Angus competition boosts Kate’s agri career efforts

With more young women making their mark with agri careers, they are blazing a trail for the efforts of up and coming talent such as Kate Mulvey from Co. Westmeath.

Katie is a member of one of the finalist teams in this year’s Certified Irish Angus schools’ competition.

“I definitely would love to pursue a career in agriculture. All I’ve ever wanted to do from a very young age is veterinary medicine. I also hope to keep suckler farming part-time along with veterinary,” she said.

The 100ac family farm has a beef suckler herd and also a flock of sheep, the student explained.

My father has always bred Texel sheep but from a young age I have loved Suffolk sheep. One day, I persuaded him to buy me a Suffolk ewe that I named Sooty; I made quite a lucrative business for myself and sold her lambs – and bought more ewes every year.

“We now breed Texel and Suffolk sheep,” said Kate whose grandfather, Tom McGahon launched his collection of stories and poetry ‘Fleeting Memory’ in 2018.

She is a member of a team from Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon that is one of five school groups chosen to rear five Irish Angus calves for 18 months as part of a schools’ competition run in association with processing partners ABP and Kepak.

The Longford group join students from: Boherbue Comprehensive School, Cork; Gorey Community School, Wexford; Carrick-On-Shannon Community School, Leitrim; and The Abbey School, Tipperary town, as the successful applicants for this year’s competition.

Intrigued

“A few years ago one of my neighbours reached the final stage in the Certified Irish Angus schools’ competition.

“He recommended the competition highly to myself and another one of my teammates. We were intrigued about the competition as we both come from huge farming backgrounds and love all things agriculture,” said Kate.

“Another thing that inspired myself and my teammates – Rachel Maguire, Aileen Briody, Ciara Gavigan – to enter the competition was that no group from our school had ever got past the interview stage in the competition and we wanted to change that with our efforts,” she said.

First of all we had to create a three-minute video stating how we felt we would benefit from the competition and how we were going to promote the Angus breed. This took several weeks of dedication, communication and hard work.

“The next stage of the competition was interview-based. We had to ensure we gathered correct information and were able to present ourselves in a professional manner using the correct body language and communication with the interviewers,” Kate said.

The student explained that the third stage of the competition was the semi-final in Croke Park.

“This was an exhibition of our efforts and findings so far where we would also be interviewed by representatives from the competition,” she added.

“We are through to the final stage of the competition which is where we receive the calves in September and rear them for 18 months under a theme brief,” said the young Moyvore woman.

The calves will be reared for a total of 18 months on my teammate Rachel Maguire’s farm in Emper, Co. Westmeath. We plan to nourish the calves as best we can with meal and fresh grass.

“We will also use the calves as a way of promoting the Angus breed on our social media platforms on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat.”

Sustainability

Their project is based on researching sustainability and investigating ways of reducing our impact on the environment.

“The title is ‘The impact agriculture has on the environment and market for Irish Angus produce’.

Producing lighter and younger stock that meet market requirements can help to improve the overall beef output and at the same time it can reduce the carbon footprint.

“As Angus are a lighter breed of cattle and can also be slaughtered at a younger age in comparison to other continental breeds, we believe that this breed can help reduce the effect that farming has on our carbon footprint and the environment.

“By using the Angus breed there is less harm being done to the environment and [it] is the right step for a happier and healthier future,” Kate said.

“Reaching the final has been a surreal experience both for us and our school. It has developed our personalities and confidence in so many ways. It has also given us an insight into what the agriculture industry is like and what the future holds for us.

We have benefited hugely from this competition so far and our future in the competition can only get better.

“We cannot recommend this competition to transition year groups highly enough. It will give them something to work towards and give them the opportunity to develop their skills in so many ways which will benefit them hugely in the future,” said Kate.

She expressed thanks to everyone who has helped the group in their efforts for competition so far, especially: principal Josephine Donohue; vice-principal Gary Kenny; and agricultural science teacher and mentor Avril Murphy.

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