Lexington, Ky. — Following a rigorous application and screening process, 11 Chinese students from seven agricultural universities in China have been selected for the Alltech-Elite Cattleman Program Alliance (ECPA) Ireland Internship Program. At the end of January, they will depart for Ireland to start a five-week internship with Alltech’s funding.
After completing initial induction training at Alltech’s European headquarters in Dunboyne, Ireland, the 11 students will visit Irish family farms. They will also spend three weeks taking animal nutrition and farm management courses at Teagasc, Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority. Courses will cover cattle feed management, silage production, manure processing, machinery and more.
Teagasc is responsible for Ireland’s agri-food research and development, education and training, and advisory services, providing training and education for farmers in compliance with international and national accreditation standards. Although they typically do not offer courses to international students in February, they have opened up this opportunity in partnership with Alltech.
The students will learn more about Western, modern farming concepts and technology from the Irish dairy and beef industries specifically, and they will develop a deep understanding of the unique Ireland family farm model.
As a global leader in animal nutrition, Alltech has supported the ECPA since it was established in 2011. Over the last six years, the ECPA has expanded its network significantly, connecting with 25 agricultural universities in China.
In 2015, in response to China’s dairy industry needs, Alltech started the Alltech-ECPA Ireland Internship Program and financed five students’ internships on Irish farms. In 2017, Alltech is investing more in this internship programme, increasing the number of trainees to 11 and continuing to enrich programme content. The objective of the internship programme is to develop agriculture professionals and deliver innovation to the Chinese animal husbandry industry.
Alltech selected Ireland to host the internship because of its advanced farming technology and unique family farm model.
“The students can bring back to China what they have learned from one of the world’s most progressive dairy farming systems and become the future leaders of Chinese animal husbandry,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, global vice president and head of Greater China for Alltech.
It is said when touring in Ireland that you encounter cattle more frequently than people. Currently, Ireland has more than 135,600 farms, which are almost all family farms, with national per capita ownership of livestock at approximately 4.5 heads. Owing to the temperate maritime climate and abundant rainfall, Ireland is considered to have the best quality meadows in the world, with pastures taking up 80 percent of the land for farming and animal husbandry. There are approximately 300 days considered suitable for outdoor grazing in a year.
Modern technology and strict hygiene standards for food processing enterprises also contribute to Ireland’s worldwide reputation for food quality and safety. This reputation has led Ireland to become the production base for many world-renowned infant formula brands, such as Abbott, Danone, Nestlé and more. Ireland produces more than 12 percent of the global supply of infant formula every year. In addition, Ireland is also Europe’s leading producer of beef.
In contrast to China’s large-scale farms with tens of thousands of cattle, family farms with about 60 cattle on average are characteristic of Irish farming. For many Irish families, farms are passed on from generation to generation, and therefore some farm owners are familiar with farm management from childhood.
Though family farms are small in size, they are equipped with all the necessary supporting facilities and services. In every village, veterinary service stations with top veterinarians provide services for farms. There are pasture experts who visit farms approximately four times a year to check the soil, collect data and analyse grass growth. Irish farms apply the AIM （Animal Identification and Movement）system. Every calf is labelled with a card for registration after birth, and this card labelling is used for tracking during dealing.
The Alltech-ECPA Ireland Internship Program makes full use of its advantages in science, technology, business and more to provide training of high quality. The students’ insights into innovative Irish farming concepts and technologies will enable them to return to China equipped with new knowledge and skills to advance the Chinese animal husbandry industry.