staff’s time. The second initiative was a calf feed trial, which was carried out between two UK leading feed companies.

Mr Lander said: “As a result of Gwesyn’s study, 2SFG has a clear indication of the feed supplier it should use for the calf rearing programme, which will deliver the best financial and quality returns for all parties involved.”

Even though he was working full-time, Gwesyn still continued to support his family farm during his placement.

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