Tender loving care for cattle key to brothers’ dairy success

CATTLE dried with paper towels after every wash, twice daily dusting down and rubber mats underhoof – little wonder brothers Kevin and John Walsh were named Ireland’s top two dairy farmers for 2010 at the annual National Dairy Council (NDC) Quality in Citywest, Co Dublin, yesterday.

Stringent hygiene practices and good animal health were the key factors cited by judges who visited the brothers’ farm in Kilnafrehan West, near Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

All cows are washed before every milking and stripped to check for any clots in the milk. They are dried with paper towels, so there is no transfer from cow to cow and teats are sprayed after every milking.

As for the equipment, the judges said that even an untrained eye would be impressed by the shine on the rows of milk collection jars. The parlour is bright, well ventilated and spotless.

Kevin Walsh said: “Our milk is collected by Glanbia every second day and every collection is laboratory tested. We get a text back with the results, so we know within 24 hours if there is anything suspicious that we need to investigate.

“Getting this kind of information back allows us to react quickly before a problem develops. We get a great sense of satisfaction when we see the good results coming back, it’s reassurance we’re doing things right.”

Kevin and John were presented with the NDC Perpetual Cup and a cheque for €5,000 by special guest Mícheál O Muircheartaigh at yesterday’s ceremony. The brothers also received warm praise from UCD’s professor Patrick Wall, representing the judging panel for the NDC Awards, as well as from NDC chief executive Helen Brophy.

Helen Brophy said: “The work of the NDC can only succeed if we have a top-class product that consumers have confidence in – and fortunately we do. These awards allow us to identify the highest standards of milk production on our dairy farms – and it allows us to reward the effort that surely must go hand in hand with it.”

Other category winners included: Robert and Shirley Shannon, Droumgarriffe, Co Cork; Noel O’Donovan, Ballymacwilliam, Co Cork; Michael Keating, Kilcoleman, Rathkeale, Co Limerick; Billy and Deirdre Connor, Crossmolina, Co Mayo; Sean and Mary Hurley, Ballintemple, Co Wicklow; Patrick and Phyllis Kennedy and son Martin, Toomevara, Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

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