23-year-old Conor Gormley hails from Nass, Co. Kildare and is a commercial graduate with agri-technology company Devenish.
During his time studying animal science at University College Dublin (UCD), he gained insights into various industries, including food manufacturing, retail and construction as well as several placements within agriculture.
His experience of farming growing up came from working on my grandparents’ farm. As is the case with so many from a farming background, being able to help out on a family farm from a young age instilled him a love for agriculture.
Conor gave us an insight into a day in his life as a Devenish Commercial Graduate.
What is your current job title?
I am a commercial graduate with agri-technology company Devenish.
Where are you based?
As part of Devenish’s Graduate Programme, graduates are rotated over a number of business units across our sites. I am currently overseeing nursery feed trials in a specialised performance test house.
The unit I am currently based in is a purpose-built nursery pig farm, where pigs arrive at 4 weeks and stay for 8 weeks. I share an onsite office with the farm manager.
What does your day currently consist of?
My typical day starts at 9 am. My schedule will vary each day but will typically start with walking the unit checking on feed, ensuring that the pigs are fed.
Mondays are spent weighing the pigs. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, most of my time is spent analysing the data collected from the pigs: weights, feed consumed and room progress with regard to the various feed trials.
Thursdays are probably the most enjoyable day as this is the day the freshly weaned pigs arrive.
Once delivered, I weigh and grade the new pigs before spending time with them to determine the most suitable treatments for each pen. These decisions are based on grades of pigs and ensuring the trials will be balanced and fair.
Who do you liaise with on a daily basis?
At the beginning of my placement, I worked alongside Zoe McIlmurry, Pig Technician, who had overseen trial work on the unit for three years, and I now work alongside the Farm Manager, Elaine.
With the new COVID-19 restrictions, visiting is limited to essential personnel only including feed delivery drivers and the vet.
Although I may not see them in person at the moment, I am still in regular contact with my manager and the wider pig team. We have regular online meetings using Microsoft Teams.
What kind of responsibilities do you have currently?
In addition to ensuring that all the pigs in the unit are fed the correct feed components, my role includes overseeing the current feed trials and ensuring feedstocks are monitored and re-ordered as required.
I collect all the relevant data from the trials such as animal weights, daily intakes, daily gain and the feed conversion ratio.
Favourite part of your role?
Seeing how various feed components can benefit different pigs is fascinating.
I love being able to work with animals every day, and it is great to be able to combine that with getting exposure to the nutritional and technical side – it really is the best of both worlds!
What is the most challenging part of your role?
The many pigs under my watch have differing needs in terms of the amount of and types of feeds they require – it is challenging but at the same time very rewarding and a good learning experience.
I started this role just as the COVID-19 restrictions were introduced. It was a challenging time for everyone, but as a team we have adapted well.
Has this role met your expectations?
Absolutely, I am really enjoying working on-farm and gaining knowledge that will help me in my career.
What plans/hopes do you have for career progression?
I would like to progress within Devenish and consolidate my role within the commercial team. In the long-term, I would like to be in a position whereby I can purchase my own land as farming is my passion.
Why should younger generations follow in your footsteps?
The island of Ireland has a brilliant farming heritage. Our industry feeds millions of people on these islands and around the globe.
The current situation has demonstrated the importance of food and farming, and maintaining a strong supply of safe, nutritious food.
In order to safely feed a growing world population, we need to continually progress new knowledge-based ideas. The industry here is constantly innovating and it is great to be a part of that through my time with Devenish.
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