West Cork farmers Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan have won Ireland’s top dairy prize at the National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.
The O’Sullivans operate a 107-hectare dairy farm in Dunmanus, Goleen, Co Cork, along with 18-year-old son, Cathal. Their milk is supplied to Drinagh Co-op and processed by Carbery to make products ranging from Dubliner cheese to Kinetica sports nutrition products.
The O’Sullivans are the fifth generation of their family to farm at Dunmanus in a beautiful part of West Cork, where their farm has views of the ocean. Kieran’s parents, Donal and Mary, also live on the farm.
“We are producing a food product here and we put the quality of the milk we produce on our farm as the number one priority,” says Kieran.
“That is why the milking of the cows and the washing of milking parlour inside and out is the most important job we do every day.”
The plant washing routine on the farm is described as ‘perfect’ by the judges. Kieran says he hopes any consumer could walk into his milking parlour any day and be happy with the way the cows are milked and how the milk is handled.
Kieran has been running the farm full-time since 1984. He increased numbers over in recent years. He milked 124 cows in 2014, increasing to 136 cows in 2015, based on using 65 hectares for grazing and with an 18-unit milking parlour.
The farm has modern facilities and is registered with the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme. Kieran says he has the grazing platform and capacity to build more cubicle housing to expand further in the future should the herd expand.
NDC chief executive Zoë Kavanagh said: “So many of our Irish dairy farms have been family farms for generations who have a deep pride in what they do. Skills and heritage are passed down from father to son or increasingly from mother to daughter also.
“Through this award programme we see the passion for progressing and learning the newest and best way of doing things; combined with a heartfelt wish to take care of and improve on the farm, so that it can be passed on to next generation with care and pride.”
Kilkenny hurling legend Henry Shefflin presented the O’Sullivans with their €5,000 prize and the coveted NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual cup. In all, accompanies by Agriculture Minister of State Tom Hayes, he presented awards to 13 top dairy farms.
Runners-up in the national awards are Denis, Siobhan, Barry and Jane O’Mahony from Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co Cork, who supply milk to Barryroe Co-op.
Four farms won national category awards: John and Ann Fitzgerald, Co Wexford (lowest TBC); John and Margaret Greene, Co Kilkenny (best udder health); James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty, Co Cork (best milk protein); John and Colette Fox, Co Galway (attention to detail).
Commemorative plaques were awarded to: Dan and Valerie Dennehy, Clonmoyle, Aghabullogue, Co Cork; Gerard and Marie Killoran, Co Sligo; Florence and Caitriona McCarthy, Ardfert, Co Kerry; Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Kilmurran, Kilmallock, Co Limerick; Owen and Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane, Co Cork; Thomas and Marie Ryan, Moyne, Thurles, Co Tipperary; and Ivor Smyth, Co Cavan.
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