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‘I do believe there is a lingering stigma surrounding women working in large animal practice’

“I was an animal lover from childhood – I always knew I would end up working with animals in later life.” Adele Mannion (30) explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“I spent most of my childhood on my grandad’s farm in Abbeyknockmoy. I have many memories herding with my dad and helping with lambs during lambing season.”

“I was a big horse fan throughout my childhood and teenage years – I broke my father’s heart (and pocket) buying ponies for me,” explained Adele, whose parents both grew up on farms.

Veterinary nursing

Her farming roots influenced her decision to study a BSc in veterinary nursing at Athlone Institute of Technology.

When she completed her undergraduate studies, Adele travelled and worked as a vet nurse in Australia; her fiancé, Damien Ansbro, worked in the construction sector there for four-and-a-half-years.

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When the couple returned home, Adele secured employment in a mixed animal practice in Galway City.

During that period, she completed a post-graduate certificate in business management at Galway Business School, as she discovered a passion for the business aspect of the veterinary industry.

FarmGate Veterinary Group

Adele currently holds the position of veterinary nurse/accounts manager at FarmGate Veterinary Group, with responsibility for accounts, day-to-day practice, and business management.

The six-vet practice, which is a member of XLVets, is dedicated to farm animals and horses. The office is based in Mountbellew, Co. Galway, with a purpose-built clinic in Ahascragh that holds twice-daily clinics.

The 30-year-old spends her days working on clients’ accounts and on projects that were implemented in the practice’s monthly meeting.

“The typical day will change based on the season we are in. For example, in large animal practice, spring is our busiest time of year, but we would ensure we are organised for this period.”

“I feel I am constantly learning and finding opportunities. I feel I get to utilise my qualifications in the business side of veterinary practice, in particular, which I enjoy immensely.”

“Even in my days of working as a vet nurse in a mixed animal practice, I enjoyed working with farmers,” she added. 

Suckler farming

Working in a large animal veterinary practice, in which she receives an abundance of advice in herd health, ensures Adele is well-positioned to assist with the running of her fiancé’s 25-cow suckler farm.

Damien, who works full-time in the construction sector, runs the enterprise with his father, Jimmy. 

“I am lucky as I work a short distance from home. Less commute along with heavy traffic in Galway City has improved a work-life balance,” explained Adele, who now resides in Cortoon.

“The downside is the days are long when jobs must be done to fit in with work but it doesn’t feel like work and we enjoy it.”

“I enjoy springtime when cows are calving – It is very exciting watching new life, particularly after a long and challenging winter.” she added. 

Women in ag

Whilst female participation at farm and industry-level is increasing annually, Adele would like to see more women involved in the sector. 

“Females should consider a career in agriculture because it is a sector that seeks change with external factors such as climate reduction measures on the farm.”

“I would like to say I am treated the same as my male counterparts in the sector, but unfortunately, I do believe there is a lingering stigma surrounding women working in large animal practice.”

“I do believe it has improved in recent years, particularly with the huge influence of social media.”

“I believe it is a fantastic sector that maintains a traditional and local community spirit that is hard to find these days with busy lives that are commonly linked to urban living.”


Looking ahead, Adele has a burning desire to continue suckler farming and working in the sector. “As my career progresses, I feel I gain a deeper desire in committing myself in agriculture.”

“The uncertainty surrounding the agricultural sector and how this will have an impact on large animal practice in the future concerns me.”

“Damien and I are getting married in August 2021. We intend on continuing in suckler farming, despite the challenges.”

“We grew up with farming being a fundamental part of our memories of life on farms. I feel it is something that we want for our family in the future.”

“Being a woman in ag is tough, gender domination and uncertainty, however, it is the most rewarding and healthy profession that provides you with this unique way of providing escapism to busy modern lives,” she concluded.

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