The end of my placement year

Last year in September I began my ruminant placement scholarship with ForFarmers. The year has allowed me to gain a valuable insight into the world of agricultural feed. During this time, not only have I developed skills that will help me go further, but I have also encountered new experiences and have changed my perspective of what career direction I'd like to pursue over the next few years.

Looking back at my time

Philippa weighing

Unfortunately my placement year fell within the Coronavirus pandemic and as result certain projects had to be rethought. However, by learning to adapt and overcome hurdles has definitely made me more determined and has set me up for any crisis in the future.

When I first started at ForFarmers my main interest was for youngstock, however after spending a few months looking into the world of forage, my feelings have definitely swayed. As a result, I hope to develop my career in the direction of grass, crop and soil management. I have also based my HRP around the subject matter.

I have learnt a lot during the year, including the link between forage and feed conversion, along with the importance of each team within the company that leads to the creation of high quality feed.

Top 4 things that I've learnt

1. Personal skills

During my year at ForFarmers I have definitely developed my personal skills. Due to Coronavirus forcing the majority of staff to work from home, it definitely pushed me to be more conversational over the phone and online whilst reaching out and growing my network within the business. 

I had to adapt quickly and I soon learnt how to introduce myself over the phone or on a video call. This is really different to being able to meet someone in person and shake hands. I find the best things to do is to firstly introduce yourself, be confident, listen intently and ask questions. Also, by having your camera on during a video call is way more engaging and helps to build relationships with colleagues.

2. Developing my digital skills

Working within the marketing department has allowed me to develop my digital and software skill sets. From saving files in different formats, to using new software and developing my skills and experience with Word, PowerPoint and Excel has been hugely benefical. If you are a placement student and working in an office this year, I would highly recommend that you develop your Excel knowledge, as it really comes in handy day to day on the job. These skills are something I will take with me into my final year of university and my future my career.

Philippa - digital skills

3. The depth of the business

As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. Much like, it takes lots of teams to create a company. When entering the business I knew that ForFarmers manufactured feed however, I didn’t realise the vast amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. Whether that be in the forage team selling and monitoring the field crops that are used to incorporate with a total mix ration, the youngstock team who monitor the growth and weight gain to offer the best type of feed to increase growth or milk production for each farm, or the blends team who help create and discover individual mixes and concentrates for farms to fully maximise productivity. Collectively, the departments and teams help customers across the UK to successfully meet their individual goals and targets.

4. Importance of sustainability

ForFarmers is aware of the environmental impact that the production of agricultural feed can have and is leading the way with proactive intiatives.

ForFarmers has launched a 2025 strategy known as ‘Build to Grow’. This formulated plan highlights and values sustainability which is at the heart of the company’s long term objectives. The 'Going Circular' element of the strategy recognises the importance of the enviornment, emphasis's circular movement within the business and has targets on how to contrinute to a sustainable livestock industry.

The strategy ensures that the values of all stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders etc) are considered and collectively as one, they work together to strive for a more sustainable future of livestock production. The company is also working on reducing emissions, it's carbon footprint, use of single finate resources, to name just a few. During my time at ForFarmers, it has become really clear to me that the company are investing heavily into the future of farming for a better world and the next generation.

Socially distanced working in the office

A big thank you

Overall, I cannot thank Cara Green and Katie Maynard enough for mentoring me and guiding me through the last 12 months with the company. I also need to thank the youngstock, blend and forage teams that welcomed me with open arms on farm and online which allowed me to have an amazing experience across these different departments.

I hope that in the future I will have the opportunity to work with you all again. 

Many thanks,

Afbeelding: Philippa