THREE West Cork farms have received national recognition with category wins at this year’s NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.
Liam and Dolores O’Donovan, Clohane, Skibbereen; Else Furney and Michael Hayes, Ballinagaragh, Kilbrittain, Bandon, and Tim and Dan Crowley, Carey’s Cross, Clancoolbeg, Bandon, all received awards, while Co Cork took a fourth award through Kevin and Bernie Downing, Parkduv Farm Ltd, Farranastig, Whitechurch.
The country’s top prize for best quality milk was awarded to Darran and Denise McKenna of Derrygasson, Co Monaghan. The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards have been running since 1996 and celebrate excellence in Irish dairy farming.
The Business Innovation award was won by Else Furney, Kilbrittain, whose farm was nominated by Barryroe Co-Op. Skibbereen’s Liam and Dolores O’Donovan, who were nominated by Drinagh Co-Op took the award for Best Protein Production.
The Development Award was presented to Bandon Co-Op nominees Tim and Dan Crowley. Last month, Tim won the Young Farmer of the Year category in the West Cork Farming Awards, run by The Southern Star and the Celtic Ross Hotel.
The award for Best TBC (total bacteria count) went to Kevin and Bernie Downing of Whitechurch, near Blarney. He was nominated by Dairygold Co-Op
The winners were announced in Dublin last week and presentations were made to nine of Ireland’s top dairy farms by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.
The judges for this year’s awards were Dr Jack Kennedy, dairy editor of the Irish Farmers Journal; Professor Pat Wall from UCD and Dr David Gleeson from Teagasc. Chef and food writer Clodagh McKenna was once again ‘Food Ambassador’ for the 2018 awards.
Minister Creed said: ‘The farmers who are nominated for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are representing milk pools of hundreds or sometimes even thousands of dairy farmers in their own co-ops. These awards are instrumental in recognising the huge passion, sacrifice and hard work that Irish farmers carry out 24/7 365 days a year to produce a high-quality product revered all over the world.’
The CEO of the NDC Zoe Kavanagh, said ‘We are fortunate to be working with such a healthy, nutritious product produced to very high standards. And, it is those high standards in Irish dairy farming that we reward and celebrate today.
‘Irish dairy produce has a superb reputation for quality in global markets. In Ireland, our green countryside is a tremendous asset because the pasture-based model of dairy farming is a vital ingredient for the success of Irish dairy produce all over the world.’
For each of the nine farms, the judges detail the combined fat and protein percentage for each month of the year, the total volume sold from the farm, the weighted average somatic cell count (SCC) and the total bacteria count (TBC). These results certainly help in formulating the winning farms, but a lot more detail and additional factors are considered.
Dr Jack Kennedy, dairy editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, spoke on behalf of the national judging panel and thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards.
He said: ‘The Quality Milk Awards judging is one of the highlights of the year for the judging panel. We get to travel the length and breadth of Ireland and visit family farms that are delivering excellence every year. Nineteen farms were nominated this year and nine were shortlisted for a farm visit. ‘These farms were located in six different counties from West Cork to Monaghan. The standard, once again, was exceptional and highlights the capacity of Irish family dairy farms to produce a high-quality product that is unique to Ireland. All farms are producing top quality milk solids and milk quality from facilities which are the ultimate in cleanliness and hygiene, which, is essential as the global consumer is raising the bar every year.
‘There is no doubt Irish dairy farmers are also reaching new heights in a consistent and sustainable manner,’ Dr Kennedy added.