WIT graduate, Miriam Dineen, wears several hats as a dairy farmer and sales representative for an agri company.
The 22-year-old hails from Cahirbarnagh, Rathmore, Co. Kerry, on the Cork side of the Cork/Kerry border.
Farming is a longstanding tradition on both sides of her family, with Miriam being the fourth generation.
“I come from a dairy farm where my father, Donie, took it over from his father. My dad farmed the land until he passed away from cancer in March 2012. My mother, Eileen, then took over the farm.”
65-cow dairy herd
Miriam farms alongside her mother and younger siblings, Marguerite, Ciara, Daniel, and Seán. They run a 65-cow spring-calving dairy herd, comprising mainly of Holsteins, British Friesians, with some Norwegian Reds and Montbéliardes.
“We have farmed together the last eight years and are delighted to see the family tradition still ongoing.”
The herd begins calving around February 1st, with a view to having all calved by April 1st. “All calves receive colostrum once born. Colostrum is an extremely rich source of antibodies, and calves depend on this.”
“A straightforward rule which we follow is the colostrum 1-2-3 rule. We colostrum from the first milking, give colostrum within 2 hours of birth and give at least 3 litres to each calf.”
They AI half the herd to Friesian bulls from Munster Bovine, focusing on EBI, solids, etc. and use a Hereford bull to serve remaining cows. The family retain all Friesian heifer calves as replacements and sell all other progeny.
“Some of my earliest memories as a child revolve around, waiting every morning at our back door with my wellies in hand to go out for a day of farming with my dad. Every day after school, Marguerite and I would change out of our school uniforms straight away to go and feed young calves.”
“I always had an interest in farming and the outdoors from a very young age. I always knew I wanted to do something in agriculture and with animals.”
“Grassland management is a passion of mine and this would be my responsibility during the summer months. I generally map out where cows would graze every weekend and have the week ahead sorted.”
“I took on many responsibilities when my dad passed away, such as bookwork including calf registrations and keeping the Bord Bia records up-to-date.”
“Grassland management, as I mentioned, is a core responsibility, along with calf-rearing and sire selection as part of our breeding programme.”
The knowledge Miriam has taken from her formal education has been invaluable to her home farm.
She enrolled in Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) level 7 BSc in agriculture programme four years ago. The 22-year-old graduated from this three-year course last year before furthering her studies.
She completed an add-on course, WIT’s BSc (Hons) in Land Management which allowed her to obtain a level 8 degree in her respective discipline. As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, they were unable to have their graduation ceremony, but the class hopes to mark this milestone in 2021, if possible.
“I chose this course and started straight after my Leaving Certificate because I loved everything to do with farming. The practical aspect in Kildalton was better than being stuck in a lecture room for the whole day,”
She completed work placement close to her home on a dairy, beef and tillage farm. “Over 12 weeks, I acquired many new skills and gained valuable first-hand experience in a fast-paced environment from this.”
“Last year, I won the ASA mock interviews which were carried out in the college. This gave me a greater understanding of the way interviews may be conducted in the future.”
“This course is perfect for someone interested in the agricultural sector as there is a good balance between practical experience and theory, which is also very important.”
“This course involves a mixture between theory in class and also being out on-farm in Kildalton doing practical skills. It also involves a 12-week work placement where you have the choice to stay in Ireland or go abroad to places such as New Zealand.
“My main highlight from completing these four years in college is the great experience I gathered from carrying out practicals in Kildalton and also the many friends I have made through the years.”
After attaining her level 8 degree this year, Miriam entered the working world. In August 2020, she secured a position as a sales representative with company Agritech, headquartered in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
“I am an area sales representative in my local area of Rathmore. This is great as I know most of the faces and it is fantastic to see how other farms operate. Talking to different farmers each day, you will no doubt learn something new.”
“I think more and more women are choosing a career in agriculture nowadays. They are getting the recognition they deserve, both at farm and industry level, but it still needs a little work.”
“My advice to any young women thinking of entering the agricultural industry would be just to try it because you will not regret it.”
“I think that choosing a career in agriculture can open so many doors nowadays leading to so many different opportunities in our fantastic agricultural industry,” Miriam concluded.
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