TWO local dairy farmers have been awarded with top prizes at the National Quality Milk Awards.
Tim and Breda Hurley from Rosscarbery were awarded the top prize in the Highest Protein category, and Thomas and Laura Griffin from Bandon achieved top prize in the Sustainability category.
Tim and Breda Hurley are farming at Cahirbeg, Rosscarbery, with their three teenage children – Mary (18), Patrick (16) and Sean (15).
The judges said the attention to detail on all aspects of this farm is excellent, yielding consistently high quality standards. The Hurleys were the overall winners of the Carbery Milk Quality Awards in 2015. The farm is 77.4 hectares with excellent views from the hills. The family milked 75 cows in 2015, with an average herd yield of 6,075 litres.
‘We are constantly keeping a close eye on quality and what we can do to improve the sustainability of the farm,’ said Tim. ‘Quality is monitored through our test results and we take great pride in achieving good results,’ added Breda.
There is a 12 unit milking parlour and the farm uses night rate electricity to heat water. A shallow well on the farm is used to supply gravity water. Trees have been planted this spring and about one hectare of high ground has been untouched for wildlife.
Thomas and Laura Griffin have two young children, Saoirse (3) and Juliet (2). Thomas’ parents Mary and Sean are still involved in the farm, along with Mark Hurley, a member of the team.
‘Our dairy farm is also our home,’ said Thomas. ‘We are proud of where we live and appreciate we share it with West Cork’s various animals, birds, flora and fauna.’ Laura said the family enjoys nature and wants to foster and develop it hand in hand with a productive, profitable dairy farm.
The Griffins are farming 57 hectares milking 150 cows in 2015 with an average herd yield of 5,485 litres. Thomas is big into energy saving. Initiatives on the farm include using a plate cooler for efficient milk cooling, buffer tank, recycling pump, solar panels for hot water and water is metered.
The farm has a traditional orchard of apple trees and is involved in hedge planting, as well as the Carbery tree planting programme.
Thomas pointed to the way the farm maximises the use of grass as one of its central environmental features.
‘We aim to grow and use a lot of grass,’ he said. Grass is measured weekly and grazed to 4cm. Thomas is looking to good breeding to improve traits in the herd, turning grass into to super quality milk.
‘Both farms are a great example of how farming families, all over the country, pull together, pool their strengths and produce great results’ said Zoë Kavanagh, chief executive of the National Dairy Council. ‘By taking pride in what they do, both families have built a sustainable, profitable and enjoyable family business.’
Kevin Lane, chief executive of Ornua said it is no accident that Irish dairy products are regarded as the best in the world. ‘Our farmers’ and their families’ commitment to delivering world class quality milk, day in day out,coupled with our grass based farming systems has enabled us to build successful markets for dairy products around the world.’ Professor Pat Wall from UCD spoke on behalf of the national judging panel, which included Dr David Gleeson (Teagasc) and Dr Jack Kennedy of the Irish Farmers Journal. He thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards.
The ten shortlisted dairy farms were put through intensive scrutiny involving rigorous analysis of milk quality reports and technical data spanning a full 12 month period and included an inspection of their farms by the judges.
Learn more about this year’s winners at www.qualitymilkawards.ie