My name is Bryan McKenna and I am currently participating in the 2022 HerdPlus Graduate Programme. From a young age, I have been heavily involved in our home dairy farm and recently completed 4 years of Agricultural Science at Munster Technological University Tralee.  From this exposure, I developed a keen interest in animal breeding and performance. I wanted an opportunity that would provide the necessary environment for me to learn and enhance my knowledge while also having a role in the development of the dairy and beef industry. With the positive impact that the HerdPlus service is having on the development of our dairy herd and the industry, I knew that this programme would allow me to achieve my goals.

I am now 6 months into the programme and I can safely say it has been the fastest 6 months I have put down. This is a result of various experiences and the exposure I am receiving to the industry. If I had to pick a favorite aspect of the programme to date it would be representing ICBF at various events and conferences. I am just back from attending the British Cattle Breeders Conference where I had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the leading experts in the field. This trip really highlighted to me, the importance of the central database and the data ICBF provides to the industry here in Ireland.

So what’s it like to work in ICBF? From the minute I started I felt very welcomed and supported not just through the training process but also on a day-to-day basis. Being surrounded by a top-class team has definitely made the learning process a lot easier. In terms of questions and queries there is always someone available to give assistance and advice. The new state of the art office with exceptional facilities has provided the ideal working environment allowing me to learn and develop a broad skillset. The atmosphere in the ICBF office is always very positive and friendly with weekly updates held within the HerdPlus team and across the company showcasing the immense work that is being done on various projects within the different teams.

Every day working in ICBF is a school day, no two days are the same you are constantly learning and challenging yourself with various projects and tasks. Having one of the largest central databases in the world is a very interesting aspect of working in ICBF. Currently, there are over 2.5 million genotypes, 118 billion SNP’s and over 1 billion pieces of phenotypic data are stored. Having this database provides valuable information for farmers in both the dairy and beef industry to make better farming decisions on the ground.

While I’m only in the company for a short time it is clear to see the positive impact ICBF is having on the industry. The services provided by ICBF are there to aid the farmer in making better farming decisions to increase efficiency and drive profitability.

Prior to starting the Graduate Programme, I didn’t realise the volume of work ICBF does for the industry. One thing people find interesting about my job is the involvement I have on various projects and tasks as part of the HerdPlus team such as the dispatching of genomic samples, Gene Ireland sign-ups and attending events.

For students considering this programme I would say immerse yourself in the experience and keep an open mind. You will receive training from top-class experts within the company. You will become equipped with an extensive knowledge of the dairy and beef industry and a skill set that will help you achieve any aspirations you may have for yourself within the sector.

Finally, would I recommend the HerdPlus Graduate Programme? Yes, the programme is as good as you will get in terms of working in the dairy and beef industry. You are kept updated and involved in the implementation of the latest changes happening in the industry such as the introduction of the new beef scheme SCEP and on the dairy side the new changes to the EBI. If you see yourself having a career in the industry this Graduate Programme is definitely a great starting point.

If you are interested in applying for the 2023/24 HerdPlus Graduate Programme, please send your Cover Letter and CV to [email protected]. Closing date for applications is Friday 7th April.