Heidi Curtis has set her sights on being a successful farmer. Whether this ambitious young woman achieves that by helping develop her parent’s 200 acre dairy enterprise at Higher Kinnerton in Flintshire or by looking for work further afield remains to be seen.
Eighteen year old Heidi is currently in her second year of studying for a diploma in agriculture at Coleg Llysfasi. Not only is she building up her skill set through her college studies, she’s also tapping into additional training available through Farming Connect. And alongside her personal development journey, she’s also keen to encourage her parents to investigate every avenue of Farming Connect support available to them, since her long term aim is for the family farm to provide her with a livelihood too.
“My parents are registered with Farming Connect, and they have learned a lot from attending various knowledge transfer events in our area.I hope I can encourage them to grow the business even more by taking advantage of some of the more recently introduced services like mentoring and the business planning support available through the Advisory Service,” says Heidi.
The farm currently has a herd of 120 dairy cows and around 40 young heifers, all Friesian Holsteins. Heidi is keen to learn as much as she can about ensuring the herd is as profitable as it can be. When she has no college commitments, she and her 22 year old sister, who has a full time job away from the farm, help their parents out at every opportunity, getting involved with all aspects of work including milking, nutrition and general animal health issues.
“My parents also persuaded my sister and I to take an interest in sheep, and although it’s just a small start, our flock of pedigree Suffolk ewes are already doing well and proving to be quite prolific.”
For Heidi, the catalyst to this programme of personal development and ambition to develop her family’s business began when Coleg Llysfasi invited Farming Connect to give a presentation to some of their agriculture students last year.
“We were all encouraged to complete a Farming Connect online Personal Development Plan. This identified gaps in my knowledge and helped me focus on what areas of training or skills will most benefit not just me as an individual, but also the family business. It was a real stand-out moment for me, and I suddenly understood the value of both personal and business development, and how this could benefit not just me but the whole family,” said Heidi.
Heidi applied for AI training, which in her words was an intensive and ‘very comprehensive’ week-long course, she’s now undertaking farm AI tasks at home, which has resulted in a considerable financial saving for her parents.
“I’m hoping to apply for foot trimming training next, because that’s another area of work which can be done in-house if I have the right skills, rather than relying on bought in labour,” says Heidi.
Heidi hasn’t decided exactly what she wants to do when she completes the final year of her course at Llysfasi, but it seems lifelong learning is still part of her plan.
“I’m considering applying for local jobs which will allow me to continue training while learning, because gaining practical experience would be beneficial to me before returning back to the family farm."
“I still haven’t decided whether to focus on dairying. We’ll have to see how the Suffolks progress over the next year!”