21-year-old Ciara Ryan runs a dairy and suckler enterprise with her father Paudie and her grandfather Patrick in Clonlara, Co. Clare.
Although she is a final-year Irish and Media student at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ciara has had a passion for farming from a tender age.
"As a child, I used to always followed my dad around the yard - I used to watch what he was doing, and I tried my best to copy him," she told Catherina Cunnane - That's Farming.
"I started farming when I was about 4 or 5-years-old when I was allowed out around the yard," she added.
Dairy and suckler enterprise
The trio has up to eighty sucklers of breeds Limousin, Belgian-Blue and Parthenaise; calving takes place from February to May with progeny – which are sired by a Belgian-Blue or Parthenaise bull – sold privately as weanlings.
Belleisle Farm is also home to a 120-cow dairy herd – the majority of which are Friesians, Jerseys and Jersey-cross-Friesians.
All heifer calves are retained as replacements, while bull calves are sold from the farm, usually to local farmers.
"I'm responsible for calf rearing, a lot of paperwork and I assist during the calving season which is the busiest time of year. I go to the mart from time to time too.”
Although Ciara is studying a full-time degree programme, she lives at home and farms in the evenings and during weekends. “There are times when farming comes before my college coursework!” she admitted.
“I’m a John Deere fanatic and I enjoy working with machinery. I love being outdoors, not trapped inside a house or office.”
“I get to work so closely with my grandfather and father and that’s something I take great pride in.”
“It can be difficult to find enough hours in the day to get everything done. The main thing is to ensure that all animals are in full health.”
Women in Ag
The 21-year-old joined Instagram under the @belleisle_farm handle in recent weeks, with a view to utilising this platform to provide an insight into her life as a woman in agriculture.
Ciara posts a series of videos and images to capture her daily activities on the family-run dairy and suckler farm. “I want to show everyone what I am interested in and my role on the farm.”
"I would like to think that I am treated the same as my male counterparts. I don’t think I have been treated unfairly as a female in the sector.”
“I believe that women in agriculture have a duty to encourage other females into the sector."
"Personally, I feel that women in agriculture are not recognised for their efforts as much as they should be and that needs to change," she added.
Set to complete her undergraduate studies shortly, Ciara relishes the idea of becoming a full-time farmer, but would not rule other further study or travel.
"I may even study veterinary medicine in the future and I would like to go to New Zealand to work there for a while and to visit other farms.”
"I am enthusiastic about animals and machinery and I love working outdoors - farming ticks all of those boxes," she concluded.
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