Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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HomeBeef‘I started going to the mart with dad when I was 15,...
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I started going to the mart with dad when I was 15, and I buy my own cattle’

This week’s featured woman in agriculture is Ellen Deery, a full-time farmer from Louth. 

Ellen Deery may only be 23-years-old, but she is already farming in her own right.

Hailing from Kilkerley outside Dundalk in Louth, she divides her time between her drystock and sheep enterprise and the family farm.

Ellen and her father, Bernard, operate a weanling-to-beef system, purchasing Friesian bullocks, and bringing these through to slaughter, along with Friesian cull cows.

Generally, there are approximately 150 head on the home farm, but numbers are subject to fluctuate, due to the nature of their system.

“We purchase our cows and bullocks in the mart all-year-round and kill the first load of cows from the end of May onwards. On the other hand, we usually start slaughtering bullocks from around the end of June onwards. Ellen told That’s Farming.

“The most enjoyable part of farming for me would be working with animals every day. To be honest, that has always been a dream of mine. My responsibilities are feeding morning and evening and paperwork.”

calves, calf rearing, farming,

Own farm

Ellen’s own farm, which comprises a calf-to-beef system, is located near her home farm in Cunnicar. She purchases 3-4-week-old British Friesian calves and rears these to 30-months.

“I got my herd number when I inherited my granny’s herd number when she passed away. When I was younger, I used to work with her all the time, and we were always very close.”

“To add to my enterprise, I bought a Limousin-cross show heifer at Tateetra and Rathmore Farms’ sale at Carnaross Mart. The plan is to flush her and put embryos into maternal-type heifers.”

“I attend marts every week; Ballybay Mart is the main one every Saturday, and I also used to attend Station Road Mart in Cootehill, Co. Cavan but sadly, it recently closed down. Then, I occasionally attend Ardee Mart, Delvin Mart and Carnaross Mart.”

“I started going to the mart with dad when I was 15, and I buy my own cattle. There are not many girls at the mart, but I do not feel treated any differently to anyone else.”

 Tateetra & Rathmore Farms, suckler farming, suckler farmers


Ellen is keen to diversify her enterprise and recently ventured into breeding pedigree Texel sheep.

To lay the foundations for her flock, she acquired two pedigree in-lamb ewes for €1,750 and €1,450, from the Oberstown flock at a sale at Cootehill Mart. The ewes are due to lamb in early February to the 15,000gn Knock Yardsman.

Completing placement as part of her Green Certificate studies at Ballyhaise Agricultural College in Cavan sparked her passion for ovines.

“I completed my placement on the Ballyhaise College Farm, where I worked with dairy cattle and sheep and enjoyed every minute. Before placement, I never had any experience with sheep but soon fell for them. I was responsible for lambing and feeding, and I learned so much in my time there.”

“I always knew I wanted to further my studies in the agricultural field after college, so Ballyhaise was the best option for me. Admittedly, I never liked school growing up, but loved Ballyhaise, and they honestly were two of the best years.”

“Agricultural college gives you the knowledge you need to decide what sector you want to go into and also allows you to expand your knowledge base with placement opportunities.”

Texels, sheep, farming, breeding ewes


Living her dream as a full-time farmer, the 23-year-old has plans to expand her herd and newly established Texel flock. With her expansion plan, comes a desire to construct a shed for ease of management and time efficiency.

“I hope to expand my calf numbers and also start buying Friesian cows, so do to this, I will need to take more land and improve my calf rearing facilities.”

“As a woman in agriculture, I do feel as though I am treated equally to my male counterparts in the sector. Honestly, I do not find being a woman in agriculture challenging because farming is all I have ever wanted to do. It may be a tough job sometimes, but it is worth it.”

“Overall, I am happy with my pathway. I could not see myself doing anything else, and I am living my dream life, immersed in the farming world.” Ellen concluded.

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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