The Youth Development Programme Final is fast approaching! We managed to catch up with the 2015 YDP winner Stephanie Dick, age 23, from Mains of Throsk who is kindly providing cattle for the YDP final from her own pedigree Stephick Aberdeen-Angus herd. Stephanie tells us about her time abroad that she was awarded alongside her 2015 senior YDP title as well as how she feels she benefited from taking part in the YDP programme.
What are you doing currently in terms of work?
I am currently working full time on our family farm. I work mainly with the cattle alongside our stocksman, Stewart Bett, but we also have a large arable business that I help out with during the busy times of the year, however I definitely favour the cattle! We have a three-generation family farm where I work with my father and grandfather running our herd of pedigree Limousin cattle as well as my own newly established Aberdeen-Angus herd and a commercial herd too.
Where did you travel to for your period abroad?
There were so many places that could of hosted my study trip abroad but I chose to go to Express Ranches in Yukon, Oklahoma in the USA. They run an 11,000 head of cattle operation with 8000 pedigree Aberdeen-Angus making them the largest pure breed operation in North America.
Tell us more about your time in the USA?
My trip to the USA was absolutely amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip or a nicer location. The owners of the ranch are great family friends and I have visited the ranch before so I was lucky to already know a lot about the general set up. I got to work on all aspects of the ranch which was great experience. All of the workers specialise in their own specific area so I was able to rotate with different teams for example the team that work with the bulls or the team at the show barn. I also got the chance to visit another ranch and do some calving and weaning. However, my favourite place was definitely the Embryo Transfer centre. Express Ranches have an on-site embryo centre where they do on average 16 flushes a week. I ended up spending most my time here with Roy Middleton and Stuart Schultz, who gave me an incredible insight and shared their expertise with me – we could put up to 80 embryos in recipients in one day! The atmosphere was always fun and light hearted and the knowledge that I was provided with was vast, I am very grateful for the hands on experience.
I think one of my highlights would have to be when I visited a bull stud and took part in a course about pregnancy checking cows. This is a skill that is very valuable and useful to bring home to my farm. However the whole experience of learning and making new friends is what I loved the most!
How do you feel you benefited from taking part in the YDP?
YDP is a great programme and benefits everyone that takes part. As I was new to the world of Aberdeen-Angus it was great experience to get familiar with the breed but also to network with other young people within the breed and meet not only friends that I will keep for life but people that I could potentially do business with in the future. I have learnt a lot at both the workshops and the senior conferences. It has given me the chance to travel also and grow as a person, and it is safe to say there is definitely a lot more to YDP than clipping cows and stock judging – it’s like a little family!
What tips would you give to any young enthusiasts in the world of cattle farming now?
I would tell young people to get involved in every opportunity that they can, take advantage of these youth programmes that are on offer and don’t be shy to get involved. The youth programmes today have so much to offer youngsters and I have been very fortunate to have success within them and travel a lot as a result, so I would definitely urge young people to get involved. The cattle industry is full of great and generous people that love to see youngsters taking the reins and leading the industry forward, so don’t be shy to get involved, ask questions and give everything a go!
We would like to thank Stephanie for her time and also for providing cattle for this year’s final. We would also like to wish her the very best of luck for everything in the future and we look forward to seeing more from her in years to come!