Growing up on a beef farm, steeped in family tradition, sowed the seed for WIT student Louise Horan.
The 20-year-old is the fourth-generation of the family to farm the lands at Killenaule, Co. Tipperary.
“My great grandad Horan sold his farm in Golden, Tipperary, brought animals by foot to our current farm, where my grandad then ran a very successful dairy farm.” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.
Her uncle, Andy, now oversees the running of the home farm, while her father, Jim, farms about 2km from here.
Having converted to beef, they are currently rearing yearlings and hope to establish a new on-farm enterprise in 2021.
The farm is home to a mix of mainly Hereford, Friesian and Angus, which are usually purchased from local farmers when the animals are 12-months-old.
“Next year, we hope to purchase more weanlings, along with calves, with a view to establishing a solid calf-to-beef in two years system.”
“Disease control is extremely important when buying in cattle so we place animals in quarantine, have a strict vaccination programme with dung sampling forming an essential part of our dosing programme.”
“I check on our cattle each morning and help with herding, dosing and other jobs. I work on my uncle’s farm when he needs me where I help him with general tasks.”
“I just love working with animals. I would love to be back working the farm as a dairy farm like my grandad did as it involves a lot more interaction with the cows. I love working outdoors also. Being cooped up in an indoor job is just not for me long-term.”
While Louise has always had an interest in farming all her life, the idea of making a career out of it only sprung to mind when she was in fifth-year.
“I was a bit late coming around to the idea and then found it difficult to play catch up on everything. I bought my first eight calves this year, which may be a little later than most in the industry but better late than never.” she laughed.
She enrolled in Waterford Institute of Technology’s agricultural science degree programme in 2018 and is set to graduate in 2022.
“I chose Waterford as it was closer to home and more accessible for me than courses offered in other counties.
“I knew I wanted to have a career in agriculture but also wanted to have in-depth knowledge in what I would be doing, so I listed this as my first CAO choice and accepted the offer.” the third-year student added.
“Starting our practical classes in Kildalton Agricultural College has to be the highlight of my experience so far. Last year, we completed mechanisation, beef, sheep, tillage and dairy practicals.”
She will be completing her work placement module next January, with the hope of returning to New Zealand for a third time; however, with Covid-19 restrictions, the Tipperary native said this “seems unlikely”.
Looking ahead, Louise will continue to grow her herd at a steady rate and has intentions to further her education once she completes her undergraduate studies.
She is passionate about rare breeds and she aims to establish her own herd of Droimeann or Dexter cattle, but is not ruling out a return to dairying.
“Now that I have my own calves, I would like to expand this and have a herd of my own with my own calf-to-beef enterprise.”
“I hope to get into dairy in the future and have my own dairy enterprise that is different than most with the possibility of milking rare breeds with a focus on having a highly sustainable farm.”
“I am very lucky to have great support in my family. Without my parents and my uncle, I wouldn’t be working or studying in the sector.”
“As my mother would say ‘do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’ and that sums up my life as a young person in agriculture.” Louise concluded.
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