Women in agriculture profile featuring Alise Callaghan

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​Place you call home:

Kilkeel, Co. Down.


I work as a full-time farm vet as well as working on our family farm with my parents and brother.

Alise Callaghan works as a full-time farm vet as well as working on the family farm.Alise Callaghan works as a full-time farm vet as well as working on the family farm.
Alise Callaghan works as a full-time farm vet as well as working on the family farm.

Farming commodity:

We farm approximately 80 cattle on a dairy calf to beef system through the Blade Farming Scheme run by ABP. Whilst this is the main venture on the farm, we also run a small herd of commercial suckler cows with the aim of breeding and showing commercial show cattle.

How did you become involved in farming?

Growing up on a family farm, it is all I have ever known. School holidays were always spent on the farm helping out where I could. This instilled my love for farming and led me towards my chosen career path of becoming a farm vet. Being able to work with farmers and to help them farm more efficiently and to improve the well being and productivity of the animals they farm, is very rewarding. My background in farming at home certainly helps me in my job as a vet on a daily basis.

Earliest farming memory:

I am not sure exactly what age I was, but I can remember during the summer holidays from school, cycling to and from out farms after my father who would have been driving the tractor checking stock or carrying out field work. Looking back, I was probably more of a hinderance than a help to him then, but it is these memories and that early exposure to farming life that instils our love for it today.

What personal characteristics did you develop from agriculture?

Having been lucky enough to be brought up on a farm and to be given tasks and responsibilities on farm from an early age, I think developed a sense of independence when I was very young. You learn very quickly that you get back from farming what you put into it and that turning up even when things are not going to plan, being consistent and trusting your instincts, will ultimately pay off.

Life lesson learnt from farming:

“If nothing changes, nothing will change”. The agricultural industry is constantly changing and adapting to meet the ever-changing demands of both the consumer and government authorities. That means that those of us involved in the industry need to be willing and able to change and adapt accordingly. The most successful people within the industry are those that are constantly looking ahead trying to seek out the latest opportunities and avert the next possible challenge. If we become set in our ways and unwilling to change, we are in danger of being left behind.

What do you enjoy most about the farming lifestyle?

I enjoy coming home from work and having the opportunity to work on the farm. It allows me to push forward with individual tasks and goals on farm and experience first hand the fruits of my labour. Whilst at times it can be challenging and time consuming, I wouldn’t change it as I think being out in nature, working with the land and animals, greatly benefits me and compliments my job to a great degree.

Describe a farmer in three words?

Resilient, compassionate, innovative.

What would you like the public to know about Northern Ireland farming?

It is vital that the public are made aware of the commitment, compassion and dedication that goes into each stage of the supply chain from farm to fork, in order to provide the population of Northern Ireland with the highest quality, fully traceable fresh ingredients. If consumers in return support the industry and shop locally, it goes a long way to safeguarding the future of the agricultural industry within Northern Ireland.

If you could give farmers/farming families/farming community one piece of advice what would it be?

Be proud of who you are and what you are producing. From visiting many different farms through my work and knowing the humble nature of the majority of farmers, oftentimes we are underselling ourselves. The quality of the produce produced by Northern Irish famers is second to none and is something that each and every producer should be proud of and be actively promoting.

What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agriculture industry?

The agricultural industry in Northern Ireland is rapidly evolving, making it a very exciting industry to be part of. There are very few other industries which offer such a wide range of job prospects. Also with facilities such as CAFRE on our doorstep offering a range of courses for a range of different entry levels, means that a career in agriculture is very accessible in Northern Ireland.

What are your hopes for the future of Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry?

I hope that the industry continues to grow and succeed in producing high quality, sustainable food. In recent years the industry has overcame many challenges and shown resilience in challenging times. I hope the members of the public become more informed about the agricultural industry and that the industry as a whole gets the credit it deserves.

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