Women in Ag: Amanda O'Donnell


‘I don't think that my interest in farming will ever leave me’ - Amanda - an Early Childhood Care and Education graduate

Women in Ag: Amanda O'Donnell

  • ADDED
  • 4 mths ago

‘I don't think that my interest in farming will ever leave me’ - Amanda - an Early Childhood Care and Education graduate

Amanda O'Donnell (26), Listowel, Co. Kerry has been immersed in farming life from a tender age.

Her childhood memories revolve around running the family dairy enterprise with her father John, grandfather Paddy and brother Anthony.

"As a child, I used to go down to the farm every Saturday morning to feed calves with my father and grandfather."

"As the years progressed, my brother and I spent most of our free time milking cows and cleaning sheds - doing every job under the sun!"

Early Childcare and Education

With a desire to broaden her horizons, Amanda studied Early Childcare and Education at IT Tralee following the completion of her Leaving Certificate in 2012.

She is keen to incorporate her farming roots into her chosen career path. "While working in a creche a number of years ago, I brought in a few of our calves for a farm open day."

"I wanted to provide an insight into life on a family farm as a lot of the children in the creche had urban backgrounds," she explained.

Amanda spent one-year teaching junior infants in Dubai last year to build her portfolio. “It was an amazing experience as I played football and travelled all over while I was there.”

"I'm a home bird - my return flight touched down on-time to milk the cows that evening!" explained the fourth-generation farmer.

"I completed the morning milking before I jetted off across the waters." she laughed.

She has since furthered her studies by undertaking an add-on course and will begin a new position in September.

Family Farm

Although she has directed her career in an alternative direction, Amanda still helps out on the family farm.

The O'Donnells milk 80 spring-calving British Friesian-cross-Holstein Friesian cows and have introduced a number of Shorthorns to their herd.

Three stock bulls - a Friesian and two Herefords - share the pastures with the main herd.

Up to twenty replacement heifers are retained annually and are served by an Aberdeen-Angus bull for ease of calving. "The heifers are gradually integrated into the main herd for milking."

Bull calves are retained on-farm for a short period of time, depending on the availability of space.

"Farming can be an extremely difficult lifestyle, so you really have to love what you do."

"The calving season is something that I look forward to every year. Feeding calves and cleaning sheds can be more enjoyable than one may think!"

"I help my boyfriend and his father during the calving season too. It's not a chore for me," she added.

Women in Ag

Amanda admitted that despite advances in technology and mechanisation, some on-farm tasks can test her physical strength.

"It's just a case of boxing smart and improvising to complete the job. My father, brother and boyfriend offer fantastic support to me."

Her brother and father ensure that they have adequate resources in place to allow her to run the enterprise to the best of her ability, when they are away from the farm.

"I have had a very positive experience as a woman in agriculture. I am always been respected whatever I go."

"A lot of people think that farming is a man's world. I don't think that women in agriculture receive enough recognition for the fantastic work they are carrying out," she stressed.

"Don't be afraid and go for it - that's my motto. Women are capable of running farms, but some just don't have the confidence to chase their dream."

Future Plans

Enjoying the variety that childcare and farming have to offer, Amanda is looking forward to the future. "I think I will always be a part-time farmer. I don't think that my interest in farming will ever leave me."

"We take great pride in our family farm as it has been passed down through the generations."

"My father and grandfather have established a well-equipped enterprise and we are optimistic that this tradition will be carried out for many more generations to come,” she concluded.

If you are a woman in agriculture and you want to share your story, email - catherina@thatsfarming.com - with a short bio.

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