NI farmer wins Texel Sheep Society Educational Award

Rebecca Rainey grew up on a suckler and sheep farm where she developed a passion for livestock
Rebecca Rainey grew up on a suckler and sheep farm where she developed a passion for livestock

A young farmer from Northern Ireland has been announced as this year's recipient of the Texel Sheep Society Educational Award.

Rebecca Rainey secured the award for her Harper Adams dissertation on the relationship between foot health in ewes in early lactation and their body weight and condition score at weaning and just before tupping.

Each year, the Texel Sheep Society presents £250 to the students who attain the highest marks on a sheep production related Honours Research project.

The awards are offered to students from four universities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Rebecca grew up on a suckler and sheep farm in Co Londonderry, NI, where she developed a passion for working with livestock and learning about different production systems and stock improvement strategies.

She continued farming during the lockdown period, establishing her own flock of commercial ewes.

“I chose to study this because I have seen first-hand, the significant economic and animal welfare compromises as a result of sheep lameness," she said.

"This project was made possible by Innovis Ltd. who provided a data set consisting of over 1700 ewe records, derived from the company’s nucleus flock, with these records having been collected between 2016 and 2019,” she said.

Rebecca spent her placement year at Fane Valley Group in NI. She was involved in the sales of animal health products, and her role included customer service and advice, while preparing orders for dispatch and printing livestock tags.

Following her graduation, the young farmer has been selected for a temporary position at Progressive Genetics in the Republic of Ireland, working in their milk recording department.

She was selected based on her ability to communicate with farmers and her knowledge of dairy systems, for the role, which involves providing farmer support, ensuring data accuracy, milk quality and promoting milk recording.

“My primary interest besides farming is in the area of livestock reproduction," Rebecca said.

"I intend to continue learning about this and hopefully obtain a job in the area of animal breeding and genetics, alongside the expansion of my own farm enterprise."