OLIVER McKenna from Eskra in County Tyrone is a beef farmer who is continuing to learn and increase his knowledge of agriculture with the support of CAFRE.
He says: “I farm along with my family in the Eskra which is a lovely part of the country to live in. We keep 60 suckler cows and followers and I have recently been appointed as a Technology Demonstration Farmer. I have always loved farming and am keen to learn and keep up to date with new ideas which will help me to continue to develop the farm.
“I have continued my learning journey through membership of my local dairying Business Development Group (BDG) and more recently on a Technology Demonstration Farm visit.
“As a member of a BDG, I really enjoy the chance to visit other farms and be updated on a whole range of issues relevant to my farm business. I especially enjoy the discussion aspect of the group meetings and it is always good to hear what others have to say and to learn from their experiences.
“I also benchmark using the CAFRE Benchmarking Programme which I find useful in letting me see how well my business is performing and also to identify areas that need improved.
“Recently I took the opportunity to attend the CAFRE Beef Fertility Technology Demonstration Farm of Douglas McKenzie at Moy, County Tyrone, as a member of my BDG group and found it to be a very useful, interesting and informative experience.
“The visit occurred in October and we were able to visit the farm in person, which was great. I enjoyed the visit greatly and learned a lot. The visit began with a presentation by Douglas covering all of the technologies that he uses on his farm to aid his management of suckler cow fertility. These included heat detection, pregnancy diagnosis, the use of herd health plans, performance recording and the selection of performance recorded sires. While maintaining our social distance we were then able to view his mostly Aubrac suckler cow herd in the field and then some of young stock.
“One of the highlights of the visit was to see the Aubrac stock, which looked great, and the key take home messages that I will remember were the need to identify unproductive cows, the importance of using technology to aid farm management decisions and how pregnancy diagnosis aids winter feed management.
“There are many challenges facing all farm business, including my own, at the moment. All the more reason to continue to look to see what improvements I can make that are within my control.
“I hope to continue to learn through my BDG group and I would encourage others to join a group and to also take up the opportunity to visit a number of the excellent Technology Demonstration Farms provided by CAFRE.”
The Business Development Groups Scheme and Technology Demonstration Farm Schemes are part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).