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Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Editor and general manager of That's Farming.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

‘When I drive into a yard or field to go baling, I’m met with blank stares or twenty questions’

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“I went to an all-girls secondary school where agriculture as a subject was not taught and not encouraged as a career path,” explained Chloe Millar.

“I remember being told that I would never get anywhere pursuing agriculture as a career path purely because I was a woman.”

The third-generation farmer did not let that negative advice hold her back from achieving the career success she desired. The Kildorrery, Co. Cork native studied a formal agricultural degree and now works as a research technician with Teagasc.

Chloe Millar

Dairy and sheep enterprise

Whilst working full-time, she is also involved in the family farm, which is steeped in tradition.

She plays a role in the running of the dairy/calf-to-beef/sheep farm with her parents and older sister, Olga.

They farm a 120-cow spring-calving herd, mainly Holstein /British Friesians. The Millars also have pedigree Zwartbles and Valais Blacknoses and commercial Dorsets and Vendeens.

They AI cows and heifers for six weeks, utilising beef bulls for the last two weeks on cows only and using two Limousin stock bulls thereafter.

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“We calve in early January – aiming to have everything calved in 8 weeks. We rear all calves to a year-and-a-half stage and sell to same local beef farmers in our area each year for finishing.”

Chloe Milliar

“All ewes and hoggets are sponged on July 1st and lamb in December – I aim to have them all lambed before the calving begins,” Chloe added.

“I enjoy being outdoors and working with livestock and machinery. Although Olga and I work outside of the farm, the running of the farm is a joint effort.”

“We share everyday responsibilities between us – for example –  a day I wouldn’t be milking I would be on cattle and sheep duty and visa versa.”

Research technician at Teagasc

Chloe juggles these duties with a full-time role with Teagasc, the state agency providing research, advisory and education in agriculture, horticulture, food, and rural development in Ireland.

She moved to fill the position of research technician at Teagasc Moorepark after graduating from Cork Institute of Technology and Clonakilty Agricultural College with a Level 8 BSc degree in agriculture.

“My responsibilities include farm visits nationwide – from herd health checks – scanning or weighing – to grass walks and advisory.”

“I like being able to travel to different farms throughout the country every day,” added Chloe, who has held this position since August 2018.

“For me, the outdoor life and working with animals and machinery is my ideal career. There are many opportunities in agriculture, whether it is rearing calves, milking cows, growing crops or in the food industry. When your career no longer is a ‘job’, it is a good sign of a sector.”

“I am very lucky to work for an organisation that offers equal opportunities to all.”

Chloe Milliar - Zwartbles

Machinery

Along with gaining extensive experience in this role, she has previously worked for agricultural contractors.

“I fuelled this interest by working for our agricultural contractor, Michael and Teresa Kelly, doing all aspects of pit silage contracting.”

From here, she went on to work for John Tobin, a local agricultural contractor specialising in baling, zero-grazing and slurry application. “I have helped John for the last four years and have learned a lot about machinery and different farm systems.”

Chloe Millar - Tractor

Women in ag

The Cork native said she been fortunate to have worked for many different farmers in my area undertaking relief milking, general farm jobs and machinery work.

“I have never found any issues. When I drive into a yard or field to go baling, and I’m met with either blank stares or twenty questions – I find it quite funny.”

“Women in agriculture do not get the recognition they deserve. I feel women, in general, feel that they must work that bit harder to get recognition. However, as the saying goes… behind every good man is an even better woman.”

Future

Satisfied is her current role, Chloe looks forward to the opportunities that lie ahead within the ever-evolving agricultural sector.

“I feel that the outlook of agriculture in Ireland is very promising. Brexit will definitely have an effect on the sector, but I feel that as a country, we have the ability to overcome these challenges.”

“Life as a young person in agriculture requires a lot of hard work. I have been very fortunate, growing up to have had a lot of opportunities in the sector to develop my skills and knowledge.”

“The availability of ag science as a leaving cert subject is a great introduction for many to the sector. This subject is not just for students from a farming background and can develop a great love for nature, everything farming and a great foundation for future careers.”

“Schools need to show that agriculture, as a career, opens many gateways into a wide range of industry and research areas and that farming is only one section of this,” she concluded.

To share your story, email – catherina@thatsfarming.com

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