Miriam Walton’s farming roots go deep into Irish soil – a tradition that can be traced back numerous generations.
The 22-year-old runs a dairy and beef enterprise under the Glenwalton Farm Ltd name with her family on the Tipperary/ Kilkenny border between Ballingarry and Kilmanagh.
The family (Pat; Kathleen and their children – Miriam; Patrick; Thomas; Aine and Sarah) run a herd comprising of 195 Holstein Friesian cows; 50 maiden heifers and 100 calves - 57 Holstein-Friesian heifers and 43 Herefords (both bulls and heifers) on a 227-acre holding.
Two bulls – A Hereford and Aberdeen-Angus will dominate the pastures this summer, while a Friesian and a Hereford bull were introduced to the genetic pool last year.
Over the past decade, the herd has snowballed in size – Miriam’s father took the reins of the enterprise from his father in 2007, at a time when 80 cows passed through an eight-unit parlour.
Today, 195 cows are milked in a 20-unit Gascoigne Melotte parlour with ACRs, as innovation and technology have combined to bring the operation to great heights.
“Last year, the herd averaged 6000 litres per cow with 47 kg/ms per cow with 25% of the herd 2-year-old heifers. The current herd EBI is €105 according to one of the latest EBI reports.” Miriam told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“I enjoy all aspects of farming but if I had to pick one main area of interest, it would have to be the calves - from feeding them to letting them out to grass for the first time – it gives me great satisfaction.” She added.
Miriam’s striking passion for the Agricultural field resulted in a burning desire to peruse her studies at third-level; she set her sights on Dairy Business offered by UCD but failed to secure a place due to insufficient CAO points in 2014. Miriam accepted her level-7 offer - WIT’s Agricultural Science degree programme and transferred to their level-8 course in second-year.
Students who enrol in the course spend time at WIT (Waterford Institute of Technology) and in Kildalton College, Piltown where a wide range of modules in the dairy; beef; sheep and business disciplines are taught.
“I completed my placement with Teagasc in Carlow and I spend time in advisory and in crop research. By working in both sectors, it allowed me to put what I learnt in modules into practice.” Miriam added.
A Juggling Act
Miriam admits that it can be quite a challenge to strike a balance between academic and farming commitments along with two off-farm jobs - she works at a local vet’s office on Saturday mornings and she is also employed as an FRS relief milker. To hold other interests outside of these disciplines, Miriam has recently joined her local Macra group in Callan.
“Planning is important as every week has to be planned out to see what college work needs to be completed and if I’m working the following weekend,” Miriam said.
“My experience as a woman in ag has been positive. On the relief milking front, some farmers are often shocked when I ring them about milking but they are satisfied with my work when I prove my abilities.” Miriam said.
Looking forward to the future, Miriam will graduate with her BSc (Honours) in Agricultural Science later this year, but she has no post-graduation plans set in stone as of yet. She rules out leaving Irish soil at present but has applied for a number of graduate programmes.
“If I don’t get any of the courses, I plan to find a job in the Agri industry; I would like to work in either a lab or with farmers as I can’t see myself sitting at a desk every day.”
“The hope would be that whatever job I get that I would be still able to help out on the farm. Our intentions on that front are to maintain the herd at 220 cows; to increase cow output and increase herd EBI.” Miriam concluded.
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