The success of Carbery, the international manufacturer of value-added ingredients, flavours and cheese, has resulted consistently in the country’s highest milk prices being paid to suppliers to the four West Cork co-ops which jointly own Carbery — Bandon, Barryroe, Drinagh, and Lisavaird.
Suppliers like Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan, from Dunmanus, Goleen, Co Cork, have put the higher West Cork milk earnings to good use.
The modern facilities on the farm of these Drinagh Co-op suppliers have helped them win the overall national milk quality prize of €5,000 and the coveted NDC & Kerrygold perpetual cup.
Kieran and Catherine are the fifth generation of the family to farm at Dunmanus, close to Mizen Head.
They run a 107-hectare dairy farm with their 18 year-old son,
Cathal. Kieran’s parents, Donal and Mary, also live on the farm.
They milked 124 cows in 2014, increasing to 136 in 2015, based on using 65 hectares for grazing and with an 18-unit milking parlour.
The average herd yield is 4,717 litres (TBC 6, SCC 71, butterfat 3.92%, protein 3.48%, lactose 4.82%).
Runners-up in the national awards are Denis, Siobhan, Barry and Jane O’Mahony from Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co Cork, another fifth generation family farm.
They supply milk to Barryroe Co-op.
“Our location gives us a great ability to produce a rich, nutritious product from our grazed grass and our cows are amazing, productive animals which efficiently convert that grass into something so special,” says Barry.
“We are blessed with a productive, fertile herd of pedigree registered Holstein Friesians. We love to admire our different cow families.”
The farm is 90 hectares, with 41 hectares for grazing the 220 cows, about 70 of which calve between September and November.
These environment conscious farmers have aerated slurry tanks to reduce odour when spreading, and they plan to install solar heating.
The average yield is 6,574 litres (TBC 11, SCC 123, butterfat 4.13%, protein 3.44%, lactose 4.77%).
Lisavaird Co-op supplier James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty, Co Cork won a national category award for milk protein.
He milks 70 cows on 47.5 hectares, 26.5 hectares for grazing (average yield 6,866 litres, TBC 6, SCC 95, butterfat 4.27%, protein 3.63%, lactose 4.8%).
Other category winners are John and Ann Fitzgerald (lowest TBC/most hygienic milk), Gobbinstown House, New Ross, Co Wexford, supplying Glanbia Ingredients Ireland); John and Margaret Greene (lowest SCC/best udder health), Greenville, Callan, Co Kilkenny (supplying Callan Co-op); and John and Colette Fox (attention to detail), Ballinacregg, Oranmore, Co. Galway (supplying Arrabawn Co-op).
The other finalists were Dan and Valerie Dennehy, Clonmoyle, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork (Dairygold Co-op); Gerard and Marie Killoran, Carrowloughlin, Bunninadden, Ballymote, Co Sligo (Aurivo Co-op); Florence and Caitriona McCarthy, Banna East, Ardfert, Co Kerry (Lee Strand Co-op); Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Kilmurray, Feenagh, Kilmallock, Co Limerick (Kerry Agribusiness); Owen and Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane, Co Cork (Bandon Co-op); Thomas and Marie Ryan, Kylemakill, Moyne, Thurles, Co Tipperary (Centenary Thurles Co-op); and Ivor Smyth, Poles, Co Cavan (Lakeland Dairies).
“The 13 shortlisted dairy farms were put through an intensive scrutiny involving rigorous analysis of milk quality reports and technical data spanning a full 12-month period and including an inspection of their farms by the judges, which allowed us to get insights into the farm’s practices around areas such as milking routine, animal welfare and sustainability,” said Professor Pat Wall from UCD, on behalf of the judging panel.
All 13 finalists are registered with the SDAS (the Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme).