Donoughmore, Co. Cork is home to a fifth-generation farmer and third-level student, Anne Kelleher. Anne and her family run a herd of 50-Montbeliarde X British Friesian cows over 42-hectares in the heart of the Rebel County.
This Cork-based operation is a cut above the rest as the family is the helm of their own silage; slurry; fertiliser and ploughing and have placed all their faith in the Montbeliarde breed when it comes to the cattle front of their enterprise. Anne claims that there are several reasons behind the introduction of Montbeliarde genetics to their grass-based system.
“We introduced Mountbeliard blood to produce calves with strong terminal traits. We cross these cows with a Limousin bull which gives the bull calves good size and confirmation. The heifers have good maternal traits and have the potential to make excellent suckler cows.” Anne Kelleher told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“We also had problems with lameness and the Mountbeliards have proven to have excellent feet. They can be a little bit stubborn but otherwise, they are very docile and easy to manage.” Anne noted.
“In the summer, cows are fed 1kg of nuts plus grass. We purchased beet this year to try to stretch our silage; cows received 2 kg of ration in the morning and 5 kg of beet in the evenings.” Anne explained.
Dairy farming paints part of the picture for the Cork family, who also own and manage a sheep enterprise; twelve Charollais ewes now remain due to Anne’s academic commitments. Engaging in the running of the farm is a part-time affair for Anne, who is in full-time education in Co. Meath, a notable distance away from her home-soil in Co. Cork.
Anne studied a four-year BSc Hon Agriculture degree at Cork Institute of Technology and graduated in 2016, before she progressed to undertake a two-year Masters degree, as a Teagasc Walshfellow in collaboration with UCD. As part of her studies, Anne is reviewing wormer resistance on Irish dairy calf-to-beef farmers, which involves participation from commercial dairy calf-to-beef farmers dotted all around the island.
“I monitor the herd level faecal egg counts of these farms until a herd level faecal egg count of 100epg or more is reached. I then go and individually sample and dose the calves with certain wormers and resample the calves after a certain number of days.” Anne explained.
“ I compare the faecal egg counts from day 1 and day 2 using the faecal egg count reduction test to determine whether or not the wormers are working on the farms.”
“Wormer resistance has been confirmed on Irish sheep farms and cases of wormer resistance in cattle have been found in other parts of the world; my degree is trying to determine whether or not wormer resistance is a problem on Irish cattle farms,” Anne added.
Women in Ag
As a young woman making big waves in the world of Agriculture, Anne is quick to admit that her experience in the sector has brought mixed feelings, drawing attention to her time as the only female member of staff at a local Agri co-operative during her first degree.
“ I was told on a daily basis that ‘I was a girl’ and wouldn’t know anything about farming by some of the customers,” Anne said.
“I even had customers totally disregard things I said even if one of my colleagues agreed with me. I found that this negative perception of women in Agriculture came more from the younger farmers; the older farmers always gave me a chance.”
“It was very difficult but that experience has taught me that you have to be tough in this industry and keep pushing through. You might have to work harder to prove your worth but it is all about breaking glass ceilings and proving that us women are more than willing and able than any man!” Anne stressed.
Anne now finds herself juggling life as a farmer and a student, but she has major post-graduation plans. As a second third-level degree in the Agricultural field is the key to unlocking endless opportunities, Anne hopes to continue to carve out a career in parasitology and has intentions to return to her home farm in the not-so-distant future.
“Parasitology is something that I love and it is something that will be very important for farmers in the future - wormer resistance is a real issue facing Irish farmers!” Anne highlighted
“I count myself very lucky that I am able to build my career around farming -the fact that I have been able to merge the two things I love most; farming and science are ideal for me. I don’t think farmers realise how closely farming and science are related.” Anne concluded.
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