Education options towards a career in dairy farming
The next generation of farm owners and managers should avail of every training opportunity available to them in order to achieve the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to secure the long term future of their dairy business. EmmaLouise Coffey, Education Programme Co-ordinator has the details
The Irish national dairy herd is continuing to grow, both within existing herds and through dairy start-ups. The sustainability of the expanding industry is reliant on skilled farmers who have the ability to manage financials and people as well as day-to-day farm tasks. Furthermore, due to the rapid and significant change that is occurring within the industry, farmers need to keep up to date with skills and knowledge, adopting new technologies and methods relevant to their farming system. The next generation of farm owners and managers should avail of every training opportunity available to them in order to achieve the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to secure the long term future of their dairy business. Work experience with high quality dairy farmers reinforces learning experiences and offers mentors throughout future farming careers.
Advanced Certificate in Dairy Herd Management
The level 6 programme provides graduates with the knowledge and technical skills required to operate dairy herds. Having completed one year in agricultural college, students typically spend a further 16 weeks in college and 16 weeks of practical learning with a host farmer in Ireland and abroad. Course content is a combination of technical (grassland management, breeding, nutrition and health) and farm business planning modules. Students who successfully complete the level 6 programme have the skills and competencies to join the dairy industry as a skilled operative. Progression from the level 6 programme includes PDDFM or agricultural courses in the Institutes of Technologies.
Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management
The level 7 specific purpose programme is the gold standard for farm ownership and farm management training. The programme aims to provide enthusiastic dairy farmers with the latest research and best practice management knowledge to successfully run large scale dairy operations.
The main component of the programme is two years professional work experience based on high performing dairy farms in Ireland, with an opportunity to complete a placement abroad. During this time there is approximately 20 days course work, where students further develop a broad range of skills in technical farming as well as developing a greater understanding of business and financial skills and people management. Course days are typically delivered at the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre at Moorepark and Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural College. Course days incorporate both formal (lectures) and informal (discussion groups) training, delivered by an integrated team of highly specialised Teagasc staff including Moorepark researchers, college teachers and dairy specialists. Guest lectures are invited from key industry stakeholders and highly successful commercial dairy farmers. Students who successfully complete the PDDFM have the skills and competencies to successfully manage large scale dairy farms to a high level.
Applicants to the PDDFM programme must possess a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture or an equivalent agricultural award. Course fees are currently €990 per annum. The host farmers pay students at least minimum wage; currently €9.80 per hour worked.
Continuous training opportunities
Due to the considerable change that is occurring within the Irish dairy sector, farmers must respond through continuous training in order to meet new skills and knowledge requirements. Teagasc offer a wide range of both formal and informal training opportunities to meet future needs to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of dairy farms. Such training opportunities include discussion groups, workshops, information days, conferences and short training courses.
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