Alison Daly (23) is a full-time dairy and sheep farmer from Clonard – a rural village in Co. Meath.
She runs the enterprise with her parents – Ned and Jean and younger siblings, Mark – a UCD Ag student - and Sarah – a Leaving Certificate student.
Farming is a long-standing tradition, with Alison being the second-generation of the Dalys to farm on this particular holding which was purchased by her father.
“I was out with Dad milking cows when I was younger; I have never considered anything other than becoming a farmer.” Alison Daly told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
Dairy and Sheep Farming
The Daly family ventured into dairy twenty-five years ago and farm over 200-acres. They are milking 100 cows - which are 70% Holstein-Friesian and 30% British-Friesian - as part of a grass-based spring-calving system.
They retain their own replacements, while bulls calves are retained on-farm for a period before they go under the hammer at Carnaross Mart.
Alison’s father is a trained and licenced AI technician; she hopes to complete a course in the foreseeable future. High-EBI bulls are utilised, with some cows served to Aberdeen-Angus and Hereford bulls; a Limousin stock bull is used to mop up the remaining cows.
In addition to their dairy enterprise, the Dalys also have a 100-strong sheep flock, the majority of which are Beltex and Kerry Hill, with intentions to reduce numbers.
Alison also farms in her own right, purchasing and rearing a number of heifer calves annually; a number of these are sold at a local mart; she has also relief-milked on various enterprises over the past five years.
Alison graduated from Waterford IT in May-2018 with a BSc (Honours) in Agricultural Science.“I am passionate about farming; being inside 24/7 is not me and that is why I made the decision to come home to the farm.”
She hopes to utilise the knowledge gained through her degree to improve the family farm; the aim is to make the enterprise as efficient as possible by grass measuring and engaging in other practices.
“I enjoyed the WIT course as it is very practical. You can develop a close relationship with lecturers because of the size of classes and you are never afraid to ask for help.”
Alison travelled to New Zealand in third-year to work on a 1,400-cow farm as part of her work placement module; she remained at Kolmar Dairies - which operates a high-input, high-output system - for five months.
She also spent two summers undertaking internships - one with Macra na Feirme, while she also gained experience at the National Cattle Breeding Centre (NCBC).
Women in Ag
Being a female farmer has never been an issue for the 23-year-old who feels that most people appreciate women’s contributions to farms.
“I have never really had an issue going onto farms, or into vet practices or agri stores, people know me.”
“I know some women are not treated the same as their male counterparts; it just depends on what farm you go to and what individual you’re dealing with.” She added.
Alison acknowledged that while machinery and advances in technology have made farming easier, challenges exist so it is, therefore, important to seek assistance when required. “Being a man or woman in agriculture, you always need someone; you can’t do it on your own.”
“You need to know yourself and know your boundaries, at the end of the day your health is your wealth.”
Alison joined Longwood/ Killyon Macra during her Leaving Certificate year when she was 17-years-old; she is now its P.R.O but has held numerous positions.
She was involved in W.I.T Macra and held the position as chairperson for a twelve-month period; she was involved in the organisation of the WIT’s first Ag day which saw the group raise funds for two charities - Pieta House and Embrace FARM.
“My mother and father met through Macra, so we are Macra babies! Macra was always talked about in the house, so I decided to get involved.” She explained.
Alison said that the rural youth organisation – which supports the social and personal development of young people aged between 17-35 – has improved her confidence and allowed her to form friendships.
She has participated in several competitions including the Queen of the Land Festival 2018 and the International Miss Macra Festival.
“Farming can be lonely at times, so it is great to have this outlet to meet other like-minded individuals. It is important to have fun.”
“I have enjoyed taking part in these competitions as I have crossed path with people who I share the same passions and interests with.”
Looking forward, Alison said she would ideally like to secure a part-time job in the Ag industry, whilst continuing to run the family dairy enterprise.
“With science and technology at the forefront of agriculture, there are so many avenues available.”
“I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and making my mark as a woman in agriculture,” Alison concluded.
If you are a woman in agriculture and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and you may be featured on That’s Farming next week.