Aoife Flannery and her family, Puckane outside Nenagh, Co. Tipperary have dabbled in intensive beef production on a large scale for over three decades, purchasing and rearing approximately two-hundred bull calves.
Aoife’s father, the long-standing chief of the operation knows the farming craft all too well and is also a fully-fledged cattle dealer. By attending marts nationwide five days a week, he actively acquires stock for farmers and international exporters alike, along with juggling the family farm spread over 290-acres of predominantly rented land.
With the abolishment of the milk quotas in 2015, a notable surge of interest was expressed by Denis, Aoife’s eldest brother and so the Flannery family took a leap of faith and joined the dairy farming cohort.
“We established base on the home-block and put the horse before the cart and purchased 150 heifer calves in 2015. We began the conversion process in stages; laid roadways; changed infrastructure and constructed the dairy infrastructure.” Aoife Flannery told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“In August 2017, we were ready to roll; we bought fifty in-calf cows and cut the ribbons on the new Fullwood Packo milking machine. The dairy herd is predominantly Friesian-cross Holsteins, with a number of Jersey-crosses” Aoife added.
With a holding counting over 340 beef and dairy cattle, running the show is a family affair for the Flannerys, with all seven members of the family to be found in the yard.
“We have all been involved in the farm ever since we could walk. I have three brothers all who are interested in farming and one sister who is dragged along to fill a gap and give a hand. My mother and father have worked hard together to bring our farm and family to bigger and better things.” Aoife stressed.
“It wasn't until I was in my mid-teens until I actually realised how much I loved farming and the lifestyle it brought with it. Although it can be a tough lifestyle, with long hours, I enjoy how every day varies, with the exception of the morning and evening routines.” Aoife explained.
With her eyes not completely fixed on a specific career path, Aoife embraced her love for Agriculture and popped UCD’s Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree programme as her number-one level-eight choice on her CAO.
“Through my research, I recognised that an Agricultural degree would open up several job opportunities for me. I took a leap of faith and I gained my place on my chosen course in September 2015.” Aoife explained.
Aoife enrolled in the course and is now in her third-year at the college and has is majoring in Food and Agri-Business Management. “I enjoy learning and broaden my understanding of Agricultural. The academic of it does challenge me, but I don't mind putting in long hours of work. By selecting the Agri-Business major, I get an in-depth knowledge of all things agricultural as well as learning the key aspects of the business.” Aoife said.
Aoife, who is class representative for third-years is currently completing a work placement in Liffey Mills, grain and agricultural merchant. “The team have been very welcoming. This placement has granted me the opportunity to deal with the farming community and to learn the trade of cereals; animal feed and all farm merchandise, but it has also provided me with hands-on experience, all of which is very valuable when it comes to farming” Aoife noted.
While Aoife pursues her academic studies, she is hopeful that this knowledge will be the key to pushing efficiency on her family farm. She has intentions to apply to the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship once she graduates with her degree; The Walsh Fellowships Programme provides fellowships to postgraduates to work on research projects relevant to the Teagasc Research Programme while studying for a higher degree.
“I would love to travel and work on farmers abroad to broaden my horizons. I hope to secure a job in agricultural advisor role and long-term, I hope to be in a position to establish my own agricultural advisory business and farm part-time.” Aoife concluded.
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