"One of the main reasons we won — we used no antibiotics for the past five years"

Meet the McCarthys of Feenagh, Co  Limerick, NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards 2021 Dairy Farm of the Year
"One of the main reasons we won — we used no antibiotics for the past five years"

NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards Dairy Farm of the Year, 2021:  Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, whose farm is based in Feenagh, Co  Limerick.

Running their farm with exemplary efficiency are Michael and Alex McCarthy, from Feenagh Co Limerick. Suppliers to Kerry Agribusiness, the McCarthys were selected as overall winner of the 2021 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. 

Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, who still work with their son Alex  on the family farm.
Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, who still work with their son Alex  on the family farm.

Michael and Alex McCarthy have been farming together for the past four years. Michael, a fifth-generation farmer, began helping his father out on the family farm almost 46 years ago.

Since Alex’s return to the farm four years ago, they expanded their land to enable further growth, and subsequently increased their herd size. Made for the outdoors, Michael considers himself a lucky man — dairying has been the love of his life, and himself and Mary Ita are most happy when farming, gardening or spending time with their granddaughter.

Speaking after his win, Micheal McCarthy said: “We’re honoured, you dream of winning these things and it’s sinking in big time now.” 

The McCarthys on the family farm in Feenagh, Co Limerick, with the numbers that saw the farm win the 2021 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Farm of the Year.
The McCarthys on the family farm in Feenagh, Co Limerick, with the numbers that saw the farm win the 2021 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Farm of the Year.

When asked what aspects of his farm set him apart from other contestants, he said: “There are a lot of little reasons, rather than one main reason. One of the judges told me after, that when he left my farm he asked himself, ‘is there a reason why this farm couldn’t win’ and there wasn’t.

“One of the main reasons for us winning was that we haven’t used antibiotics, for the last five years we’ve been practicing that. We’re also one of few that were chosen by Teagasc to be a Signpost farm.” 

Speaking of improving his farm even further, he said: “We’re always asking ourselves what we can do better. There’s a lot of things we have to be good at. We want to drive our practices towards being climate-friendly.” 

The overall winner at the National Dairy Council (NDC) and Kerrygold Milk Quality Awards 2021 Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Feenagh, Co Limerick, and their son Alex, pictured with Olympic Champion Kellie Harrington at a Teagasc open day in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork. Photo: O'Gorman Photography
The overall winner at the National Dairy Council (NDC) and Kerrygold Milk Quality Awards 2021 Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Feenagh, Co Limerick, and their son Alex, pictured with Olympic Champion Kellie Harrington at a Teagasc open day in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork. Photo: O'Gorman Photography

From the Ground Up 

The National Dairy Council has launched a new media campaign — ‘From the Ground Up’ — encouraging people to take pride in Ireland’s dairy industry and building understanding of our progressive farming practices.

Zoe believes that because of the increasing public debate around dairy’s sustainability and the industry’s ability to deliver against yet-to-be-established emissions targets — now is the time to get people on board with the farmers, to show support and solidarity:

“Dairy farming has been going on in Ireland for over 4,000 years and it’s a part of our national identity. Our grass-fed family farming system is ideally suited to the Irish climate and such is its place in Irish society that our research shows around one in four people know a dairy farmer personally.

Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, with their son Alex and grand-daughter Chloe on the family farm in Feenagh, Co Limerick, a fifth-generation farm in the family for almost 50 years.
Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, with their son Alex and grand-daughter Chloe on the family farm in Feenagh, Co Limerick, a fifth-generation farm in the family for almost 50 years.

“However, there is a disconnect between those who buy and consume Irish dairy — 75% of people believe buying Irish is important — and what our farmers are doing to address the issue of sustainability, particularly when it comes to climate action, thereby guaranteeing their future and that of their families.

“Our new campaign — ‘From The Ground Up’ — aims to bridge that gap, encouraging pride, greater understanding and a level of responsibility for our national dairy industry. If we don’t have that pride — that sense of ownership and involvement – then decisions about dairy’s future will be driven not by people who care, but by pressure groups and the disconnected.”

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