My name is Grace Keane and I am in transition year in Scoil Mhuire, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. During the school year we have work placement every Monday. I spent nine weeks in Murphy Brothers Agri Store, 10 weeks in our local Suirside Veterinary Clinic and I am currently doing 10 weeks at home on our farm with one of my friends.

In the store, I stocked and priced items. I enjoyed this job for the people aspect. Everyone I worked with was extremely friendly and they would always know the person who walked into the shop by name. I always looked forward to going in there on a Monday.

My second job in the vets was my favourite as I have always loved working with animals. I’ve always been an animal person. I have three dogs, seven cats and close to 400 cows at home, so I loved spending my entire day with dogs, cats, cows and there was even a pig brought into the clinic once.

Most of the surgeries were spays and neuters which I had seen my mam perform before as she is a vet. There was a dog brought into the clinic one day to have his tail docked because he had ‘happy tail’. This meant that the dog was so happy that when he wagged his tail it hit off of everything.

To prevent the dog from hurting himself his tail had to be docked. That was extremely interesting to watch. Other than watching surgeries I cleaned dog pens, fed the animals and sometimes I would have to fill plastic gloves full of warm water to keep puppies and kittens warm when it was cold. I also went out on calls with one of the vets to different farms for sick calves or cows. One day I helped the vet when he was doing a TB test for a local farmer.

Now I am at home working on my own farm with my friend. We start at half eight and feed the calves, clean and fill their water buckets and then we hot wash the milk troughs.

Leftover milk builds up so we have to scrub the troughs with hot soapy water. Dirty troughs and teats can cause a condition called Calf Diphtheria. This causes the calves to get sores in their mouths. We have also helped Dad calve a cow and watched Mam do a caesarean.

Spread of sickness

Recently, some of the calves have been sick, so to prevent the spread of the sickness we have to feed the ones who are not sick first and make sure we disinfect our boots before going into any of the pens. We also put lime down on the floor of the pens of sick calves to help stop the spread and luckily now all the calves are doing a lot better and are much healthier.

If you are in third year and don’t know what to do for work experience next year you should really consider doing something in the farming industry. The three placements I completed all differ in skills, such as being able to talk to new people, being responsible for your own safety and the animals’ safety and learning about animal husbandry, so I believe anyone can have a job in the industry.