December 2021

As the year comes to a close, I reflect on the top five things I have learnt so far during my placement year with ForFarmers.

1. Working 9 to 5

I'm now officially five months into my placement year and it's flown by. I've settled into a weekly routine and I am fortunate to have a mixture of office work and customer appointments out on farm. This combination has allowed me to broaden my knowledge across all areas of the business including youngstock, forage and dairy nutrition.

The structure of working nine to five has also helped me manage my time better and I've now settled into a pattern of planning my schedule so that colleagues can see when I'm in or out. I really enjoy my role and find it fulfilling, in fact the speed at which the working week passes and the weekend returns keeps astonishing me. 

Looking back on the past few months, my knowledge and experience of working in an office environment has significantly grown and as a result I feel more equipped for university and my career beyond it. I also feel more confident to seek help or direction with a project with colleagues from across the business.

Josie's year

2. Communication

My communication skills and knowledge of channels has definitely improved since the beginning of my placement. From working one-on-one in person to large groups on Microsoft Teams, I have listened and learnt so much from attending meetings and training sessions.

Due to Coronavirus I was often unable to make acquaintances with people in person. I therefore had to learn quickly on how to communicate with colleagues via digital channels such as email, Skype and Teams. I have enjoyed learning these new channels and now feel my tone of voice is clear and concise. 

I've also shadowed a range of Ruminant and Youngstock Specialists on farm which has allowed me to meet and communicate with customers. I have enjoyed chatting to farmers and finding out about their farms. I'm really grateful for all of the opportunities I've had to shadow experts out on farm.

3. Professionalism

During the last five months I have developed my professional etiquette. For example, when out on farm it's important that I am smartly dressed and communicate in a friendly manner as I want to represent the company in a positive light.

Each month I continue to build professional relationships with colleagues and customers and it's getting easier or perhaps I'm getting more confident. I also recently attended the Welsh Winter Fair which was a perfect opportunity to expand my network, meet some friendly faces and speak to potential customers.

4. Farming knowledge

Josie with calf

I have learnt valuable knowledge out on farm by shadowing Youngstock, Dairy and Forage Specialists. It's interesting to see different farming systems from across the country and learn about the products that ForFarmers provides. From completing frequent calf weighing I have learnt a great deal about our calf milk replacers. The VITAMILK range includes whey and skimmed based options and I've enjoyed finding out more about the protein, fat and oil content within each powder. It's important that calves have healthy immune systems in order to grow and our Care+ packages help to support their development.

I have also been out with a range of Forage Specialists and have been involved in discussions around maize harvest, nutrient management plans and reseeding. Homegrown forage is the cheapest feed source, so it's important that farmers maximise their resources efficiently.

I have also learnt a lot about milking goats. Recently I visited a goat farm and was given the task of learning about their housing and transition diets. The content I pulled together was then checked by our Goat Specialist and will be pubished as articles on the ForFarmers website in the New Year.

5. Analytics and feed formulation

I've been creating Insight reports for Ruminant Specialist over the past two months so that they can review monthly performance and alter diets to boost feed efficiency or meet certain targets. I have enjoyed learning about the macro-nutrients within diets along with performance indicators.

Raw material prices have fluctuated dramatically over the past year and it's been interesting to track the prices and follow the movements. I didn’t realise how volatile the commodity market could be and the huge impact it has on the feed industry and farmers. In comparison to a year ago the raw material price index is now approximately 18% higher, this really shows the scale of the situation.

2021 conclusion

I would like to express my gratitude to colleauges who have welcomed and helped me during the last few months. The year has come to a close on a positive note as my placement has taught me a wealth of knowledge, skills and personal traits. I feel a lot more confident going into 2022 and I'm eager to continue learning and delving into some new projects.

Afbeelding: Josie signature 2