Although Seán Moloney does not hail from a farming background, the agricultural student aspires to become a large animal vet.
The 20-year-old’s love of the land was influenced by the time he spent on his uncle’s farm during his school holidays.
“I did not grow up on a farm but I always liked working outdoors. I could never see myself working indoors all day every day and used to keep some poultry when I was younger,” he told That’s Farming.
The Kilcock, Co. Kildare native began working on a local 115-cow dairy farm in Maynooth in 2017. “Working on the farm has allowed me to gain experience and skills for my future career.”
The calving interval on the farm, which is home to predominantly Holstein Friesians cows and Holstein and Limousin stock bulls, is split between spring and autumn which is predominantly made up of Holstein Friesians.
The bull calves are sold when they are a few-weeks-old while heifer calves are retained as replacements.“I enjoy working with animals as I find it relaxing.”
Seán’s farming experience has instilled his passion for animal health and has influenced his decision to pursue a career in this field.
“I find it very rewarding when you identify a sick animal and see it make a full recovery once calling the vet out.”
After completing his Leaving Certificate in 2017, Seán deferred his CAO offer for the BSc (Hons) Sustainable Farm Management and Agribusiness degree programme in the Institute of Technology Carlow, Wexford campus.
He began the course in 2018 and has just completed his second year. “I selected this course because I was impressed by the range of modules and the job opportunities it offered.”
“The highlight so far was studying the animal nutrition module in second year. The smaller class sizes, the regular field trips, the visits to Teagasc Johnstown Castle and Agribusiness and the guest lectures are also a bonus.”
“The course is made up of continuous assessment (CA) and end-of-year exams. Some modules have no end-of-year exam and are 100% CA. CA is made up of small in-class exams, assignments, some presentations etc.”
“This takes away some pressure from one big end of year exam but CA needs to be completed to a high quality to get good grades.”
“Some assignments do require access to a farm so if you’re not familiar with a farm. Before starting the course, it is a good idea to make arrangements for this.”
“The lecturers are helpful with this also. There are usually assignments after field trips so it’s important to be paying attention during these.”
The course has a 24-week professional work placement module which takes place in third year at the beginning of February.
Students have the opportunity to complete their placement in Ireland or abroad. “I am hoping to base my placement on livestock, one involving animal research, for example, to build up my curriculum vitae for my future veterinary medicine application.”
The course is structured by continuous assessments; these are composed of class exams, presentations and assignments. “This takes away some pressure from the end of year exams.”
From Seán’s own experience, he advises young people to put in the hard work and effort as “it is a very rewarding and satisfying area to work in”.
“There are many job prospects in this industry – it is not all about working on the farm and there is a career to suit everyone.”
“You should never be afraid to ask questions along the way. My life as a young person in agriculture is a very happy, positive and enthusiastic one. I am happy with the choices I have made as I have no regrets so far.”
The future of farming
Seán believes food production will become more efficient and sustainable.
“This requires young enthusiastic people to join the industry to help set benchmarks for other countries to follow.”
“It is true that agriculture is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions but people forget the amount of food that is produced and exported to other countries where the industry is less important in terms of GDP”.
“Large corporations in other industries that produce large quantities of carbon buy forestry to reduce their carbon output on paper but no acknowledgement is given to carbon stored on farms in the soil and trees”.
Seán’s main goal is to study graduate veterinary medicine, either in Ireland or overseas, when he completes his undergraduate studies in 2022.
He aspires to practice as a large animal vet and would relish the opportunity to own his own farm. “The ultimate goal is to qualify as a large animal vet, own a farm of some sort and most all, just be happy.”
“I am very happy with the choices I have made and I have no regrets so far.”
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Interview conducted by Catherina Cunnane.