Young Farmers profiles: Shannon McNiece, 20, on her educational journey from Northern Ireland to East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 08:19 28 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:19 28 March 2018

Shannon McNiece, Diss Young Farmers.

Shannon McNiece, Diss Young Farmers.

Norfolk Young Farmers

As part of our regular series of profiles on the region’s Young Farmers’ Club members, 20-year-old SHANNON McNIECE, an agriculture student from Northern Ireland, talks about her year in East Anglia on a Gressingham Foods Scholarship from Harper Adams University.

In Northern Ireland, my home farm grazes 400 Suffolk and Texel cross-bred ewes, bred for meat and wool.

I have been involved in carrying out the daily duties of ewe husbandry including administration of antibiotics, and selection and distribution of nutritional diets. We use early indoor lambing. We also contract work using a mobile sheep-shearing trailer and monsoon sheep shower trailer which aids the removal of pests such as blowfly strike, lice and scab.

I have gained experience working on several dairy herds, including a herd of 400 Holsteins, on a herringbone parlour. While working here I supported herd health including controls for mastitis, cow performance, lameness and other animal husbandry methods to maximise comfort and reduce cow stress, which is significant for production.

Coming from an agricultural family background, I choose to study BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science at Harper Adams University [in Shropshire], as I feel farming today must be productive and efficient for successful animal development and financial income. This degree provides professional technology and science, allowing me to work on modern and diverse animal production systems.

I am in my third year of studying and began my work placement with Gressingham Foods in July. This placement has provided me with an insight into Gressingham’s duck, geese and turkey farms, including working on breeding farms. The ducks begin to lay eggs at about 21 weeks old with a laying life of up to 52 weeks. Eggs collected from breeding farms are hatched within 28 days of setting in the incubators. Day-old ducklings are transported in temperature-controlled vehicles to farms across Suffolk.

I am currently working on one of Gressingham turkey farms, rearing 80,000 bronze and white turkeys. General duties include checking turkeys for feed, water and bird health and welfare, as well as maintaining free-range paddocks with grass, straw chopping and wood shavings.

After moving to Suffolk for a year, I have been warmly welcomed and met many new friends through joining Diss Young Farmers, which has been brilliant for me to fit into the Suffolk life – getting involved in weekly meetings and events, such as playing hockey at Friday night training and hopefully playing in Young Farmers competitions.

I am looking forward to forthcoming events, in particular celebrating 75 years of Diss Young Farmers with the anniversary ball being held in June.


Name: Shannon McNiece

Age: 20

Occupation: Student at Harper Adams University

How long have you been a Young Farmer?: A few months

YFC club: Diss

• Diss YFC meets at Burston Pavilion, Tucks Mill, on Wednesday evenings. For more information about Norfolk Young Farmers, contact the county office on 01603 731307.

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