Oisin Forde is a fourth-generation farmer from Carheeney Mor, Beagh, Co. Galway.
The 22-year-old once considered studying or working in sports science or strength and conditioning but he was keen to stay true to his farming roots.
“I remember going out in the mornings during my Easter holidays to feed calves with Dad when I was in primary school.” He told Catherina Cunnane -That’s Farming.
“I learned to milk cows on my own when I was 12-years-old; Dad broke his hand and I had to step in.” He added.
The Galway native enrolled in Cork Institute of Technology’s Level-7 in Agriculture degree programme, following the completion of his Leaving Certificate in 2014.
“This course is similar to a lot of Agricultural science courses but it’s more practical. Highlights include the animal husbandry practicals I completed in first-year and our work placement module.”
“I made friends with people from all walks of life, so that was an added bonus; I am still in touch with these people who come from various farming backgrounds,” Oisin added.
He remained at the institution for another year and graduated with a Level-8 Bachelor of Science (Honours in Agriculture) last October.
The 22-year-old has since returned to the home farm – a spring-calving thirty-cow dairy herd.The Fordes farm Holstein-Friesian cows, although they are attempting to incorporate British Friesians genetics into the herd over the past number of years.
An emphasis is placed on selecting AI sires that have good-type and good milk qualities in a bid to breed a strong cow that is well-built and can deliver a high protein and fat percentage.
The majority cows are served to Holstein-Friesian and British Friesian bulls; cows that are in heat late in the season are bred to a short-gestation Aberdeen-Angus or Hereford sire with Belgian Blue semen utilised on an occasional cow.
“We use the aAa method to help with sire selection. It helps narrow down the pool of bulls we like to use and helps match the bulls to the cows that they suit best or that they will create the most balanced offspring with.”
Oisin and his father oversee the running of the dairy enterprise; he also assists his uncle and grandfather with general husbandry on their suckler farm.
“It’s a pretty small farm. Apart from the calving, herd tests and silage seasons, there isn’t too much to be done during the day.”
“Between dad and myself, we get through what needs to get done after the evening milking or at weekends.” He added.
studying a formal degree programme has helped Oisin to make the enterprise more efficient.
“I am using a lot of grass management practices I learned about in college to improve our grass utilisation.”
“I learned how to register calves and fill out medicine and remedy records.” The young farmer who plays for Beagh Hurling team said.
“Don’t be afraid of change or to make a change” – that is one of the Galway man’s main mantras.
“Just because one method works or you're used to one method of operating or doing something, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change or find a method that could be easier or maybe more efficient.”
“Agriculture is an industry that’s constantly improving and making advances in every area.”
“Farmers should not be worried or afraid to move with the times; I think some farmers can be slow to change, particularly the older generation.” He added.
Looking ahead, Oisin’s main aim is to carve out a career in the agricultural sector; he would like to secure a position that would enable him to make a difference for farmers at a local or national level.
“My ideal job would allow me to make a difference in some way whilst continuing to farm at home. I am looking forward to exploring various options.” He concluded.
If you are a young farmer and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and you may be featured on That’s Farming next week.