BY JOHN SEXTON
Perched many feet above sea-level, the Crowley family at Bauravilla Upper played hosts to hundreds of farmers from across a wide hinterland at farm walk organized by Drinagh Co-Op and Teagasc Friday, August 12th.
They came to see and observe the farming methods applied by Michael and Marguerite Crowley and their family, which won for them the overall Carbery Quality Milk Award for 2015. For this award, three suppliers from each of the four West Cork co-ops are selected for scrutiny by an adjudicating panel drawn from Carbery and Teagasc and, from what everyone saw on the walk, it was no surprise that the Crowleys had emerged as winners.
Speaking at the opening, Billy Kelleher, Teagasc regional manager for Cork West, said that the Crowley family deserve this award for their dedication to milk quality and developing a sustainable and viable dairy farm in the heart of West Cork.
Along the walk there were four stands manned by staff members from Carbery and Teagasc, John McNamara, Pauline O’Driscoll, Sinéad Traynor, Michael O’Donovan and host farmer Michael Crowley, who spoke at the first stand and gave a very comprehensive and detailed account of his grassland management, with special mention on reseeding.
His description of their cow husbandry and dairy hygiene left nothing to be desired and many present were amazed at the high quality of luscious grass in all the grazing paddocks. He paid special tribute to the advice, which was always available to them, from Billy Kelleher, John McNamara and Pauline O’Driscoll of Teagasc; Dan MacSweeney and Paddy Barrett of Carbery and Joe O’Sullivan and his staff at Drinagh Co-Op.
Michael also paid tribute to his late father, Paddy (who died only recently), for the advice and leadership given to him down through the years. This 74-hectare farm, carries an average number of 130 Spring-calving cows, averaging 5,589 litres of milk with 4.1% butter-fat and 3.70% protein.
Breeding has been based on selection of EBI since it came in. At the start, a big emphasis was placed on selecting AI bulls based on their fertility index. As the herd fertility improved, and calving got more compact, more emphasis was placed on milk production and specifically on fat and protein.
In a final comment, Billy Kelleher told us: ‘This event highlights the importance of family farming to the Irish dairy sector. The family dairy farm, when well-managed, can deliver a good living for the family and contribute to the local economy.’
With the intensity of the work involved in this enterprise, one would think that it’s all work and no play for Michael, but quite the contrary as he is a leading player on the local road bowling scene, a sport that is ingrained in the Crowley family.
Michael’s mother told us that she always relished following him and her late husband on their exploits on the bowling road, and the next generation of the Crowleys is showing a keen interest.