“Some of my fondest memories include helping to rear calves and watching them become the new cows of the herd.” Chloe Dreaper-Eyre explained.
The 20-year-old and her family run a dairy and suckler enterprise in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway; they also own a number of Connemara ponies.
The farm – which comprises of over 160-acres - is steeped in family tradition. “My interest in farming was sparked by my grandad; the knowledge and skills he had have been passed down from generation to generation.”
“I have a great love for agriculture. I love when calves are born; this shows all the hard work during the year has paid off.”
Forty-five British Friesian/Holstein cows form part of a grass-based system, with a concentrate input of 4.5kgs/cow/day; all cows and heifers are served by a British Friesian bull.
All progeny are retained on-farm – heifers are kept to become productive milking cows, while the bulls remain on the holding until they are 12-15-months-old.
“We had considered retaining the bulls from last year and finishing them, but with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and poor factory prices, this does not seem feasible,” Chloe told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
The Eyre’s suckler herd consists of Limousin and Belgian Blue breeding females along with two pedigree Limousin stock bulls.
“Due to the decrease in profit from this enterprise, we have reduced the size of our suckler herd.” The fourth-generation farmer explained.
Some heifers are retained as replacements, while bulls are generally sold in a local mart as weanlings.
Chloe assists her parents in the general day-to-day running of the farm and juggles this with her full-time studies. Her responsibilities include feeding, calf-rearing, calving cows and assisting with routine dosing and administering vaccinations.
“Unfortunately, my Dad received the news back last August that he had cancer.”
“Dad is undergoing chemotherapy so my mother, sister and I have a lot more of the responsibility at present.”
Chloe is a third-year Bio-veterinary Science student at Athlone Institution of Technology (AIT); she enrolled in the course following the completion of her Leaving Certificate.
“I selected this course in fifth-year as I have always had a keen interest in the outdoors and animals.”
The level-eight degree programme is designed to produce bio-veterinary scientists who play a part in the promotion of animal and human health and welfare.
“This is a relatively new degree programme; the first of our graduates entered the working world last year.”
Students complete modules in biology, anatomy and physiology, large animal husbandry, bioveterinary parasitology, microbiology, animal behaviour and nutrition and ecotoxicology.
“From this range of modules, it is clear to see the broad spectrum we fit into.” She added.
“The highlight of the course so far is the friends I have met, and also getting to learn about aspects of farming that I can apply in practice.”
Chloe applied for work experience at Arrabawn Dairies in her first year of college; she spent four weeks in the firm’s laboratory and continued to work there that summer.
“I was delighted to be asked back for the following Christmas. I’m glad to say I now have a weekend job here.”
“As a result of being from a dairy background, I had a keen interest in the testing of raw and finished milk and cream products.”
“I really enjoy this work as it has a link with my love for farming and my area of study.” She added.
Looking forward to the future, Chloe’s main goal is to graduate with a BSc of Science (Honours) in Bioveterinary Science next year.
“I would love to get the courage to go to Australia, for a short while at some stage to explore farming systems in other countries.”
But for now, her main plan is to do well in college and help with the running of the family farm.
Once the 20-year-old graduates, she hopes to pursue a career in animal health or enter the agri-food sector.
“My dream job is to work with animals or in a job that is directed towards them. I’ve had a great love for animals since a young age.” She concluded.
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