Farmer makes award shortlist

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A Westbury farmer has made it on to the shortlist of this year’s prestigious M&S Farming for the Future awards.

George Coles, from Red Oak Farm, will find out if he has been crowned winner on the first day of the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells, Powys on July 18.

George has been nominated for the Innovation Award for his production of beef at Red Oak Farm, as part of Owen Farms Ltd, which he supplies to M&S through Dawn Meats.

The commercial herd at Red Oak Farm is a mixture of Hereford, Simmental and Aberdeen Angus-cross cattle and numbers around 120 breeding animals.

George is currently working to expand the herd to 200 breeding cattle and also to develop a pedigree red Aberdeen Angus herd.

Under George’s direction, the farm has also undergone considerable investment, with a new buildings complex and handling systems put in place to allow room for future expansion. To maintain the high health and welfare of his cattle, he has embraced new technologies and has recently purchased a thermal imaging camera to help him locate problems with his cow’s feet and hips.

This allows for faster identification of problem cows, targeted treatment and reduction in the use of antibiotics.

George is also keen to improve his own approach to cattle rearing, and is an active member of three beef discussion groups.

M&S Farming for the Future champions sustainability and innovation.

M&S head of agriculture, Steve Mclean, said: “We are continually impressed with the commitment and passion our suppliers show towards sustainable farming practices and, with such strong talent emerging within the industry, the judging process for our awards becomes more challenging every year.”