The tourist attraction still has its roots in the agricultural tradition

Wales’ main tourist attraction Folly Farm is perhaps best known for its lions and penguins, but staff find the resources of the country’s agricultural advisory service here invaluable.

Pembrokeshire Zoo and Adventure Park Farm Manager Kim Brickell always turns to Farming Connect when she wants to learn a new skill.

“Agriculture is a progressive industry that is changing rapidly, so there is always new science we need to be aware of and innovative and more efficient ways of doing things,” says Kim.

Earlier this year, Kim, born in Pembrokeshire, received the Farming Connect Animal Health and Welfare trophy at Lantra Wales’ annual awards ceremony in recognition of her outstanding commitment to continuous professional development and application. effective from her new knowledge and skills to what she describes as her “dream”. ‘ work

Kim says Farming Connect’s fully-funded e-learning courses allowed her to “keep up to date at my own pace and at my own pace”, which not only increased her skills, but allowed her to pass on that knowledge. to other members of the Foly Farm team.

“The range of support services available through Farming Connect, including animal health and welfare workshops, open days, and the very wide range of farming-related topics that I have learned through online learning has given me new skills and knowledge that I use every day.

Folly Farm covers approximately 200 acres with much of the farmland open to the public. Attracting around 500,000 visitors a year, its world-class zoo is home to over 100 species of exotic animals, birds and many other creatures.

Kim’s role is to look after the health, welfare and general husbandry of the farm’s flocks of rare sheep and goats, specialty breeds of pigs and poultry as well as many small pets.

Although she didn’t grow up on a farm, Kim’s love for the outdoors and animals started at a young age and while she was still sixth she helped out at Folly Farm in her spare time. .

The entrepreneurial family of dairy farmers who made Folly Farm the multi-million pound business it is today quickly spotted his dedication and ability.

After completing her A-levels, she was made a full-time assistant, a role she combined with studying for a foundation degree in animal science at Pembrokeshire College.

Since then there has been steady progression through the ranks of Folly Farm, as assistant supervisor, supervisor and now ‘living the dream’ as farm manager, where Kim, along with a co-manager and a team of six employees, is responsible for the proper functioning of the agricultural and animal part of the business.

She is also involved in the farm’s soil and grassland strategies, two topics she has researched through Farming Connect, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

“We operate a rotational grazing system, which has resulted in improved soil health and fertility through better manure distribution, as well as increased forage after each ‘rest’ period. therefore a win-win situation for us as farm managers and all the stock that enjoys the outdoors.

“Whatever Farming Connect eLearning topic interests you, it’s easily accessible and you know you’ll get the key information you need, presented at the right level, in a clear and concise manner.

“Each interactive module is aimed at people working in the industry, they all take around 20 or 30 minutes to complete and include a quiz at the end which gives you confidence that you have absorbed the information correctly, but if not isn’t, you just do it again,” Kim says.

Over the past 12 months, she has undertaken more than 20 different e-learning modules, combining them with various industry-specific webinars and workshops on what she says is a “need to know.”

She has completed e-learning modules on animal health topics including anthelmintic resistance, biosecurity, stock quarantine and vaccinations, as well as specific diseases and conditions that affect sheep, pigs and poultry.

“I also wanted to know more about health and safety on the farm, because as a manager I need to be aware of the current legislation and directives and encourage my colleagues to prioritize working safely.

Kim says the flexibility of online learning “plus the fantastic bonus that there are no fees involved” has allowed her to use all her free time.

“If there is additional knowledge that I think will help me in my work, I always turn to Farming Connect and my laptop first.”

Kim is a strong supporter of using Storfa Sgiliau, Farming Connect’s online data storage facility which logs all of her DPC activities and achievements, allowing her to identify any gaps in her skills and plan her future. career progression. So what’s next for this ambitious young farmer?

“Sustainable farming is a key focus at Folly Farm and in addition to our biomass system and solar panels, we recycle most waste including nappies and plastic left behind by visitors.

“The next step in my CPD program is to learn what else we can do to reduce our carbon footprint – via Farming Connect of course!”

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