Ballineen’s James is honoured with 2021 Dairygold milk quality award

June 10th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

At the Dairygold Milk Quality Awards were mid-Cork regional winners that came in second place in the overall competition, James and Orla Hurley from Dromfeigh, Ballineen, with John O’Gorman, chairman and Conor Galvin, chief executive. (Photo O’Gorman Photography)

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BALLINEEN farmer James Hurley is the mid-Cork regional winner and second overall winner in the 2021 Dairygold Milk Quality Awards.

James, along with his wife Orla, milk 116 predominately Holstein Friesian cows on a 31.35 hectare milking platform.

The herd produced 740,000 litres of milk and 563 kgs milk solids per cow.

In a bid to farm as sustainably as possible, the Dairygold supplier has put a huge emphasis on growing grass on the farm where over 14 tonne per hectare was grown in 2021 amidst significant reclaiming done on the farm over many years. James, who farms at Dromfeigh and was shortlisted in the dairy category of The Southern Star’s West Cork Farming Awards last year, also prioritises breeding and has all of his cows fitted with sense hub collars and genotyped to ensure that replacements are bred from only the best cows.

Along with the excellent milk solids and fertility performance, the judges were really impressed with the maintenance and quality of the hedgerows on the farm. There has been a significant focus on clover for the last four years and James uses the dribble bar while at the same time reducing the amount of chemical nitrogen being used on the farm.

Dairygold chairman John O’Gorman said that 2021 was fraught with the challenges of Covid-19 and also with rising input costs towards the end of the year.

Despite these challenges, Dairygold’s milk suppliers continued to provide the highest quality milk to the Society for its customers.

‘The reputation of the Irish dairy industry hinges on the high standards and quality of our milk and the acknowledgement of this is demonstrated in the output from our suppliers, he said.

‘Our milk suppliers are continuing to produce “best in class milk” despite industry challenges and Dairygold will continue to do what it can to support them to adapt to these challenges.’

Speaking previously to The Southern Star, James said he was also conscious of ensuring his farm is environmentally, socially and financially sustainable.

‘It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly,’ he said, and it ensures he’s confident about the future of farming.

‘I’m very aware that I’m simply the guardian of this land for the future generation and I am doing my best to preserve what we have here,’ he pledged.

The awards were based on 2021 milk quality data for all 2,700 Dairygold milk suppliers across counties Cork, Tipperary, Limerick and Clare.  A shortlist was drawn up from each of the six Dairygold regions.

Eighteen finalists underwent adjudication by Don Crowley, Teagasc Dairy Specialist and Professor Karina Pierce, UCD.    

The two mid-Cork finalists were: Sean, John and Eileen O’Leary, Kilbarry, Macroom and John Keane, Coolmakee West, Farnanes.

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