BY JOHN SEXTON
THE last day of July 2018 saw upwards of 500 people attend the O’Neill family farm walk at Clohane, Bandon, organised jointly by Bandon Co-Op and the Carbery Group, with support from Teagasc.
This event was in recognition of the O’Neill family (Pat, Theresa and James) winning the overall 2018 Carbery Quality Milk Award. In an address of welcome from the family members, it was evident that pride and passion in farming at Clohane since the purchase of the farm by Pat’s father (Jeremiah O’Neill) in 1947 has gone from strength to strength.
John Horgan, regional manager of Teagasc in West Cork, having congratulated the O’Neill family on winning this prestigious award, said that he hoped that the long association between Teagasc and the O’Neill Family has contributed to their success. This event highlights the importance of family farming to the Irish dairy sector, he stated, adding that the family dairy farm, when well managed, can deliver a good living for the family and contribute to the local economy.
The milk quality production system and environmental quality on this farm was a great example for all attending, he continued. The principal take-home messages can contribute handsomely to the sustainability of farming and food production in rural Ireland, which is of the utmost importance to the economy.
Other speakers at the opening included Peter Fleming, chairman of the Carbery Group, who said that 90% of the milk produced has to find a home in foreign markets and so has to be of the highest quality. The involvement of three family members managing this 200-cow herd gives it the remit of an ideal family farm.
With an average TBC of 8,000 and SCC OF 102,000 it is indicative of the high standards maintained by the O’Neills all year. When Pat started with his father in 1973, they milked 17 cows and, when EU quotas were introduced in 1983, they had built up a quota of 56,000 gallons. Bu the time quotas were abolished in 2015, they had built up the herd to 160.
In a brief address, Ger Brickley, CEO of Bandon Co-Op, thanked the O’Neill family for hosting this farm walk to showcase all that is the best in West Cork dairy farming.
Farms like the O’Neills’are setting an example for others to follow in an endeavour to continue to promote profitable and environmentally-sustainable dairy farming into the future There were four stands manned by Teagasc personnel, led by John McNamara, dealing with milk quality, agricultural sustainability support and advisor programme, nutrient management planning and herd performance, and coping with current drought conditions.
The formal proceedings were presided over by Dermot O’Leary, chairmanof Bandon Co-Op, and amongst the many prominent personalities we met was Jason Hawkins, CEO of the Carbery Group, who was highly impressed with the general set-up. All present were treated to refreshments compliments of Bandon Co-Op and Carbery.