George Coles of Red Oak Farm in Westbury, Northamptonshire was the runner up in the Outstanding Producer Award for Innovation at the M&S Farming for the Future Awards. The awards ceremony was held at the Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells, Wales.
The M&S Farming for the Future Awards recognise farmers who show the utmost dedication to farming sustainability. The Outstanding Producer Award rewards farmers who show dedication to the 4 E’s – Efficiency, Ethics, Education, and Environment.
Red Oak Farm is a supplier to Dawn Meats’ Cardington facility in Bedfordshire. The farm works a combination of grassland and arable crop production, and a 120 strong beef herd. Coles plans to expand the herd to 200 breeding cattle, and is developing a pedigree Red Aberdeen Angus herd using imported embryos from Argentina.
Coles has embraced new technology as a means of improving the health, welfare and productivity of his cattle, such as a thermal imaging camera for early identification of hip and foot problems in cattle, allowing for targeted treatment and lower antibiotic reliance. He has also employed use of the Moocall alert system which provides him with advance notification if a cow is calving. This system uses a sensor attached to the cow’s tail to alert the farmer by text message when a cow is about to calve, ensuring that he can be present and of assistance if required.
Coles is committed to constantly improving his own knowledge of sustainable beef production and is an active member of three beef discussion groups. He is a member of the AHDB Better Returns Programme, and has hosted several events for AHDB Beef & Lamb at Red Oak Farm. He has also pioneered the use of a new cordless vacuum pump for milking, which allows farmers to milk cows quickly without risk of being kicked, and hopes to offer this product for sale in the UK market shortly.
Commenting on the award, Mr. George Coles, Red Oak Farms: “It is an honour to be runner up in the Outstanding Producer award category on behalf of Red Oak Farms and Dawn Meats. It is extremely rewarding to see the progress that can be made in cattle farming by embracing new technology and investing in our most valuable assets, our livestock. I have always believed in the need to innovate to ensure the farm is as productive and as successful as possible, and I am very pleased to see our efforts recognised today.”
Commenting Mr. Isla Roebuck, Operations Director Dawn Meats (UK): “George Coles is worthy of the recognition he has received in this award, and exemplifies exactly what we look for in our beef supply chain. Sustainability is essential to the future of agriculture, and we are very fortunate to work with suppliers like Red Oak Farms whose principles and commitment to innovation and sustainability are in line with our own”