Hannah Healy may only be 20-years-old, but she has already represented the Emerald Isle on an international stage.
The fourth-generation dairy farmer joined the IHFA YMA when she was 12-years-old and began exhibiting Holstein entries for her uncle at Kildare club calf show.
“This interest quickly turned into a passion and I started attending and competing in agri shows around the country including Tullamore,” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
In September 2017, she was chosen to travel as part of the Irish team to the EYBS in Battice, Belgium. “It was an honour to be selected to represent Ireland and also helped me improve my skills in preparing and showing animals.”
Hannah also represented Ireland at HYB Weekend Rally in 2018, which allowed her to meet liked-minded breeders from across the U.K. and Northern Ireland.
“IHFA YMA provides a great way to meet people who are as enthusiastic about breeding cows as I am.”
“Within this organisation, there are great opportunities available to members.” the North Kildare native explained.
Hannah runs a 30-strong spring-calving dairy herd on a 35-acre holding with her father.
The Healys began breeding Dairy Shorthorns approximately four years ago. “I selected Dairy Shorthorns for their ease of management, superior feet and leg structure, ease of calving, longevity and desirable milk qualities, particularly their low somatic cell count.”
“I find them a highly disease-resistant breed and their docility means that they are very easy to work with.”
“I have a wide range of responsibilities on the farm from the menial tasks of cleaning out sheds and feeding calves, to milking and selecting sires for the herd.”
“My favourite job is milking cows but also enjoy rearing the calves and replacement heifers as it is a rewarding job when you see those heifers calve down.”
Hannah has been passionate about farming for as long as she can remember. “I would always be following dad around the yard and loved helping with the calves.”
“Once I started breeding my own Dairy Shorthorns, I began showing them which helped me to make contacts when looking for bulls or when going to sell any pedigree animals.”
With a desire to pursue her passion for agriculture, Hannah set her sights on Agricultural Science at UCD. She secured a place on the course and branched into Animal Science; she is now in her third year of the four-year degree programme.
“I opted for this course as my interests lie in the animal sector and enjoy learning about animal breeding and nutrition.”
Hannah will begin her 20-week PWE (Professional Work Experience) module in March; this will allow her to attain experience on various dairy, beef, sheep and pig enterprises.
“I would like to get some work experience in industry as well and would find working with an AI company quite interesting.” the Kildare native explained.
Despite her educational commitments, Hannah continues to assist with the running of the family farm and is a regular show exhibitor.
“What I like most about farming is the fact you can see the progress and the results in the work you do. I enjoy the manual labour involved in farming.” she outlined.
Show season gets underway in June and Hannah attends up to six agricultural shows across the country.
“I have been lucky enough for the last few years to qualify for the showmanship league the final of which takes place at the National Dairy Show in Milstreet at the end of October.”
“What I like most about showing is the work prior to show day — I enjoy clipping and training the heifers and the social aspect involved.”
“I’ve never felt I was treated differently than a man would be. I feel like if you’re willing to work and not afraid of hard work, you’ll be treated just the same as anyone else.”
Set to complete her undergraduate degree next year, Hannah’s ultimate goal is to become a full-time farmer. She noted that in order to make this a viable option, the expansion of the home farm will have to be considered.
“I really enjoy the genetics and breeding of cows and would consider working with an AI company for a while after college.”
“Hopefully, I will be able to continue showing after I leave college and continue to improve my stock at home.”
“I think any job in the ag sector will allow you to work with and cross paths with some interesting characters and farming especially will be very rewarding,” she concluded.
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