Working with Grimme on college placement

Peter Dunne is a third-year student in UCD studying agricultural science and specialising in agricultural systems technology. Peter is currently on placement in the UK and working for a company called Grimme.

The Grimme group manufactures agricultural machinery in the field of potatoes, beet and vegetable technology.

Interest in machinery

Despite not coming from a farm at home, the Kilkenny student explained that he has “always had a very big interest in machines and their workings”.

“I spent a couple of summers working for my uncle who grows carrots and potatoes in Laois where I was introduced to Grimme machines. Ever since then, I’ve had a huge interest and wanted to dive further into the internal working of these machines and how they work.”

Peter Dunne, a third-year agricultural systems technology student in UCD, is currently on placement in the UK working on Grimme machines.

On deciding to travel to the UK for his placement, Peter said that he wanted to get out of his comfort zone and see larger machines, which wouldn’t be found in Ireland.

Explaining how he got the placement, Peter said: “I got in touch with Grimme UK and I got offered a place in the Grimme York depot in Market Weighton”.

Day-to-day work

“My day-to-day work is in the workshop working on the Grimme machines, preparing new machines and maintaining machines for the customers.

“Since I started, we have been working on mostly potato planting machines such as destoners, planters, riggers and bed tillers.

“The scale of some of the machines over here is huge compared to what we would see at home. I’ve also gotten the chance to get out to the field to see some of the machines working as well, which was very interesting.

“We usually start around 7am and finish at 5pm. We get the option to work later if we want and also get to work on a Saturday.

“Throughout the day, we have two 15-minute work breaks and one half-hour break.”

“The work environment is very good. All the staff at Grimme are very friendly and helpful. We have great craic on our lunch breaks and in the workshop and the lads are always there to give you a hand if you need it.

“The social aspect is very good so far. I get to the pub with the lads from work the odd evening which is good. The company has also put me in touch with some of their customers to get me weekend work, driving the machines that we work on.”

Take the opportunity

“After being here for a couple of weeks now, I wouldn’t look back and I think anybody who gets the opportunity to go abroad for their placement should definitely take it.

“The people you meet and the contacts you can gather up are huge and will benefit you in the long run.”

Lambing 1,200 ewes in Scotland

Seán Myles and Conor Mitchell are third-year agricultural science students in UCD. Specialising in animal and crop production, they are currently completing their sheep placement in Scotland.

They are working for a family farm run by three brothers – Norman, Alastair, and Derek Whitten and their father Robert – in West Longridge.

They farm 2,500ac, of which roughly 375ac is owned. Seán and Conor are based at the home farm where they are staying in Alistair’s house.

On deciding to go abroad for their sheep placement, they said: “We wanted to go abroad to experience lambing at a larger scale than at home. We got talking to lads that were here previous years and they really enjoyed their experience.”


“At the home farm, they lamb 1,200 ewes indoors and lambing had just started a few days before we arrived in early March.

“They keep mainly Mule and Suffolk ewes and breed them to Suffolk and Texel rams. We lambed nearly 500 ewes in our first week, which was fairly hands on. Things quietened down in our second week and only 200 ewes lambed.

At the home farm, they lamb 1,200 ewes indoors and lambing started in early March.

“Triplets are penned beside singles, so that a close eye can be kept on both sets to allow us to foster lambs from triplets on to singles.

“Sheep are penned individually once lambed and lambs’ navels are dipped. They are injected with Betamox and vitamin E due to the sheep being on a straw diet.

“After one to two days, lambs are castrated and tailed, and numbered along with their ewe.

“They also have tar dipped on their backs to deter foxes.

“Ewes and lambs are then group penned in batches of 15 to 20 ewes in large straw-fenced pens outside for two to three days, before being put on to grass away from the farm.

“Suffolks and Mules are separated before going to grass due to some ground being more suitable because of its hilly and rocky nature.”


“Sheep are fed a high-protein nut morning and evening, along with fresh straw, and group penned based on whether they were carrying singles, couples or triplets.

“They are also fed hay and turnips. However, this is limited to prevent water belly and prolapse.”

Cattle and tillage

“The Whittens also run a herd of 250 suckler cows and buy in yearlings to slaughter at 30 months of age. In total, they keep around 800 to 900 head of cattle.

“They also have 300ac of tillage, mainly wheat and barley crops. However, stubble turnips are sown in winter to finish hoggets. They use all of their grain to finish cattle and also use all of their straw for bedding.

“It’s very busy with lambs going out to grass, but we are enjoying the experience. The weather has been good, better than at home anyway, and we are being well fed and looked after.”

Milking 770 cows in New Zealand

From a dairy farm in Co Laois, John Farrell travelled to New Zealand to see something different and step outside of his comfort zone.

Currently working on a dairy farm in the most southerly part of the country, he told us about his placement so far.

“The farm is a 770-cow spring-calving dairy farm on 300ha, with a 100ha run-off block for the replacement stock. The milking stock is broken up into four different herds of around 250 cows, with the fourth herd designated for lame cows and cows under treatment.”


“The work is rostered with six days on and two off, with three people working at all times. The roster is broken down into three days.

“The first day starts at 7am doing work outside of milking, such as mowing paddocks, spraying or moving cows to different paddocks. Milking is the task on the second day, with the cups on the cows at 4.30am. Milking usually takes four hours.

Third-year UCD agricultural science student John Farrell is on college placement in New Zealand.

“On the third day, it is your responsibility to get the cows in. After the three days, the cycle repeats until the end of the six working days.”


“The farm uses a satellite that passes over the farm on a daily basis and informs us of the cover for each paddock. This is then viewed in the office and the grazings for the next three days are picked.

“Grass growth is averaging around 58kg DM/ha a day, with the cows on a 21-day rotation.

“The paddocks are around 4.5ha to 5.5ha [in size] and the cows are given the entire paddock for 24 hours. When the grass growth drops, they are buffer-fed after the morning milking.

“Each herd is given 1t of silage and half a tonne of palm kernel and another half a tonne of water.”

Social aspect

“There is a good social aspect in the area.

“The Young Farmers is an organisation similar to Macra and they often organise events such as tag rugby, surfing and social nights.

“They allow you to take a step away from the farm in the evenings and socialise with like-minded people.”