Watching her father and grandfather farm inspired Naomi McCloy to follow in their footsteps.
The 21-year-old takes great pride in the family-run enterprise - McCloy Farms - a sheep, dairy and beef operation. "Working as a family on the farm helps to get every day-to-day tasks completed,” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“Farming is enjoyable in the sense that every day is different because we have a mixed enterprise so we are never idle.”
The Co. Antrim native helps out on the farm and works in Fenaghy Veterinary Clinic as a receptionist – a position she secured in December 2018.
Floating between its branches in Ballymena and Antrim, Naomi’s duties include administration, booking appointments and assisting veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses when required.
“As a child, I always wanted to work in a vet’s practice, so never give up on your dreams!” said the third-generation farmer.
“Meeting and getting to know clients are among the most enjoyable aspects of my off-farm position.”
McCloys’ 168 Holstein cows pass through two A4 astronaut Lely robots and a Delaval 10-aside swing-over parlour. “We installed robots mainly to create more time for the beef and sheep side of the farm.”
“My dad is still fond of the old-fashioned ways and still prefers to milk in the parlour.” Naomi admitted.
The Antrim farm is also home to a 300-strong beef herd; cattle are housed in the autumn and winter months and are turned out to pasture in the spring and summer.
They aim to slaughter animals when they are approximately 36-months. “The cattle are fed silage and beef blend when housed and also receive concentrates when grazing.”
“This may avoid a chase around the field when it comes to herding at the end of the grazing season.” laughed Naomi.
Naomi and her family also farm 250 sheep – mainly Texels and Suffolks. “All sheep and lambs are outside grazing at the moment; lambing 2019 has drawn to a close – it is one of my favourite parts of the year.”
“Once lambs are between 3-4-months-old, we start weaning them and they are fed before being slaughtered.”
“Helping sheep give birth and watching the lambs grow are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
Women in Ag
‘Get stuck in and don’t be afraid’ is Naomi's motivating mantra that has been responsible for the journey she has undertaken to date.
“Since day dot, I’ve been raised on the farm helping complete many tasks between milking cows, lambing sheep and standing in many gaps when moving cattle or sheep.”
“There are plenty of jobs a man can do which a woman can do too.” she added.
She said the use of social media – Facebook and Instagram, in particular – play a key role in raising the profiles of women in ag. “Watching other females farm proves that we can successfully carve out a career in this field.”
“More and more farmers are studying agriculture-related courses at third-level or going into the agricultural industry as time progresses – this is great to see.”
Speaking about her future goals and aspirations, Naomi is “happy working in the vets and helping out on the farm.”
“I have no plans set in stone, but then again farmers change their minds frequently!” she laughed.