THIRD generation Schull farmer John O’Regan is proof that you don’t need the biggest and the best equipment to produce the best results.
The 48-year-old who took this year’s Drinagh Milk Quality Award operates from what he describes as a ‘very basic five-unit parlour.’
It clearly isn’t bothering his herd of 55 cows, who each produced 510kg of milk solids last year, and an average of 6,500 litres. Other statistics show butter fat at 4.3; protein, 3.68; TBC, 4 and SCC 77.
John believes it’s important to leave the land better than you find it and farming sustainably is important to him. Based at Kilbronogue, Schull he has a platform of 83 acres (a mixture of owned and rented land).
He has operated a chlorine-free cleaning operation for the past three years, well ahead of the co-op ban on the detergents usage from this year. He’s also experimented with growing clover on a portion of his land in a bid to reduce his fertiliser usage.
‘But, for me ,it’s also about doing the simple things right,’ he said. That includes cleaning cubicles twice a day at this time of year, and lining them.
‘In summer time it’s about keeping a close eye on grass quality and as I’m in derogation I’ve just started grass measuring,’ he said.
He left school at 15 and has been farming since: ‘It’s all I wanted to do. Spring can be a challenge in terms of the work load but I enjoy this way of life, and we’re lucky that it’s a job that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic.’
This is his second time winning the top award for Drinagh Co-op. ‘It’s a nice thing to be nominated. Something can always go wrong in farming very quickly and so it’s good to celebrate the good times,’ he said.
Going forward, he doesn’t have any huge plans for expansion: ‘But I’m always open to good advice especially in terms of innovations.’
Carbery Milk Quality Awards are in their 16th year, having been running since 2004. They provide an opportunity for Carbery to recognise their commitment to milk quality and sustainability, and most importantly, to celebrate and the milk suppliers who are also committed to achieving these high standards.