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‘Farmers are sometimes the unsung heroes who keep the show on the road’

Women in Ag Farm Better with AgriNet HerdApp: Ciara Byers

Ciara Byers (20) from County Cavan is no flat tyre around the farm of 200 spring and autumn-calving Holstein Friesian cows.

Balancing her studies of animal crop and production at UCD, she has been helping in the milking parlour from a young age.

Her course has piqued her interest in improving herd efficiency and production further, so she downloaded AgriNet HerdApp to analyse her farm better.

Her college course complements her day-to-day on the farm, and Ciara is implementing everything that she learns. Throughout this blog, we learn how she drives success on the farm.

AgriNet HerdApp

Ciara Byers downloaded the AgriNet HerdApp just a year ago. Having had previously used the desktop version, the modern layout and handiness of the farm app drew the Byers to begin using HerdApp.

With two drying off periods and two breeding seasons, the family has chaos and uncertainty on their hands without good farm management. This family enterprise requires huge organisation and accurate records that are close to hand and easy to read to run the farm successfully.

“Farming and the way we record our information is evolving, and it really is benefiting both animal and farmer in the long run.”

All in one place 

Before using HerdApp, the Byers were writing down tag numbers, dry off dates and all of the rest of it on pieces of paper or in notes on the phone, but often, the information never went any further than that.

“100%, I would recommend using AgriNet to other farmers. HerdApp has so many benefits; an easy layout which is simple to use and get used to and all the information you would ever need in your back pocket!”

Why run the risk of losing pieces of paper when you could have it all in one place, which has no chance of being lost?

As the farming community on social media is growing day by day, we gain insight to a day on a farm more commonly. Ciara is adamant about the importance of this for young children and people who otherwise might not be exposed to the agricultural sector.

It is an introduction to learning about where our food comes from, and the love farmers have for their animals and their commitment to their job.

“Farmers are sometimes the unsung heroes who keep the show on the road no matter what is going on in the world around them; everyone still needs food on their plates.”

Covid-19

Living in uncertain times as we may be, the cows still need to be milked and exams passed. Nonetheless, all of our lives have been impacted, and the ‘new normal’ has taken its toll on student life.

“I do miss the busy Dublin lifestyle during the week… most of us Ag’s have resorted to downing pints of milk in the parlour rather than pints of something a little stronger in Ryan’s of Camden St.”

Covid-19 has changed our lives as we know it, but there is rarely a dull moment on any Irish farm. Although farming can be quite an isolated occupation, so if you are farming on your own, reach out.

“A simple phone call to a friend can help break the vicious circle, especially during the busy calving season on a dairy farm. “

So far in this spring-calving season, there have already been over half-a-million calves registered in Ireland.

Last May, there had been just shy of two million calves registered within a few months. With stock numbers rising and registrations looming, new farm app technology was born to make life on the farm easier.

AgriNet HerdApp: Ciara Byers, calving 2021, farm girl, women in ag,

Using technology to make farm life easier

The ease of registering calves is a big thing for Ciara. Before using HerdApp, Ciara used to try to tag and register calves once-a-week.

But we all know that during the busy period, a week of calves born is a headache to try tag and register.

As you put it off, the list grows longer and longer. During the calving peak, you do not have an hour to spend trying to tag a huge number of calves.

“Now, with HerdApp, the calves are tagged and registered within 24 hours of being born as it literally only takes minutes to tag the calf and input the birth details into the HerdApp.”

Successful organisation has been a big thing on Ciara’s farm. AgriNet HerdApp is integral to the farm’s decision-making process, especially for the information around drying-off dates.

“As we milk all year round, there isn’t one set week or fortnight where all milking cows are dried off.”

HerdApp suggests drying off dates for all cows who are scanned in-calf earlier in their cycle. This ensures they give all their cows a 60-day dry period before they calve down.

Before using HerdApp, Ciara admits the odd cow would slip through and end up only being dried off a few weeks before calving.

Medication records 

Another feature of HerdApp that Ciara commends for saving time on the farm is the medication records.

“Medication records are a big part of the Bord Bia inspections and something you can’t get wrong.”

Ciara is ready for Bord Bia inspections all year round with AgriNet HerdApp. When drug is purchased, it is inputted into HerdApp immediately.

As a drug is administered to an animal, it is then recorded there and then as your phone is always in your pocket.

If you are vaccinating/dosing a batch of animals, it is just as simple as you can input the administered drug as a batch dose.

Everything is reconciled, and there is an easily printable report that is ready to go once it is needed for your inspection, or you can show the inspector or vet your HerdApp.

This farm app saves you time on looking for notes, takes the guesswork out and helps you to optimise your time on the farm and unlock the power of data with insightful reports.

Using the calving calendar on HerdApp gives an accurate idea of which cows need to be watched and put into a calving pen; no surprise arrivals in the morning anymore!

Advice for farmers around calving season 

Calving season is a very busy time. Ciara reminds us that it is important to mind yourself both physically and mentally.

Using HerdApp cuts down Ciara’s time spent taking notes, sorting out calf registrations or medical records for Bord Bia, giving her more time to spend on the animals, her lectures and studies.

“Sleep might be slim, but make sure you eat well and take time to put your feet up whenever possible.”

In the future, Ciara hopes to travel the world and experience the agricultural sector in different countries.

That’s Farming profiled Ciara last year – you can read her story by clicking here.

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