My name is Kane Boal and I graduated in May 2022 with an Honours Degree in Agricultural Science from Munster Technological University, Tralee. Prior to finishing my degree, I was exploring my options as to what route I would take after college and when I saw the HerdPlus Graduate Programme advertised, it was difficult to ignore this fantastic opportunity. This programme appealed to me as I have a keen interest in cattle breeding and ICBF have been at the forefront of this on an International level for many years.

Upon starting the programme in September 2022, I was aware of what ICBF does for Irish agriculture in terms of the Economic Breeding Index (EBI) for dairy herds and the Eurostar Index for beef herds. It is only when you set foot inside the company doors, you actually realise how much work and collaboration there is with other Irish organisations and also those which are further afield. At this stage of the Graduate Programme, there are many new experiences and areas I have become more familiar with. Being able to provide farmers with better data and information about their animals to make a significant difference to their enterprises is really rewarding at both a company and personal level.

Working life at ICBF is very enjoyable and feels effortless to me in a way because I have everything I need under one roof. Their new state of the art building in Ballincollig, Co. Cork provides a fantastic working environment for all employees and the emphasis placed on behavioural standards ensures a healthy and supportive place to work and develop new skills. The most interesting thing that has appealed to me since beginning the Graduate Programme is the amount of data that ICBF stores in relation to other similar organisations worldwide.

Talking to farmers on the phone is what I find interesting as no one farmer is the same and therefore, queries generally differ. Opportunities to attend different industry events from time to time both here in Ireland and abroad help to put into perspective how unique ICBF is as a central database.

The vision and direction of ICBF are very clear to me. By helping and assisting farmers through science to achieve high levels of genetic gain in their herds will help to ensure Irish farming systems remain viable, sustainable and profitable in the future. With the many challenges that we are currently faced with, this will be crucial. In my current role, I contribute to this vision and direction by communicating and answering farmer queries daily whether it be on the phone or via email, to ensure they can apply superior genetics and research in animal breeding to their own farming systems.

I would highly recommend anyone to apply for the HerdPlus Graduate Programme. Particularly if you have a strong interest in cattle breeding you will gain insightful knowledge and expertise in the quickly evolving world of bovine breeding. As well as this, you get the opportunity to work with some of the best technology and get exposure to some of the projects that are ongoing at the moment which will underpin bovine genetics in the near future, with DNA Calf Registration being a prime example. It is a great place to work and is something that will look well on your CV in the future, regardless of your career choice.

The main piece of advice I would give to the incoming HerdPlus graduates is to come into the role with an open mind, take in as much information as possible and ask plenty of questions as the staff here are leading experts in their field.

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.