Tadhg is not afraid to take chances

February 2nd, 2021 8:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Kilbrittain dairy farmer Tadhg Hurley, who supplies Barryroe Co-Op, emerged as the overall winner of the 2020 Carbery Quality Milk Award.

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TAKING pride in your work and not being afraid to take chances.

That’s the advice that Finbarr Hurley passed on to his son Tadhg, and which he says helped earn him the title of Carbery Milk Quality winner for 2020.

Tadhg farms at Barleyfield, Kilbrittain, on land that his grandfather, Daniel, bought in 1936.

On 90 acres, he has a herd of 74 cows, producing an average of 460kg milk solids per cow.

After school, he completed his Green Cert at Darrara’s Clonakilty Agricultural College, then worked for around seven years on a farm in West Cork before coming home and entering into partnership with his dad.

‘We’re in the process of ending the partnership now and dad is handing over the reins, but he’ll still be involved,’ said Barryroe Co-op’s top supplier.

‘My father is farming for 48 years and you can’t just turn that off. None of what I do would be possible without his foundations. I only get up in the morning and milk the cows, but he built the place and I got the best training from him,’ said the 34-year-old.

Some advice he’s taken on board from him is to be willing to try new things.

‘He’s always said that, if you fail, you can go back, take a different approach and you’ll get there eventually. He’s also taught me to take pride in my work,’ he said.

With that in mind, some of the things Tadhg has tried on the farm include introducing chopped beet as feed around five years ago.

‘We found that feeding 10 kilos of beet per cow wasn’t paying us, so we reduced that to seven kilos, added in ration and got a much better balance per cow,’ he said.

The pair bought 10 acres across the road from their homestead at the start of 2018, bringing their grazing platform to 90 acres.

‘It was just a bog and there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears but it’s used for grazing now,’ he said.

‘We also put a lot of attention into the parlour where cows are pre-foamed, wiped dry, milked and post sprayed. We went chlorine-free in the milking machine washing last July. We installed cluster removers and flush 10 years ago, and we’re 100% AI,’ said Tadhg.

They also invested in a new bulk tank last year and installed solar heaters on the roof of the parlour, and he’s building a family home within 40 yards of the parlour.

All the hard work is paying off with latest milk stats coming in at: litres, 451,299; butter fat, 4.94; protein, 3.59; lactose, 4.65; SCC, 89 and TBC 6.

Married to Helena, they’re parents to sons TJ (4) and Charlie (1) and work-life balance is something Tadhg is very conscious of.

‘I’ve young children and I think it’s very important to be there to see them grow up. One man can only do so much,’ he said.

Tadhg is youngest of five siblings. His mother Margaret passed away from an illness 27 years ago, and he said his father was always there for them.

‘I want to be there for my family and don’t see any point in working 24/7,’ he said.

Winning the overall Carbery Milk Quality award for 2020 was a ‘massive achievement’ and one that’s still only sinking in.

‘I’m very proud,’ he said. ‘It’s nice to know that you’re good at what you’re doing.’

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