A tale of Kaleb, two Caits, and some calves!

5 December 2023

Two agriculture students, who may have struggled to get into the sector as they are not from an agricultural background, have had a helping hand from none other than Kaleb Cooper!

And today – Royal Agricultural University (RAU) students Caitlyn Bartlett and Caitlin Oxton – met the man himself to help him buy some calves at Cirencester Livestock Market.

As part of the formal announcement of the two girls as the inaugural winners of the RAU’s Kaleb Cooper Agriculture Bursary, they joined Kaleb at the market to help him buy two calves – which will join the herd at his farm near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire - before enjoying a lunch at nearby Mole Valley Farmers.

Speaking after the market Kaleb said: “It’s been an amazing day. It’s really exciting to have Caitlyn and Caitlin with me - to introduce them to their first cattle market and actually buy their first cattle.

“I didn’t start bidding on cattle until I was 24 because I didn’t have the confidence. If I can give them the confidence at 19 and 20 then that’s what investing in people and future farming generations is all about.  

“Cailtyn bought a calf for me – and they both had a bid. To see the smile on their faces was great fun. And this is just the start for them – and I hope they enjoy farming as much as I do!”

Caitlyn Bartlett, who is 19 and comes from the village of Brothertoft near Boston in Lincolnshire, is in her first year of a BSc in Agriculture at the Cirencester-based University.

She said: “It was a great experience and amazing to be able to bid. I bid for one of the calves and won which was really exciting. It was the one I wanted – it had really big eyes! I wasn’t really keeping track of the price but I think I spent about £150!

“Coming from a non-farming background, it can be challenging to enter an industry that is often based on what contacts you have so I was really pleased to have been selected as one of the bursary winners.

“This bursary will not only help me to gain further vital industry experience and knowledge through the work placement with Kaleb himself but will really help open up many different opportunities for me in the future within the agricultural sector.”

The two girls were selected from a batch of applications for the first ever bursary which was launched earlier this year at the RAU’s Cirencester campus.

The bursary, which was open to RAU undergraduate agriculture students, will provide Caitlyn and Caitlin with a £3,000 payment as well as the opportunity for a work placement with either Kaleb himself or one of his industry partners.

Caitlin Oxton, 20, from Clifton in Bedfordshire, is in her second year studying for a BSc Hons in Applied Farm Management at the RAU having previously studied at Shuttleworth Agricultural College.

She said: “I’ve been to a livestock market before but only to help with the selling - I’ve never done any bidding. It was a little bit scary but really exciting that he trusted us both to bid. Sadly I was outbid on all the cows that he asked me to bid for but it was a great experience.

“I am delighted to have been selected as one of the winners of Kaleb’s bursary. Prior to enrolling at Shuttleworth, I had no direct experience in agriculture but completing that course, and now studying for my degree at the RAU, has really made me realise that this is the industry I want to work in.

“This bursary and placement will really help to further my experience in the sector. Support like this is invaluable and will allow me to accelerate my plans, whilst gaining relevant knowledge and experience. I am really looking forward to what the future might bring and am extremely grateful to have been given such an opportunity!”

Self-made agricultural entrepreneur and farm contractor, Kaleb, has been working in and around farms since he was a schoolboy and is a passionate supporter of UK agriculture and opportunities for young people to enter the sector.

Launching the bursary to students at the Cirencester university in May he said: “Farming is who I am. Encouraging the younger generation into agriculture has always been so important to me.

“I feel lucky that I knew my path from such an early age and want to help spread that passion and drive. Launching this bursary means so much, as it can support students who want to pursue an agricultural career or who might be struggling to get into farming.”

Kaleb was keen that the bursary was given to a student who came from a non-agricultural background, as he himself did. He said: “Having come from a non-farming background I believe agriculture can be for anybody! I know there’s so much potential for young people to have brilliant careers in agriculture. It should be open to all and especially those who have financial difficulties or are completely new to farming.”

Caitlin Oxton added: “This bursary is a brilliant opportunity to support the younger generation looking to get into farming. Wanting to pursue a career in something that you’ve never had any involvement with can be quite daunting but opportunities like this bursary give you that extra bit of support to get going.”