THE success of four West Cork dairy farms were honoured at the Oscars of the dairy world.
The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards celebrates excellence in Irish dairy farming and saw the Hearne family from Rathgormack, Co. Waterford announced as the top-quality milk producer in the country.
Locally, Brendan O’Driscoll, Shreelane, Leap, was presented with a Development Award.
Brendan, who was nominated by Drinagh Co-op, started farming full time in 2000 with a mixed enterprise before focusing entirely on dairy farming. The farm land has been in the family since the 1860’s and Brendan is now the fourth generation. He has made considerable improvements and increased the herd size since 2014 including investing in soil fertility, reseeding and using technologies like grass budgeting in order to feed additional cows without using additional concentrate.
Dermot Walsh, Lislevane, Barryroe, was honoured with an award for Best Technical Knowledge.
The Walsh family believe in running a farm that is economically sustainable while also maintaining the highest standards of environmental sustainability, milk quality and animal husbandry.
West Cork was also ably represented by national finalists: Adam and Valerie Shorten, Enniskeane (nominated by Bandon Co-op) and Michael, Ellen and Thomas Nyhan, Ballineen (nominated by Lisavaird Co-op).
For each of the finalist 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, coupled with additional factors including evidence of sustainable dairy farming, help formulate the winning farms.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed attended the ceremony and said: ‘The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards celebrate what is truly special about Ireland – our unique way of farming coupled with the passion our farmers have in producing the best quality milk in the world.
‘The environment which we operate in is ever-changing and while we face significant challenges, it is important to celebrate our dairy farmers who continue to strive for excellence. It’s their hard work and dedication that forms the foundation of success for our industry.’
Zoë Kavanagh, CEO National Dairy Council added: ‘Sustainability was firmly on the agenda for us at this year’s awards. Consumers are demanding natural sustainably produced food and our dairy farmers are well placed to deliver this. Irish dairy has one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally, primarily due to the unique grass fed, family based Irish farming system which is extremely efficient and involves less intensive farming.
‘I am proud to represent these excellent food producers who once again have excelled in producing high quality Irish dairy 365 days a year!’
• See qualitymilkawards.ie for more.