Dylan is currently undertaking a BAgrSc specialising in Animal and Crop Production in UCD. He completed his work placement in Ireland and the UK.

“As part of my degree programme, I completed nine months of professional work experience across five sectors of the agricultural industry in the areas of pigs, dairy, beef, sheep and tillage.

"In an effort to broaden my knowledge of beef, sheep and tillage production outside of Ireland, a large proportion of my placement was spent in Scotland and England.

Learning on the ground

My placement started at Knockhall pig farm in Rooskey, Co Roscommon. This is an integrated pig unit where I was exposed to all aspects of modern pig meat production. It was here where I learned the fundamentals of breeding, farrowing, weaning and fattening pigs in an efficient and sustainable manner.

The knowledge gained here will stand to me in my final year studies at UCD and into my working career.

Once I finished in Knockhall, I travelled to Tallon Farm in Ardcath, Co Meath, to complete the dairy element of my placement. Tallon Farm milks 1,500 dairy cows and operates a split-calving herd where 60% of cows are calved in the spring and the balance during the autumn. The cows are milked on four milking platforms with a mixture of owned and leased land. I worked here for a six-week period and was involved in all the day-to-day tasks on the farm, like milking, calving cows, feeding calves and some machinery work.

Large scale production

From Ardcath, I drove to Duns in the Scottish border region to Quixwood Farm. This is a beef, sheep and tillage operation where I got to see first-hand a large-scale beef and sheep production system.

Quixwood Farm

I arrived at the farm on 15 March, which was the beginning of the lambing season where 1,800 ewes, a mixture of lowland and horned sheep, were at the point of lambing. Once lambing was completed, the focus switched to calving.

This spring, 1,050 suckler cows were calved with circa 800 calved outdoors. This was a mix of heifers and some purebred Angus and Simmental cows.

All progeny is brought to slaughter with bull beef, steers and heifers being finished annually. Calving went well last spring with weather being favourable for the majority of the calving period.

Outdoor calving meant all tasks were carried out in the field, whether that be assisting calving, tagging or looking after a newborn calf. My main task, during this time, was to check each calving field for cows having difficulty calving and to make sure newborn calves were up and sucking.

I carried out my tillage placement at Mentmore Park Farms, just outside Leighton Buzzard in England. The core services of the business include harvesting, cultivating, drilling, consolidation, spraying and spreading. The farm grows a range of combinable crops which includes wheat, barley, oats and beans in both winter and spring varieties.

This summer, my main role was “Bale Chasing”, which involved delivering straw direct to customers and building temporary stacks of straw that was destined for power stations to generate electricity. CL

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