In this week’s Student Focus segment, That’s Farming talks to Anna Jacob about her passion for Hereford cattle, agricultural shows, and studies at UCD.
Breeding Hereford cattle runs deep in the veins of 20-year-old Anna Jacob, who hails from Enniscorthy, County Wexford.
Her great grandfather initially purchased the holding at Dunsinane, which her grandfather, later inherited and began breeding Hereford cattle in the 1960s.
Her father later took the enterprise’s reins and now farms a prize-winning 65-cow pedigree Hereford herd, with the help of Anna and a part-time employee.
Hereford cattle account for 85% of the herd’s composition, with continental breeds making up the remainder.
The farm’s primary system is to breed autumn/spring-born Hereford bulls predominantly for the dairy herds and some suckler herds.
Furthermore, they also have 40-acres of tillage land, producing barley, maize, and beans. Besides, they operate a calf-to-beef system, sourcing progeny from dairy farmers who have purchased bulls from them.
“I have always had my own calves every year. More recently, I have expanded my numbers by buying in more calves and a Belgian Blue heifer, which I plan to breed from,” she told That’s Farming.
“The most enjoyable part of farming for me has to be livestock. I was and, still am, initially drawn to the livestock. I could go forever without having anything to do with a tractor or machinery; take animals out of the picture, and I do not think I would be where I am today.”
“I have always had an interest in farming from an early age. My first memories are of my brother and I taking part in the young handler’s competition at our local show every year. I enjoy exhibiting cattle at agricultural shows, both nationally and locally, annually.”
Despite her striking passion for farming, Anna initially planned to pursue a physiotherapy career; however, she had a change of heart.
With agricultural science being her favourite subject, she decided to apply for UCD’s agricultural science degree programme and begin her studies in 2018.
The animal and crop production student will graduate from the four-year course in 2022 and is currently completing her 30-week Professional Work Experience module.
“Covid-19 has made organising placement a bit more difficult than usual. Although things have not gone exactly to plan, I am enjoying each aspect of the course and making the most of what opportunities I have.”
“I have loved my time studying ag in UCD so far, both its academic and social sides. From going to labs and lectures to spending time in the tea rooms and showing a face in Ryan’s every Wednesday, it has made my college experience all the more memorable.”
“I only hope that I will be back there again next year for my final year to continue my learning, having the craic and meeting the fantastic people on the way.”
Bursary and AgSoc
Slaney Foods, Lidl and the Hereford Breed Society selected the 20-year-old as one of five recipients of a bursary for agricultural science students in first year.
“It was a great experience. As a result, I was lucky enough to assist with the National Hereford Calf Show in Tullamore that year.”
“When I first started in UCD, I joined AgSoc and have been a member of it ever since. It has been a great way of getting to know people in my course in both years above and below.”
“Through various fundraisers, events, and activities, it has made my college experience that more enjoyable.”
The road ahead
Anna looks to the future with “a broad perspective of the agricultural industry and the different routes it possesses”.
She revealed that the dairy sector; however, is “intriguing me every day”, and she is open to the idea of possibly converting their own suckler farm to dairy.
Having been unable to travel to New Zealand this year for placement, she hopes to tick this off her bucket list when she graduates.
Anna intends to return to her home soil to complete a master’s in education as she is considering teaching agricultural science at post-primary level.
“I have realised the number of opportunities young people in agriculture have since starting my degree and my work placement. Because the sector is so varied and so diverse, there are endless opportunities.”
“I do not feel people treat me any differently from my male counterparts; agriculture is such a varied sector with jobs suited to all kinds of people.”
“There are so many women highly recognised at both farm and industry level of the sector for what they do. Having accomplished so much and made a name for themselves, it is aspiring for young people like me.” Anna concluded.