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Young Farmer Focus: Holly Fletcher-Smith - 'There is nothing I love more than being hands-on'

Holly Fletcher-Smith, 19, is a student at Harper Adams University studying agriculture with animal science.

Childhood: I grew up in a typical semi-detached house in a village, but with my grandfather just a field away on his farm, it gave me the taste of farming I needed.

 

His smallholding consists of 30 breeding beef cattle and a 250-head flock of mostly registered pure Lleyn sheep on 72 hectares (177 acres) of rented land.

 

I have assisted here since a young age with simple daily tasks and my capability has increased with age, along with my passion for it.

 

As well as the smallholding, I have gained experience on two local dairy farms. As a young farmer with little experience, I have always been thankful for farmers going out of their way to help me while still carrying out their daily tasks.


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Challenges: My time so far at university has been insightful; arable and mechanisation modules have been a challenge due to my experience.

 

The course has engaged my interest, allowing me the opportunity to carry out a DIY artificial insemination course, which I have practised on one of the dairy farms back home.

 

I am a member of Buckingham Young Farmers, attending as and when I can. Over the last two-and a-half years it has helped me widen my agricultural contacts, taught me about livestock judging and, more importantly, I have gained friendships.

 

Being from a generation that relies on social media to communicate more than previous ones, it challenged me when I was forced to withdraw myself from this by working outside.

 

But equally, this break has been revitalising, allowing me to form more personal relationships rather than virtual ones.

 

Farmers such as @castlehillfarmers and @the_chief_shepherdess, who use social media to show their way of life to other farmers and non-farmers, have been effective in using the platforms available to promote British farming, especially in the lead up to Brexit.

Future: Where life will take me after university I am not quite sure. There is nothing I love more than being hands-on with animals, but I also enjoy research and lab work.

 

I have begun my degree with an open mind and it has already opened my eyes to wider prospects. I know I will look for a job more focused on the animal science side of agriculture.

 

Meanwhile, I will be widening my experience with lambing in Wales, a milking job back home and applying for summer jobs on a dairy or pig farm, unless a more stimulating opportunity arises.

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