Hailing from West Clare, today’s young farmer is a student at Salesian Agricultural College and he has just won an award for the AIB / Teagasc Pallaskenry Ag College Best Farm Business Plan, 2019.
Andrew Naughton was born into a farming household where his parents Patrick and Mary operate a 200-acre holding that carries approximately 200-head of stock.
It was a natural decision for Andrew to complete a Green cert Course in Salesian Agricultural College, however, he then chose to continue his education and complete the Advanced Cert in Dairy-herd Management, of which he has just finished.
Andrew’s sister Aoife has also spent a lot of time working on the home farm; however, her sights are set on a different career path as a secondary school teacher in Co. Clare.
The twenty-year-old’s main drive to do the management course was the association with IT Tralee. He has just been accepted into the second year of the ‘Science and Agriculture’ programme, where he will eventually graduate with a degree.
As a part of his coursework, all nineteen class participants had to complete a project detailing a ‘Farm Business Plan’. The top three projects from the class were picked and those candidates had to take part in an interview with the local AIB Agricultural Advisor.
This was followed by a nomination to represent the Pallaskenry College in an All-Ireland final, between Teagasc, Private Colleges and CAFRE agricultural colleges.
Andrew’s award-winning plan involved detailed a conversion from suckler farming to dairy; the project was extensive and based on his parents farm at home.
“The other nominees in my class were dairy farmers that were trying to improve their production on the farm whereas, I was trying to convert to dairy as well as improving production”, explained Andrew, who feels that this might have given him the edge.
Andrew does eventually plan to put this plan into action at some point in his future. “I will use this plan to work off as it’s a good starting point, but it is definitely something for the future”.
The young farmer said that he would like to work across the agricultural sector for a couple of years before taking up farming full-time, as it will give him a better overview of the entire sector and the experience will be a great advantage to him.
The award-winner can foresee challenges that may be presented when he endeavours to take on a dairy farming roll, both financially and practically.
Milk prices and planning permissions are only two examples that could be difficult to predict, however, the planning project has addressed proposed costs 10 years into the future and that will guide much of the decision making on the farm.
For now, the goal is to move into midweek accommodation in Tralee and spend two years undertaking the Bachelor's degree, with a third-year set aside for a master’s degree.
Despite having grown up on a suckler farm, Andrew insists that dairy is where he would like to work in the future. He has worked as a relief milker during the summer and enjoys the process. “I did both my college placements on dairy farms,” said Andrew.
Both farms were quite opposing in farming styles and this was much appreciated by the keen student. His first-year placement was on Johnny and John Walsh’s farm in Kilbaha and the second-year placement was on Jim Garry’s farm in Ballinacally.
“The Walsh’s farm has almost 200 cows and are very high production, it got me used to calving so many cows in the day, they’re good neighbours and it was a great experience,” enthused Andrew.
“Jim was the opposite end of the scale, he was 60-70 dairy cows, high EBI and good grassland management, and got the cows out as early as possible,” added Andrew, who now appreciates the different styles of farming and has given him a clear idea of how he would like to manage his own farm in the future.
He purposefully picked his second placement to contract the first placement and he is very happy with his choices.
For now, the enthusiastic young Clare man enjoys playing football for his local team Naomh Eoin and will work as a farmer throughout the summer before embarking on the next couple of years studying in Tralee.
Andrew is a focused and disciplined young man who no doubt has a strong career in agriculture ahead of him.
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