Staff and inmates at a correctional centre in the Hunter who are taking part in a cattle-breeding program are hand-raising an orphaned calf.

Ferdinand, the black angus cross, was discovered shivering in a paddock and is now living in a stable and being bottle-fed back to health by the inmates at St Heliers Correctional Centre at Muswellbrook.

The calf which was found on a freezing cold Saturday and was undernourished and skinny now received three bottle feeds a day from the inmates who are all taking turns nurturing home back to health.

Governor Louise Smith says caring for livestock is a new experience for many inmates who come from the city.

“The skills they learn set them up for future agricultural employment.

“Inmates learn basic animal husbandry skills, fencing and pasture-management skills, drenching and how to manage the welfare of these animals,” Ms Smith said.

St Heliers Correctional Centre is a minimum security facility for male inmates which provides work and training opportunities in a number of trades including farming, engineering, and construction.

The site has a history as a working farm dating back to 1945 when it was established by the Child Welfare Department where boys aged 14 to 18 were sent to benefit from training for rural and farm work.

St Heliers Manager of Industries Col Austen says up to 25 inmates at a time take part in the cattle breeding program.

“There are four bulls and 250 head of cattle to manage.

“Inmates take ownership of their roles and they get paid for their work, which builds their self-confidence and gives them a sense of pride.

“The 500-hectare prison farm also produces vegetables, including a current crop of 6,000 broccoli plants which are processed and distributed to feed inmates across the state,” Mr Austen said.

Pictured: SAS Michael Bullock with Ferdinand
Image: Supplied