Although Iain Wright (23) did not grow up on a farm, he discovered his passion early in life.
The 23-year-old frequently visited his grandfather’s farm throughout his childhood and worked on a neighbouring dairy farm for many years.
“I used to help out on grandad’s farm during weekends and school holidays; this is where my interest in farming came from,” he told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
Although he had a desire to farm on a full-time basis, the Broughshane, Co. Antrim native enrolled in a construction course in a local college in 2011.
“I hated it [the course] with a passion and went back to work for the farmer I had worked for over the summer,” he admitted.
“It is there that I developed a real passion for milking cows and machinery work.”
In 2012, Iain applied to study a Level-2 Diploma in Work-based Agriculture at Greenmount College. “I attended classes one day per week and spent the rest of the time on the farm.”
He then progressed to undertake a Level-3 Diploma in Work-based Agriculture and graduated in 2016; he then completed a course at AI Services Northern Ireland.
“The course helped me in treatments and dosing of livestock as I hadn’t much experience up until this point.”
“For me, farm tours were the highlight as it was nice to see and hear how different farms operate - a trip to see farms in Scotland was the icing on the cake.”
After the 23-year-old completed his studies, he became a self-employed farm labourer and is working on a 130-cow dairy farm since 2017.
The Holstein cows are milked twice-a-day through a 12-unit Fullwood parlour which was installed last year; further improvements are being made with a larger collecting yard, additional cubicles and feeding space.
Sexed semen and Heatime collars are utilised on the progressive dairy enterprise.
“My duties include milking, looking after cows and young stock, bedding calves, diet feeding, slurry and fertiliser spreading and silage making.”
“I like the variety of work I get to do - particularly working with animals. No two days are the same!”
Iain also farms a flock of thirty Texel-cross, Lleyn and Blue du Marine breeding ewes on leased land since 2013.
Lambing gets underway at the beginning of March and was completed over the course of a fifteen-day period this week.
“A teaser ram was introduced to the pastures for two weeks to tighten the breeding season.”
All lambs are sold at the mart, with the exception of a limited number of superior females which are retained as replacements.
“I am always seeking ways to improve my farming system; this year I am trying paddock grazing.”
“It’s frustrating at times not being able to do the things I would like to because I don't have my own ground and have yearly rentals.”
Looking ahead, Iain’s plans for his own farm include securing more rented ground on a lease and increasing his flock size.
Although the 23-year-old would not rule out visiting other countries to explore their farming systems and practices, he admits that he “prefers to work at home.”
“My long-term goal is to run my own dairy farm someday; however, I am very happy in my current position.”
He stressed the importance of having interests outside of farming; he is a member of Ahoghill Young Farmers’ Club and recently joined a local football club this year.
The young farmer wishes to offer this advice to young farmers: “I would highly recommend attending an agricultural college to gain knowledge about animal husbandry and machinery, for example.”
“Be open to advice from older or more experienced farmers.” he concluded.
If you have a story to share, please email Catherina Cunnane - email@example.com