Calving jack safety device at the Student Enterprise Award finals

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Two Kerry students hope a device they created as part of the Student Company Program will improve calving safety.

Katelyn Curtin, a Year 5 student at Presentation Secondary School in Castleisland, said her background in cattle farming inspired the project.

“I would have seen the dangers associated with the calving process many times and decided something had to be done about it,” she told Agriland.

Orlaith Buckley, who developed the device with Katelyn, said the project allowed her to use her business and marketing skills. However, she admitted that she had a lot to learn about farming.

“You know the bare minimum, but there are so many nuances in farming that you don’t really think about it.

“I really got to see how much the farmers take care of their livestock. It’s not just seen as a business. They see them as more than fair,” Orlaith said.

Katelyn Curtin and Orlaith Buckley

“The name of the company is Mearscaoilte Lao (MSL); it’s the Irish translation for ‘quick calf release’. We chose the name in Irish to make our offering unique and also contribute to Irish heritage,” explained Orlaith.

The students designed their safety mechanism that instantly releases the ropes from a calving ram with the flip of a lever after looking at other products on the market.

This included examining door hinges and metal clips on glass jars.

The safety mechanism of the MSL calving cylinder
The safety mechanism of the MSL calving cylinder

Katelyn said the device is already being used successfully on her own farm.

“We hope this product will continue to help as many people across Ireland and perhaps across the world in farming.

“Our overall goal is to make farming safer for everyone and we believe our product could help with that,” she said.

Data from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) shows that livestock have accounted for almost 20% of all deaths on farms over the past decade.

Student Business Program

Kerry students, along with their teacher Edward Clarke, are among the top 15 companies shortlisted for this year’s National Student Enterprise Awards Finals.

The initiative managed by the Local Enterprise Offices of the country allows students to discover the realities of entrepreneurship.

This includes developing a business idea to produce a product, market research, promotion, book management and profit generation.

Since the program began in 2003, more than 300,000 students have participated in schools across the country.

“It was a huge learning experience, so it was really fun for us. To be able to see all the different ideas of others, even in the Kerry final, was truly amazing.

“We’re really nervous, but we’re really excited to be up there and showcase our product,” Katelyn said.

National finals

Among more than 24,000 student companies registered this year, the top five were selected in the senior, intermediate and junior categories.

They will compete in the final in person at the Helix in Dublin on Wednesday May 18, with Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar announcing the winners.

Other agriculture-themed businesses to be recognized in this year’s program were students from Boherbue Comprehensive School in County Cork for their Pole Pals device, which carries pigtail poles while a farmer is grazing.

Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown, Co Roscommon was also honored in the Intellectual Property category for a cattle trailer safety bar which provides protection when transporting livestock.

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