Pioneer calls on high-tech to help granddad
Thanks to his clever grandson, Donegal farmer John McGinley can use a mobile phone to feed his sheep from a distance.
The 87-year-old is, in fact, the inspiration for a very 21st-century approach to the age-old task of feeding animals.
Stephen McGinley (24), of Killybegs, saw his granddad was getting on in years and wanted to "make things easier" for him, "because farming is very labour intensive".
The young graduate applied the latest technology to come up with his FarmFeeder, a solar-powered remotely activated automatic feeding system for agricultural and equestrian use.
A simple text message activates the trailer-based feeder to release calibrated doses of feed to waiting animals, in situations where the farmer has difficulty getting to them, perhaps because of bad weather or time constraints.
Not only was his granddad the inspiration, but John also did the real-life testing at his large farming operation in Kilcar, and proved that it was a winning idea.
"It worked great. He can now feed his sheep remotely from his mobile phone," said Stephen.
The FarmFeeder was part of Stephen's final-year project while completing his digital and software systems engineering course at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).