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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
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 think that women in ag do not really face the same stigma they once did’

Our editor, Catherina Cunnane, speaks to 21-year-old Lola Traynor, Co Monaghan, an ag science student and dairy farmer as part of this week’s women in ag segment.

“I come from a family where farming is a major tradition for four generations now. Some of my earliest farming memories are milking cows with my granda and dad, where I used to spray the cow’s teats, and I was so small I could hardly reach up to them.

I remember feeding the calves, going to the mart on Saturdays, and getting to go to the co-op in the jeep.

Both of my parents work off-farm, so extra hands are a great help. My dad is a manager by trade and my mam works in accounts.

KT Farm LTD is a family-run enterprise that my dad, Karl Traynor, grandparents, Paddy and Mary Traynor and I are involved in.

My cousins, Oisín and Cillian Traynor, are always there to give us a helping hand.

21-year-old Monaghan native, Lola Traynor, is an ag science student at WIT/Kildalton Ag College and an 80-cow dairy farmer.

Dairy farming 

We have mainly Holstein Friesian with British Friesian crosses introduced into the herd in the last few years.

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Furthermore, we run a purebred Simmental stock bull from local breeders, Kilkitt Simmentals, with our cows. Besides, we AI 10% of the herd with sexed semen, high-EBI Friesian straws.

My grandparents operated the farm and milked 60 cows in a 6 unit herringbone parlour for the last 40 years.

In 2018, my dad took over the farm, and we are now robotic milking 85 cows with a Lely A4 Astronaut.

We operate a spring and autumn calving system and use an ABC grazing system, which means cows are sent to a different paddock three times a day through the grazeway, and this happens every 8 hours.

We strip graze and carry out grass measuring. Cows are housed for approximately three months of the year when ground conditions become too wet.

We sell all continental calves at approximately 4-weeks-old, and keep all Friesian heifers as replacements.

Currently, we have 85 milking cows, 10 replacement in-calf heifers, 10 calves and 1 bull

The most enjoyable aspect of farming for me is working with the livestock, including dosing, feeding, clipping tails etc. I enjoy spending time with the cows, and of course, there is a pet on the farm, 102.

But, I find machinery work slightly challenging. I think this is because I never really took much interest in it as a child; I much preferred working with cows.

Overall, I am most passionate about livestock management and how animals work. I loved learning about them and used the skills and information I learned out in Kildalton by John O’Connor, such as dosing, weighing, BCS etc. and Martin Raftice for dairy production, on my own farm.

At the weekends, when I am not in college, I look after the day-to-day running of the farm – feeding calves, scraping yards, pressure washing, bedding cubicles, feeding silage and moving fences.

21-year-old Monaghan native, Lola Traynor, is an ag science student at WIT/Kildalton Ag College and an 80-cow dairy farmer.

Ag science student 

I am a BSc in Agriculture student at Waterford Institute of Technology, Co. Waterford and will graduate in 2023.

I enrolled in the course in 2019 after my Leaving Cert and am in my third year. I have always had a passion for agriculture and cows.

Therefore, I thought this course would suit me perfectly as it has a lot of practicals, and I prefer that learning style to theory-based work.

I completed placement earlier this year, from January until April. I worked on a dairy and poultry farm in Drum, Co. Monaghan.

The placement was a fantastic experience, and I was so lucky to get such a nice family to work with. I was taught so much. It was nice to get back into a parlour, milking cows and 10,000 hens was a new experience for me.

Placement has been the highlight to date since I started this course. I was so nervous before I started, not knowing what to expect, but I loved every minute of it.

It was great to be back in a parlour like old times, and I enjoyed working with the hens considering I had never been in a hen house before.

Gathering eggs and checking the hens was a new experience, and it was a change from what I was used to doing regarding the yard jobs on the farm.

Back on-campus

WIT delivers the course in conjunction with Teagasc’s Kildalton Agricultural College, where we go for practicals, such as farm buildings, dairy production, sheep etc. Also, we have classroom-based theory lectures along with labs.

We are back on-campus full-time, and it is great. Last year, we were luckier than others. Our lectures were online, but we still got to go to Kildalton for practicals, and we had our labs in WIT.

I love my course. Since I started college, I have grown in knowledge and confidence and can put my new skills into practice at home. The lecturers in WIT and Kildalton are all so lovely and helpful and know us all by our names.

However, this course was not my first choice. Science teaching in UL was, but I am so glad now I am doing this course. It suits me perfectly, and it is so nice to get away from theory when we are in the labs or out on the farm for practicals in Kildalton.

21-year-old Monaghan native, Lola Traynor, is an ag science student at WIT/Kildalton Ag College and an 80-cow dairy farmer.

Women in Ag

My dad and granda had a major influence on my career path. The same treatment is extended to me as to my male counterparts, without a doubt. Women are now being recognised more and more, and that is excellent.

Women in farming are getting the recognition they deserve. For example, we have seen CAP documents showing that women are on track to get 60% under TAMS and female KT groups.

This has been a long time coming for the 70,000 women working on farms without any formal recognition. I think that women in ag do not really face the same stigma they once did. Today’s women aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

As mentioned previously, it would be great to see grants for women coming to fruition.

Working in the ag sector is very rewarding. Not only shaping the environment, but we get to maintain it and progress it for the next generation. It is exciting to deal with challenges, changes and complexities.

Thankfully, being a woman in agriculture is not challenging for me. I am an only child and the eldest of eighteen grandchildren, who are mainly boys.

I have five uncles, and I have always been treated well by them on the farm. They have always shown me how to do jobs, [drive tractors, feed silage, even change a tyre], so it comes second nature to me.

21-year-old Monaghan native, Lola Traynor, is an ag science student at WIT/Kildalton Ag College and an 80-cow dairy farmer.

Travel and education 

I would love to teach in an agricultural college, preferably dairy, but anything really as I love the broad spec of ag.

I want to share my passion and knowledge with the future generations of ag. We missed out on going to New Zealand on placement because of Covid, so I will travel there after finishing my degree.

Besides, I would be open to furthering my studies if necessary as I think ag is ever-changing, and it is important to keep up-to-date with the changes.

I am excited to be finished college and out working as a woman in ag. My goal is to be teaching and inspire others.

I cannot wait to be part of the innovative changes happening in the sector on the daily. I also want to go into partnership with my dad, expand our herd size and put in a second robot.

21-year-old Monaghan native, Lola Traynor, is an ag science student at WIT/Kildalton Ag College and an 80-cow dairy farmer.


In essence, I am very grateful to be a young person in ag. I have learned from quite a young age to take the rough with the smooth. Furthermore, I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience from farming life and through college. Every day is a new day.

Ag will develop without a doubt, and hopefully, farmers will adapt to the new technologies such as LESS, robotics, solar panels etc., therefore making ag more sustainable and reducing carbon emissions,” the ag science student concluded.

Read more women in ag profiles.

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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