BY MARK ALLEN
NATIONAL DIPLOMA IN AGRICUTURE GRADUATE
HELLO, my name is Mark Allen and I completed a National Diploma in Agriculture at CAFRE in 2008 after which I returned home where alongside my father I manage a herd of 200 dairy cows.
Participating in the National Diploma course allowed me the opportunity to learn about various aspects of managing a dairy herd. In particular the year spent on placement on a commercial dairy unit allowed me to develop a range of skills which I now use on my own farm.
Going through the course also gave me the confidence to apply for the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) Dairy Student of the Year Competition in which I reached the final and was placed second overall.
Since returning home I have focused on various aspects of the business in an effort to improve performance and profitability. This has included reseeding a significant portion of the farm and developing and implementing protocols to improve herd fertility and the lifespan of the overall dairy herd.
I have always felt that it is important to continue to learn about the latest developments in dairying. Since graduating I have attended various short courses being developed by CAFRE Dairying Development Advisers. I also joined the local Business Development Group and find it helpful as it allows me to exchange ideas and share views with like-minded farmers.
I was also fortunate enough to be selected to take part on a study tour of calf rearing systems in the Netherlands through the Farm Innovation (FIV) project. I found the experience to be very interesting and would recommend the programme to anyone.