Farm expansion at Gurteen Agricultural College in full swing

The farm at Gurteen College is in expansion mode with a number of exciting developments underway.

The construction of a 30-unit dairy parlour is expected to conclude shortly.

“We decided to allocate 250ac of land to dairying – which effectively meant 250 black and white cows. The current parlour couldn’t cope with that, so a new DeLaval parlour is expected to be completed within the next six weeks,” said Gurteen College principal, Mike Pearson.

“As of yet, we haven’t received any state funding for the work on what we regard as a good commercial parlour,” he said.

We have to be able to teach students and milk cows there. We will have some automation built in; but we also have to be able to use it as a basic parlour for milking cows.

An additional cubicle shed for 120 cows is also needed on site and planning permission is being sought for that.

“We have secured some funding towards building an additional classroom; but we have to get more funding to allow this project to continue,” the principal said.

Sheep shed

The sheep shed is also being extended to carry a flock of 450. “That will allow all sheep skills teaching to be done within the main yard at Gurteen. Work on that is in progress,” said Mike.

80 suckler cows are kept on the farm which also incorporates 100ac of tillage.

An energy efficiency project also took place recently around the farm. It involved changing all the lighting to energy efficient LED lights and installing 50kW of solar PV panels.

“We are also looking at installing a waste product irrigation system and a biomass irrigation system,” the principal said.

Gurteen College has approximately 500 students at present. They participate in a wide variety of courses – both full-time and part-time – including an equine business course in conjunction with Athlone IT.

Updates about Gurteen College and farm are available on its Facebook page.