Two Kerry students are hoping that a device which they created as part of the Student Enterprise Programme will improve safety at calving time.

Katelyn Curtin, a 5th year student at Presentation Secondary School in Castleisland, said that her background in beef farming provided inspiration for the project.

“I would have seen the dangers associated with the calving process many times and I decided that something needed to be done about this,” she told Agriland.

Orlaith Buckley, who developed the device with Katelyn, said that the project allowed her to use her business and marketing skills. However, she admitted that she had a lot to learn about farming.

“You would know the bare minimum but there’s so much nuance to farming you wouldn’t really think about it.

“I got to see truly how much farmers do care for their livestock. It’s not just seen as just business. They do see them as more,” Orlaith said.

Katelyn Curtin and Orlaith Buckley
Katelyn Curtin and Orlaith Buckley

“The name of the enterprise is Mearscaoilte Lao (MSL); it’s the Irish translation for ‘quick calf release’. We chose the name in Irish to make our offering unique and also contribute to Irish heritage,” Orlaith explained.

The students designed their safety mechanism which instantly releases the ropes on a calving jack by flicking a lever after looking at other products on the market.

This included examining door hinges and the metal attachments on glass jars.

The MSL calving jack safety mechanism
The MSL calving jack safety mechanism

Katelyn said that the device is already being used successfully on her own farm.

“We would hope that this product would go on to help many people across Ireland and maybe even across the world in farming.

“Our overall goal is to make farming safer for everyone and we believe our product could help with this,” she said.

Health and Safety Authority (HSA) data shows that livestock accounted for almost 20% of all farm fatalities in the past decade.

Student Enterprise Programme

The Kerry students, along with their teacher Edward Clarke, are among the companies shortlisted for the finals of this year’s national Student Enterprise Awards.

The initiative run by the country’s Local Enterprise Offices allows students to experience the realities of entrepreneurship.

This includes developing a business idea to producing a product, researching the market, promotion, managing the books and generating profits.

Since the programme began in 2003, over 300,000 students have taken part from schools across the country.

“It’s been a massive learning experience, so that’s been really fun for us. Being able to see all of the different ideas from other people, even in the Kerry finals, was really amazing.

“We’re really nervous but we’re really excited to be up there and showcase our product,” Katelyn said.

National finals

From over 24,000 student companies entered this year, the top five have been selected in the senior, intermediate and junior categories.

They will take part in the in-person final at the Helix in Dublin on Wednesday (May 18), with Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar announcing the winners.

Among the other agricultural-themed businesses to be recognised in this year’s programme were students from Boherbue Comprehensive School in Co. Cork for their Pole Pals device, which carries pigtail poles while a farmer is strip grazing.

Also honoured in the intellectual property category was Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, for a cattle-trailer safety bar which offers protection while transporting livestock.