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Learning by considering the alternatives

December 7, 2020

Alan Hamilton graduated from CAFRE with a Foundation Degree in Agriculture and Rural Studies at Greenmount Campus, CAFRE. Alan farms in partnership with his parents, and recently they have been joined in the business by his wife Amy, who also works off farm as a nutritional adviser for a local feed firm. He farms 260 acres outside Broughshane, milking 110 dairy cows with associated followers and also runs a beef enterprise from the dairy herd rearing them to 22-24 months. 

“I returned to the family farm in 2015 after completing a Foundation Degree in Agriculture and Rural Studies at Greenmount Campus,. Whilst studying there I completed my work placement on a robotic dairy farm. That gave me an insight into a different milk production system with cows housed all year round. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and my time spent there. The farms provided an excellent practical learning resource enabling me to ‘learn by doing’”, Alan says.

“Since returning home, I have focussed heavily on grassland management and achieving increased milk from forage through improved grassland management. I have also concentrated on reseeding, some of which has used hybrid varieties to improve sward production and quality. I have also invested in out of parlour feeders to better target the feeding of cows at different stages of lactation”, Alan commented.

“I maintain my links with CAFRE and staff at Greenmount through my involvement in the Business Development Groups (BDG). I joined the Broughshane BDG shortly after my return to the family business. Being a member of this group has given me the opportunity to visit other member’s farms where there is always something new to see and learn. It also gives me ideas on practices and technologies that could be implemented on my own farm with the lively discussion at group meetings highlighting the various pros and cons. It is always good to see and share ideas in a relaxed informal way at these farm meetings and attending the BDG is always an excuse to get off farm and enjoy a bit of craic with the rest of the members”, concluded Alan.