Every year, the seniors from our brilliant Youth Development Programme take part in the Senior Conference which, this year, takes place from this Friday 23rd February to Sunday 25th February. The event will take place in Ireland, with a packed itinerary which will provide the youngsters with some great insight and information about the commercial beef industry. Sarah Haire of Dawn Meats has been instrumental in the organisation of what is set to be a wonderful weekend, and had the following to say:
‘’The forthcoming Aberdeen-Angus YDP Senior conference will give the participants a chance to see three different farming systems in Ireland as well as hear from some key organisations in Irish agriculture from breeding through to retail. The participants will be assured of a warm welcome and will get a flavour of the industry programmes aimed at improving profitability on farm, hearing how the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation uses data to drive genetic improvement across the industry, getting an insight into the Irish retail market from Aldi and learning about the influence of agriculture in the media from the Irish Farmers Journal. The depth and breadth of information the participants will get over the course of the weekend will help them bring new ideas back to their own farms and give them the knowledge to shape discussions on the future of British agriculture.’’
The event will kick off on Friday 23rd February when the participants will arrive in Dublin and have the evening to spend as they please, with plenty of interesting possibilities to keep them busy. On the Saturday morning, they’ll get the chance to visit Kilbeggan Organic Foods at Ballard Organic Farm in Co. Westmeath, where they’ll get insight into the work done at Kilbeggan’s organic beef farm and their organic food products.
The senior conference will then be held at Central Hotel in Tullamore where attendees will get to hear from some highly interesting and knowledgeable speakers. Ciaran Costello of ICBF will speak to the youngsters about beef breeding, Rob Farrell of Aldi will cover retail and Louise from the Irish Farmers Journal will talk about agricultural journalism and the rise of social media. There will also be a session on antibiotics to bring the conference to the close. Dinner will then be held at 7.30pm before Paul Nolan of Dawn Meats will be the after-dinner speaker which is sure to be another great session.
On the Sunday 25th February, attendees will be treated to two farm visits, the first of which is Grass on the Bypass Tullamore. This is a project run by Teagasc to demonstrate the best practice in grassland management for beef and sheep farmers. The project is run on a 9 ha field, with 600 metres of road frontage directly on to the N52 Tullamore bypass. The project looks at extending the grazing season in the field as well as increasing the output through improved grassland management.
The next visit will be with Mark Maxwell, one of the BETTER Farm programme members in Kilbeggan. This programme is run by the Irish Farmers Journal, Teagas, Dawn Meats, Kepak, ABP and FDB Insurance, and aims to increase the output and profitability of the participants through best practice. Mark runs his own suckler to beef system and started the BETTER Farm programme with the intention of increasing his herd from 70 to 100 cows in a slip calving Autumn and Spring calving herd, with stock finished on farm. After five years on the programme, he is running 120 cows, with a calving interval of 357 days and finishing all progeny between 20 and 26 months.
The participants will then leave Dublin after what will undoubtedly have been a valuable and memorable experience, providing them with insight, knowledge and ideas for their own future careers.