BIG WEEK ON THE FARM, RTÉ One, nightly at 7pm from Monday, April 3rd to Friday, April 7th

With an even bigger set, a bigger live studio audience, and a bigger host family, this year, Big Week on the Farm promises to entertain and educate like never before. Ella McSweeney and Áine Lawlor, will present the show, LIVE from 7pm each night from a purpose built studio on the fields of the Shalvey Family’s dairy farm, in the Breffni County.

The first week of April, is one of the busiest weeks of the year for farmers, as the land welcomes new life once again. From April 3rd, every evening at 7pm on RTÉ One, Ella McSweeney, Áine Lawlor, and celebrity guest presenters Ruby Walsh, Al Porter, Vogue Williams, Pat Shortt and Aoibhín Garrihy, will descend on the Shalvey family’s dairy farm, amidst the chaos of spring calving and milking.

The Big Week on the Farm studio will play host to a 150-strong live studio audience, in a field on rolling drumlin hills where the cattle of Patrick and Geraldine Shalvey usually graze.

Patrick and Geraldine and their children Enda (20), Colm (18) and Aoife (16), are our host farmers this year. The family have been farming for generations and Enda is an Agricultural Science student in UCD.

The Shalvey farm is home to a vast array of wildlife. Great-crested grebe compete with heron and kingfisher for food in one of Cavan’s 365 lakes; buzzards fly in search of carrion and small animals; and mink and pine-marten roam freely with deer and foxes. With the help of animal behaviour experts, hidden cameras and drones, the Shalvey family will learn about the covert lives of some of Ireland’s most fascinating wild animals.

In unique and beautifully filmed footage, Big Week on the Farm will look at the secret lives of farm animals, as we peer inside the egg-shell at a growing chick’s embryo; we take a look at the steamy behaviour of a bull in a field of cows, we’ll see how apprehensive sheep-dog pups react when they first meet a flock of sheep, and what happens when heart-broken donkeys are separated from their life partners.

Meanwhile, our location presenters Darragh McCullough and Helen Carroll will be linking in live from ten different farms across the country; two different farms a night. They’ll witness the laying of snail caviar in Leinster, the birth of a baby buffalo calf in Cork, the arrival of 300 new-born goslings on a farm in Meath, farm-to-fork pork production in Donegal and a sheep-dairy in Mayo, to name a few.

Big Week on the Farm will also explore new technologies in farming. We’ll see UCD researchers working to uncover how traits in old varieties of wild barley can be re-introduced to Ireland’s biggest crop to improve yields and reduce fertiliser use. We’ll analyse the Shalvey farmland using drone technology and sensors. And GAA star Shane O’Donnell lets us film inside his stomach and intestines to see how his body digests protein.

Following from the success of last year’s sheep shearing Guinness World Record with Ivan Scott, this year, the Big Week on the Farm team will be hoping to break THREE Guinness World Records. Meanwhile the celebrity guests will be aiming to beat RTÉ Weather’s Siobhan Ryan in ‘Pull the Udder One’ after her huge success in the milking challenge last year.

Each night, on Big Week on the Farm, Ella, Áine and celebrity guests will present live studio demos, discussions, dissections, hatchings and births. From calving, to lambing and laying, Big Week on the Farm provides the nation with real-time access to the incredible lives of Ireland’s farm animals and farmers. Join us as the drama unfolds every night, April 3rd to 7th, from 7pm on RTÉ One.

Viewers can tweet us @RTEOne using the hashtag #onthefarm or email us at onthefarm@rte.ie or snapchat us with their videos, photographs and messages for broadcast.