Fourth-generation farmer, Ciaran Conway, hails from Killawalla, 10km from Westport, in Co. Mayo.
The 18-year-old divides his time between the family farm and his Leaving Certificate studies at Colaiste Mhuire in Tourmakeady.
“I have always had an interest in farming. I have been helping my parents on the farm since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is rounding up sheep with my parents.” he told That’s Farming.
“I was 14-years-old when I bought my first heifer at the local mart. I wanted a cow of my own for breeding.”
The Conways farm a lowland flock of 250 ewes, a 25-cow suckler herd and have two multi-prize-winning Irish Draught horses.
The suckler herd comprises mainly Charolais-crosses and Limousin-crosses, which are served by a Limousin bull.
“Most of our calving takes place in February and March as we find a spring-calving system works best for us on the farm.”
“All weanlings are sold at our local mart in October. Calves are weaned from the cows three weeks before being sold, while meal feeding commences two months pre-weaning.”
“We use the ICBF and Herdplus, its subscription service, which assist us in analysing the performance of every cow in the herd. This data plays an invaluable role in our herd.”
The Bord Bia-quality assured farm is also home to crossbred ewes, along with pedigree Lanark and Zwartbles ewes.
The young farmer aims to build up a prolific lowland flock by researching and sourcing superior ewes and rams for breeding purposes.
“I like lambing season even though it is labour intensive. When I see lambs playing in the fields, I know it was worth all the effort.”
“Farming is an outdoor job, that involves long days of physical work and no day two days are the same. You are so in touch with nature and the seasons while working outdoors.”
Student life during Covid-19
“I am studying for my Leaving Certificate, so I have a lot less time to go out on the farm to help.”
“To take a break from study, or clear my head, I go out to the farm and assist with any jobs that need to be completed.”
“Student life during Covid-19 has been very challenging as we have lost out in a lot of time in covering our work and subjects. It is concerning as we do not know if we will ever go back to online school, so therefore, we have to work a lot harder with very little time.”
“Wearing masks, social distancing, hand sanitising and disinfecting everything are practices I never thought I would have to do daily at school, but it is for my safety and that of others.”
Looking ahead, Conway hopes to study a third-level agriculture-related degree, with travel also on his bucket list.
“I would like to have the opportunity to travel abroad and experience farming systems abroad and learn from the experience.”
“I am not sure what agriculture course I would like to do in college. There is a large variety of agriculture courses and non-agricultural courses to choose from that I have an interest in.”
“I hope that to bring a lot of knowledge, experience and up-to-date practices to my home farm and carry on this long-standing tradition for another generation. Agriculture is our culture.” Conway concluded.