Students at St Joseph’s Mercy secondary school, Navan, Co Meath, have created a device which will assist sheep farmers in rearing pet lambs.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Ciara Finnegan, Erin Gallagher and Fay Kellet Ford said they have designed a 'bottomless bucket', which involves a sensory device installed in a Lamlac milk replacer bucket.

Farmers using it will receive a text when the bucket needs to be refilled, according to the three girls, who say it could be particularly helpful for part-time farmers during the busy lambing season.

The students’ project was displayed at the 58th BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) this week. The event was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.


Ciara, Erin and Fay, who all come from agricultural backgrounds, saw a need to create efficiencies for Irish sheep farmers.

On Ciara’s family sheep farm, the group had noticed that a lot of time was spent checking and monitoring pet lambs, which takes away from other tasks such as lambing ewes.

The students decided to use coding, LED technology and an “Arduino” board to develop a system which monitors the milk remaining in lamb feeding buckets and alerts the farmer to when it needs to be refilled.

Their prototype was developed and tested on the Finnegan family farm and the project was supported by development engineer James Gregson from The Technology Partnership (TPP) in the UK.


Hoping to further their work on the project, the three students say they hope to be able to connect the device to the Wi-Fi, now quite common in many farm sheds that have lambing or calving cameras.

They also want to incorporate software in their invention that will work for farmers with audible and visual difficulties.

They say the bottomless bucket device could also have a role in calf rearing and they hope to be able to work with dairy farmers to investigate.

Ciara, Erin and Fay gave a special thank you to their teacher Ms Bronagh Farrell, Ciara’s father Aidan Finnegan and engineer James Gregson, who they say their project “wouldn’t have been possible without”.

Readers can view this project and many more with an agricultural focus at the BTYSTE virtual event here.

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