14 April 2000

Gap year fills gaps

ONE of the UKs leading dairy researchers endorsed the principle of a gap year for hopeful young dairy farmers.

Sinclair Mayne, head of dairy research at the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland at Hillsborough, Co Down, said the best way for young producers to open their minds and learn was to travel for at least a year and study dairy farming abroad. In his opinion this was the best move for any young dairy farmer.

"The worst thing you can do is to come straight home to farm, because this leads to following the same traditions and farming practices that have gone on before."

Travelling and experiencing dairy farming abroad allowed young, new dairy producers to challenge what had been practised before.

"Most innovators in dairy farming are first generation and they do not have the same preconceptions. Gaining a formal education to learn basic skills is a good idea and then take a year to see what happens in dairy farming elsewhere," he told delegates.