After graduating from Applied Biology, I took a year out and began working on a pedigree sheep, beef and tillage farm along with helping on the home farm which comprises of dairy, beef and sheep. As I continued to work more with agriculture my love and passion for agriculture continued to grow.
I decided then to return to the South East Technological University to complete a second degree in Agriculture. The course I chose not only allowed me to expand my knowledge and learn, it also gave me an opportunity to complete a number of practicals and a farm work placement.
This was organised by Kildalton College on a farm possessing an enterprise of my choice and located either in Ireland or from a choice of foreign countries. I decided to carry out my experience on a sheep farm enterprise in Ireland as working with sheep is a true passion of mine.
I was lucky enough to be placed on the farm of John and Shelia Large in Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary. The farm was comprises of 600 ewes and 35 suckler cows. The sheep flock has a variety of breeds and is also a participant in the Sheep Ireland Central Progeny Test or CPT initiative.
The CPT was set up to compare the performance of rams and particular traits. It focuses on identifying the best sheep genetics irrespective of breed. It allows a large number of rams to be assessed in a commercial setting and this information feeds in to an even wider number of animals linked to this breeding.
My farm work placement has been a highlight and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course so far
The process involves artificial insemination of all ewes in the flock over a period of two days with ram genetics used selected by Sheep Ireland. Extensive records are collected. For example, once each ewe lambed, we recorded lamb vigor, mothering ability, ewe milk yield, lambing difficulty, time, date and number of lambs.
This information is all recorded on the Sheep Ireland database. This data is valuable and useful for farmers all over the country. I carried out many other roles on the farm such as feeding, lambing, bedding and general everyday management tasks. Many challenges were also faced which gave me an opportunity to put my knowledge from college to good practice.
The agriculture course at the South East Technology University and Kildalton College has been an enjoyable experience and my farm work placement has been a highlight and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course so far.
On my work experience not only did I receive amazing hands-on experience lambing and managing sheep before and after lambing, I also got an insight into the CTP scheme managed by sheep Ireland. John and Shelia made my experience both enjoyable and educational, from which I gained many new contacts and friends for the future.