Farming & Fisheries

The complications of Long Covid force Harold out of dairy farming

March 19th, 2023 10:05 PM

By Emma Connolly

Harold Kingston and his dog Marley on his farm in Courtmacsherry. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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THE complications of ‘Long Covid’  are among the reasons that have led IFA Munster regional chair and Courtmacsherry farmer Harold Kingston to decide to exit dairy farming. 

A complete clearance sale of his animals will take place at Bandon Mart on Thursday March 9th from 11am. 

The sale will comprise 143 holstein FR spring calving dairy stock, 100 of which are calved and the remaining 43 in-calf to AA. The herd includes 34 first-time calvers.  Also included are 44 maiden heifers. 

‘I’m basically selling everything except the calves,’ said Harold. 

He had Covid last June and lives with debilitating fatigue, chest pain, breathlessness and brain fog ever since.

‘Covid has not been kind to me, and while I did reasonably well over the winter with my health, spring has been more difficult,’ he said. 

‘If I do a full morning’s work, I’d have to factor in a rest, that’s what it’s like,’ he said. 

He was also motivated to exit dairying to afford his son Clive the time and space to decide his own future. 

‘He’s doing his Leaving Cert this year and I want to give him that space, without pressure, to have a chance to travel or study. I didn’t have that. I went from school to Darrara college to farming, and have been here since 1988,’ he said. 

Going forward, the 54-year-old said he’s keeping his options open regarding future employment and will contract-rear calves as he has the facilities and the know-how. 

‘There’s only going to be one family income off the farm if and when my son decides to come back, so I’m seeing what’s out there,’ he said. 

‘It was a difficult decision to make, but I know it’s the right one for me and my family. My father before me moved on from sheep, I moved on from tillage, you have to adapt to your circumstances.’

Climate change demands of the sector did not influence his decision, he said. 

Despite speculation, Harold said he has no interest in running for the top IFA position this year. 

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