By Claire Windrum, Carryduff
BSc (Hons) Agricultural Technology Degree Course Student (2015-2019)
I have been very fortunate to have grown up in a farming family, where my grandfather and uncle run their beef and sheep enterprises and silage contracting business, outside Ballygowan in County Down.
The beef enterprise is managed as a commercial suckler to beef system, finishing all steers and heifers at two-years-old. The sheep enterprise is also managed commercially, using Texel and Charollais rams, with lambing commencing in early March.
Knowing that I wanted to pursue a career within the agri-food industry, in 2015 I chose to study the BSc (Hons) Degree in Agricultural Technology and Professional Studies course, provided jointly by CAFRE, Greenmount Campus and Queen’s University Belfast. The four year course involved studying at Greenmount Campus for two years, followed by my placement year at Dunbia, and the final year being completed back at Queen’s.
After graduating with a 2:1 in May 2019, I immediately started employment with Dunbia as an agricultural graduate. After spending time in various departments throughout the business, I was delighted to move into an agricultural management position. My current role largely involves the management of the Co-op Account, co-ordinating the different beef and lamb farming groups, supporting joint agricultural strategies and representation at agricultural shows and events.
I am also actively involved in other projects such as the Integrated Calf Scheme, and more recently the Northern Ireland Sheep Programme, which is a joint initiative between CAFRE, Dunbia and the Irish Farmers’ Journal.
In November, 2019 I had the opportunity to visit CAFRE’s Greenmount Hill Farm with the Northern Ireland Sheep Programme participants to see the recently constructed sheep house and sheep handling facilities and to hear how the latest EID technologies are being used.
At the end of November I went on a DAERA/CAFRE Farm Innovation Visit to Wales where we had the opportunity to visit the Welsh Winter Fair and a number of large sheep farms. The visit concluded with a tour of the Dunbia Llanybydder site, which has the capacity to process approximately 40,000 lambs per week.
From graduating and entering the world of full-time employment, none of this would have been possible without what I had learned and the invaluable experiences I gained while studying at CAFRE.
I would highly recommend CAFRE as a career starting point to get into the agri-food industry. The atmosphere, lecturers and course content made my two years studying at Greenmount Campus the most enjoyable experience – something I will never forget.