Welcome to Vietnam, 32 degrees Celsius, 80% humidity!
I remember sitting in the library of UCD one winters day reading about the Alltech Dairy Career Development Programme, and what struck me first off was that, unlike a lot of graduate programmes, this one had structure. Each week was planned out, from what training we would receive, were we would work and what we would be doing etc. Then the plan was that on week 10 we would be on our farms, and do you know what, here I am, on farm.
I met with Siobhan in the crazy city of Bangkok and we flew down to Ho Chi Minh City to meet another Alltech employee, Yen. She was very kind and organised my visa and mobile phone. We then travelled to the farm in the Binh Dinh province of Vietnam. The first thing that hit me was the bio-security, it is very strict on this farm, and rightly so as Foot and Mouth is rampant in this country. With 878 milking cows on this plot there is no room for that kind of disease on the farm.
Together we carried out a complete farm audit, from the mixing centre to the cows BCS. I was happy to get it completed with Yen by my side as she speaks very good English. The only downside for me is that the farm workers don’t speak a word of English, so no communication goes on but I have to use my initiative and do work that I feel is beneficial to them. For example on Friday I was helping in the calf feeding process. This allowed me to gain a detailed insight into what really goes on from birth, to weaning and then all the way to 70 days of age. I can make my own suggestions in a report about where I feel changes can be made. There is lots of scope for change on this farm but as the saying goes, patience is a virtue, so I will take my time and not try to be a miracle worker.
On another note the food is a slight challenge but I am mastering the chop sticks like a pro. The weather is hot, 32 degrees, 80% humidity, it’s extremely hard on cows and calves, but this is one challenge that I know I can help with. I have a good Wi-Fi connection which is brilliant to keep in contact with home, so I am all settled in and the workers are now taking me to a local restaurant to eat god only knows what, so until next week it is goodbye from sunny and sticky Vietnam.