Two transition year students in Roscommon Community College have impressed with a backing bar for a cattle crush.

Gavin Moran and Michael Hanley who are both 16 years-of-age, developed the backing bar after Gavin sustained injuries during the summer while working with cattle. The accident happened when he was holding the traditional backing bar in the crush.

Michael said: “The beast kicked and pinched his hands several times. Gavin got fed up with the unpredictability of the backing bar and started to investigate better, cheaper, simple and lightweight backing bars on the market, but found that what looked good quality, was expensive.

“The cheap and lightweight ones broke easily and the better alternatives were heavy and permanently mounted to the crush, so he started researching a solution.

“He came up with several designs, but the most efficient one that ticked all the boxes was our current L-shape design with the rubber pad to prevent it from slipping on the bar.”

A discussion in school one day led to Michael, who is from a beef and sheep farm, and Gavin who is from a suckler and beef farm, joining forces.

“Gavin was telling me about his enterprise idea and said he would need help to make it possible. He suggested that I should come on board with all my innovative ideas and skills, which led to the formation of our enterprise – GM Engineering ROS,” said Michael.

Backing bar

The reaction has been hugely positive, according to the students: “To date, every farmer that we have sold one to had nothing but praise for our simple but effective backing bar, with our unique selling point being the rubber pad, which ensures no slipping or bouncing bars on cattle crushes when under pressure from livestock.”

The product costs €150, excluding shipping costs. The students are currently selling it through their website, social media and face-to-face interaction with their target market.

They are in talks with their local general merchant and veterinary supplies outlet which they said, are eager to stock the product.

“Recently we have secured commitments from well-known farming influencers who are keen to be involved in demonstration our backing bar,” said Michael.

Gavin and Michael will represent Co. Roscommon in the All-Ireland Student Enterprise Awards which will take place on May 9.

They are also through to the All-Ireland final of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) student enterprise competition, run by Foroige.

Back bar

“We have had the opportunity to share our business journey and advertise our product on Shannonside FM. This has really given us a true experience of setting up and running a business. It is challenging at times, but really doable.

“We might never have dipped our toes in setting up a business if it were not for the enterprise module in transition year, and all the support.

“We are so appreciative of all the assistance we have received since starting this journey. From our families, to our teacher, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) representatives, farming community, farmer organisations and suppliers,” he said.