RTÉ One’s hit agricultural show Big Week on the Farm is back and is headed to Cavan next week taking up residence on a dairy farm for another five nights of live television where anything can happen.

Big Week on the Farm welcomes the spring, when the land comes to life, with a unique blend of beautiful wildlife footage, fun and educational features and audience interaction. With an even bigger set, a bigger live studio audience, and a bigger host family, this year’s Big Week on the Farm promises to entertain and educate like never before.

The fast-paced show is broadcast live from 7pm on RTÉ One over five consecutive nights starting on Monday, April 3rd.

This year the show comes live from Cootehill in Co Cavan, home to Patrick and Geraldine Shalvey’s dairy herd. Filmed in front of a 150-strong live audience in a purpose-built studio on a field nestled in rolling drumlins, viewers can expect live studio demos, discussions, dissections, hatchings and births. Every night Big Week on the Farm's celebrity guest presenters - Ruby Walsh, Al Porter, Vogue Williams, Pat Shortt and Aoibhín Garrihy - join the action as the show descends on the Shalvey family’s dairy farm, amidst the chaos of spring calving and milking. The show will also link in live from farms across the length and breadth of Ireland from a duck farm in Cork to an oyster hatchery in Sligo. And the evening weather will also be broadcast from the farm nightly.

From calving to lambing and laying, Big Week on the Farm gives the nation real-time access to the incredible lives of Ireland’s farm animals and farmers.

Patrick and Geraldine Shalvey and their children Enda (20), Colm (18) and Aoife (16), are the show’s host farmers this year. The family have been farming for generations and Enda is an Agricultural Science student in UCD. Colm is studying for his Leaving Cert and budding artist Aoife is in Transition Year.

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.

Patrick said: “It’s very exciting. Everyone in farming and the local community here in Maudabawn watched it last year. We’re a tight-knit community, and everyone’s asking who the stars are that are coming - but we haven’t been able to say, until now! It’s a very big deal for this beautiful part of the world.

“It’s really only started to hit us now: the enormity of it all. The caterers have been down, the load man, the lorry man, the site builders. Spring is the farmer’s bread and butter, and dairy farmers are at their limits, putting out slurry, calving and feeding cattle, so we are very busy at the moment.”

The first series of Big Week on the Farm, broadcast in April last year, had an average consolidated audience* of 331,000 viewers and a 25 per cent share**. There was huge audience engagement with #OnTheFarm trending on Twitter most nights, thousands viewing the daily snaps posted by ‘rteonesnaps’ on Snapchat and up to 120,000 viewers tuning in for the the regular RTÉ One Facebook Live broadcasts across the week.

RTÉ One Channel Controller Adrian Lynch said: “Viewers really embraced Big Week on the Farm last year. The show got us right to the heart of the action, bringing viewers everything from lambs born live on air to world record breaking sheep shearing. It was a huge undertaking but one that proved both educational and entertaining in equal measure. We’re delighted to return with a brand new farm and we’ll be featuring farms throughout the country, meaning every corner of Ireland can get involved”.

Audience interaction is a major part of the show and viewers are encouraged to tweet Big Week on the Farm @rte and @RTEOne using the hashtag #onthefarm, email onthefarm@rte.ie or snapchat the ‘rteonesnaps’ account with their videos, photographs and messages for broadcast.

Big Week on the Farm is co-funded with RTÉ by Science Foundation Ireland. Science and technology are increasingly part of modern farming and food production. Science Foundation Ireland, both through the scientific researchers and the public engagement activities it supports, wants to help inform, and broaden everyone’s understanding of the developments in this key sector of our economy, and its potential impact on our everyday lives.

Big Week on the Farm is produced with the support of incentives for the Irish film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland and also funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.