Northamptonshire herdsmen jobs at risk after decision to replace farm with ‘beef unit’

Mouton College dairy farm is set to be replaced with beef cattle.
Mouton College dairy farm is set to be replaced with beef cattle.

A working dairy farm at a Northamptonshire college is set to be replaced by beef cattle in a move which could see its workforce greatly reduced.

Moulton College announced it would be reviewing the agriculture course it offers in June in response to the government’s “Agri-Tech strategy.”

As a result a number of herdsmen employed to look after the cattle, which agriculture students use to practise their farming skills, were told they were they may be made redundant by December.

Some herdsmen live with their families on college grounds as part of their contract and feared losing their home too.

But this week the Chronicle and Echo learned the dairy farm, which is one of only nine in Northamptonshire and is far more labour intensive than a “beef unit,” is now certain to be replaced.

A spokeswoman for the college said: “The nature of farming in the county has been changing, with declining numbers of dairy herds and increasing acreages of crops.

“The dairy unit will be replaced by a beef unit with a similar number of animals in total but more representative of farming practices in the county now.

“There will be no impact on the agricultural courses as we are replacing one type of livestock with another type.”

Dairy farming has formed part of Moulton College’s agriculture course since the 1950s.

But the spokeswoman said that three people who work on the dairy unit “have had their jobs put at risk.”

“Two have already found alternative employment,” she added. “And the third will be remaining at the college to work on the new beef unit.”

The college had a herd of 220 dairy cows and is now looking to reduce the number of cattle kept on the farm.

A person close to one of the affected staff members told the Chron there is considerable anxiety among the three at risk of losing their jobs.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “The only thing they know is at some stage they are going to be made redundant.

“The shame is that these guys get up at the crack of dawn to milk these cows and no matter what happens they will continue to do that.

“It’s very difficult for them, but still they have been told nothing.”