The youngest of five siblings, Seamus Carr lives in the very northern tip of Donegal in Fanad Head, where he looks after the homestead and suckler farm as well as being a full-time student. His parents – John and Bridget were farmers before they sadly passed away and Seamus, as the baby of the family decided to carry on the tradition.
“I was always into farming” said Seamus, “I loved having my own pet lambs to look after from about the age of six”, he recalled.
The Carr children were encouraged to get a good education and careers, and this is what they all did, except Seamus was the only one to keep an interest in farming. “I think a farm kind of falls to you, if you stay interested in one way or another.”
The 32-year-old is managing 45-acres of pastureland with 15 of those acres being rented. There is twenty cows on the farm and the calving period is within a short timeframe to accommodate Seamus’ career.
His herd consists of 50% Charolais cattle with some Limousin and Belgian Blue types in the mix. The Donegal man has run a stock Simmental bull with them for the past three years and he is very happy with the outcome.
Seamus aquires some sheep at certain times of the year, “essentially they’re very handy in November if you end up with surplus grass”.
Because of his location on the Donegal coast, there is naturally good drainage and he would have dry ground for most of the winter months.
The good quality grass means that his cattle can stay out until the end of October and will be re-introduced to the land by March 1st.
The herd starts calving from mid-February and that will continue for approximately six weeks. “They’re usually finished by St. Patrick's day.
AI was used three years ago, however, a stock bull works best for Seamus’ routine as he is away a lot during the day. “We do use AI maybe once or twice a year, but only with certain cows,” he said.
He started the process of consolidating the calving dates about four years ago. He also used AI that year. Seamus says that the good grass resulted in better body conditioning and it all helped towards fertility.
They also decided to cull some of the herd and then introduced the stock bull. “I find that with suckler cows, if you give them a good supplement of fresh silage, they have more power to calf and can get back into calf quicker.”
In the past two years, Seamus has invested in grassland management and has installed new electronic fences and has put a better paddock system in place.
Seamus just this year completed his degree in Occupational Therapy, but he has yet to finish his thesis. Luckily, he has managed to incorporate his love for farming into this seemingly very different career.
“I did my thesis on farm accidents and the effect that it has on the farmers life afterwards” explained Seamus, who originally spent four years in Sligo IT doing Health Science and Sociology, before attending NUIG for his Occupational Therapy degree.
During the eight years of study, the academic was travelling home every weekend to work on the farm. He also completed his Green Cert in Letterkenny this year.
“I’ve always been into farming, if I had my way, I would be farming full-time, but in a way, I do get to spend time with other farmers, and they find it easier to relate to me”.
Even though Seamus says that there’s “nothing better than farming” as it “pumps the blood in my veins”, he also enjoys studying and is happy that he has the best of both worlds.
The security of a career in occupational therapy that can run concurrently with the operation of a suckler farm is something that Seamus is quite pleased with.
“The work that I put in years ago on the farm is paying off now, in terms of being able to do both study and farming” he said.
He doesn’t find rural life too isolating “even when I was living in a town at college, I would much prefer to live in the country,” said the enthusiastic farmer and Seamus doesn’t plan on leaving it any time soon.
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