Harriet Challen, Ruminant Development Student

Department: Placement Student

Farming family

“I grew up around Nottinghamshire and I am from a family full of arable farmers. Over the years I have also worked on neighbouring dairy farms, which sparked my interest about the feed and nutritional side of the agricultural industry.”

 “I have always had a keen interest in farming and therefore going to University to study an agricultural related course was an obvious choice.”


“I have been studying at Newcastle University and have completed the first two years of my Animal Science degree. In order to gain experience and knowledge within the industry, I opted for a placement year and was fortunate to secure a ForFarmers’ Ruminant Placement for 2019/2020.”

Placement year

Harriet weighing youngstock

“I started at ForFarmers in August 2019 and was based at the Shepshed office for the first six months. The second part of the year I spent in the South West and was based at the mill and office at Portbury, just outside of Bristol. This rotation worked really well and allowed me to settle in and feel comfortable whilst meeting a wide range of individuals across the business and various departments.

 “My placement year has been extremely varied, which I have really enjoyed. My managers have coordinated my weekly schedule with a couple of days out on farm and a few days in the office. Typically a day in the office consists of checking and replying to emails, uploading and creating marketing content on our channels and completing project work.”

“I also gained experience of working alongside account managers and specialist’s out on farm. This was really valuable and I learnt so much including how to weigh calves, take silage samples, review rations and analyse animal performance.”

“Spending a day with an account manager involves going to a number of appointments and as a result I saw a wide variety of different farms, animals, systems and feeding strategies. My knowledge has definitely grown over the year and this has been attributed by the variety of the placement and the colleagues that have taken time to explain elements to me.”

Beef animals
Sheep and lambing


“Due to the structure of the placement, I have met and worked with colleagues from almost every department within ForFarmers. Within the UK, there are over 1,000 employees and the more I met, the more I realised that they have a huge amount of knowledge and experience. This knowledge is a real asset for their farming customers, teams and departments. Everyone has a real passion for the industry and there is strong bond of teamwork within departments.”

“As soon as I joined the team, everyone I met welcomed me and they were always willing to help me with answers to my questions. I learnt so much from these knowledgeable individuals and will always be grateful for their time. This supportive and learning environment facilitated a fantastic placement year.”

The best thing about the placement

Harriet walking cows

“The amount of opportunities I have been given during the year has been incredible. I have been involved in numerous projects, training days, trial work, conferences and so much more. As a result, I would definitely say that the best thing about the placement has been the opportunities and consequently the variety of tasks and projects that it has brought about. It has been interesting, yet challenging but I feel really lucky that I have been able to meet so many great people and get involved in so many different projects.”

The end of the year

“The year has been invaluable, I have learnt so much about the industry, myself and full time employment. I’m sure the huge amount of knowledge and experience that I have gained will help me with my academic studies and future employment. Additionally from working in the office I have learnt different etiquettes and responsibilities which come with having a full time job.”

“During the last 12 months, I have gained a brilliant insight into the company and this has confirmed by desire to finish my degree and work within the agricultural industry. Thanks must go to Alison Ewing and Cara Green who coordinated my year and made it so worthwhile.”