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Eoin’s grass production focus pays off

February 18th, 2021 10:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Barryroe Co-Op milk supplier Eoin Hayes (left) pictured with his father, Miceál, on the family farm at scenic Lispatrick on the Old Head of Kinsale. (Photo: Don MacMonagle)

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BARRYROE CO-OP SUSTAINABILITY AWARD

FARMING in one of West Cork’s most picturesque spots at Lispatrick, Old Head, Kinsale, is Eoin Hayes.

As breathtaking a location as it is though, it means Eoin can’t plant trees or even hedgerows on his land due to the maritime climate – he knows this because he’s tried.

But that didn’t stop the experienced farmer from claiming the title of Barryroe Co-Op Sustainability Award winner for 2020.

Farming 96 acres, with a herd of 58 cows, and producing 460kg of milk solids per cow, Eoin is ticking plenty of other boxes when it comes to playing his part in helping the agri sector meet its carbon targets.

Grass production is something Eoin, and his father Miceál are highly focussed on, reaping impressive awards.

The pair completed a major reseeding project around eight years ago, and are now committed to reseeding around 10% of the farm annually, using clover mix to reduce fertiliser use

‘Our cows were on grass last year for 280 days from February to November. Naturally, some of those mightn’t have been full days, but they’d have been outside for some part of it and are only housed in December and January,’ said Eoin.

As a result of these grass efficiency efforts, last year each of their cows were fed just 550kg of concentrate, which would be below average.

Eoin has paid great attention to breeding and EBI and has seen the fruits of this in the last number of years, with EBI currently at 147.

‘Sustainability makes business sense for me and it’s a good fit for our farm. If we all do our bit, we’ll hit our carbon targets.’

Ambitions going forward include increasing milk solids per cow to 480 this year and upwards to 500, on 500kg of ration. Eoin, who took over the running of the farm 15 years ago, also has plans which include investing in LESS equipment, using protected urea, all the time reducing his fertiliser usage.

‘Because we farm in such a beautiful spot, we are conscious of protecting it,’ said Eoin.

Winning the sustainability award was, he said, nice recognition for what can at times be hard work.

‘I don’t think anyone sets out to win awards, but it’s nice to know we’re doing something right. Farming is a nice lifestyle but it can be a tough job at times, so for sure it was a nice boost,’ he said.

Eoin remains optimistic about the future of farming and fully appreciates the ongoing support of his father Miceál who continues to milk cows regularly, especially now when calves need to be fed.

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