Dairy farm award
Cavan dairy farmers David and Kathleen Cassidy have been named overall winners of the 2012 NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards, known in the industry as the "Sam Maguire of farming".
The National Dairy Council’s adjudication panel selected the Cassidy farm for the excellence of its milk. Located in Coppenagh, Lisnagar, Cootehill, Co Cavan, it supplies milk to Glanbia, where it is used to make Baileys Irish Cream.
Speaking at yesterday’s awards in Dublin’s RDS, Kilkenny hurling star Henry Shefflin said: "We are seeing Irish dairy farming excellence here which is consistently delivering high standards of milk quality for consumers, which is based on a foundation of dedication, commitment, and attention to detail every day — and driven by having a real sense of enthusiasm and passion in what you do."
The overall winning Cassidy family farm is excelling in milk quality. For the full 12 months of 2011 average total bacterial counts (TBC) were 8,000, with a range from 5,000-14,000. The average somatic cell count (SCC) was 113,000, with three months’ average less than 100,000.
Average butterfat is 3.96%, protein is 3.29%, and lactose is 4.65%. The farm has an eight-unit herringbone milking parlour and milk is collected every second day. SCC is assessed with every collection, TBC is tested at least twice a month and milk recording is in place.
The original farm was 60 acres. Mr Cassidy bought an additional 32 acres six years ago, and also has land rented and under lease, bringing the total farm land to 150 acres with 90 acres used for grazing dairy herd. When he first took over the farm the quota was 30,000 gallons which he managed to increase over the years to 110,000 gallons, equivalent to about 450,000 litres.
They have 80 cows in the herd, milking about 60 cows — but they would like to grow and expand the herd in the future. Mr Cassidy’s herd is a full pedigree herd under the name of "Liscoppen", with a mixture of Holstein and British Friesian cows. He breeds all of his own animals and has a ‘closed herd’ to protect herd health, meaning he does not buy in outside stock.
National Dairy Council chairman Jackie Cahill said: "The NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards examines the technical aspects of milk quality but also assesses quality in a complete context, taking on board components which drive best practice for Irish dairy farmers in areas such as care of the environment, animal welfare, and sustainability.
"The national finalists and winners in this award programme provide us with an opportunity to showcase dairy farming excellence to consumers, but are also role models for the industry."
Brothers Danny and Patrick Cremin — who are farming in partnership — were named as runners-up in the national awards. Farming at Ballintubber, Newcastlewest, Co Limerick, and suppliers of milk to Kerry Agribusiness, Danny and Patrick were also presented with the top award for a spring milk herd and a prize of €2,500.
Two farmers were presented with national category awards and prizes of €1,500 each. Merle Tanner, farming at Aglish, Coachford, Co Cork, and supplying milk to Dairygold Co-op, was presented with a national category award for care of the environment and diligence.
The second national category winner was John Payne from Torboy, Moydow, Co Longford, who supplies Connacht Gold Co-op and is a new entrant to dairy farming. He was presented with a national category award for farm development.
Irish Dairy Board chairman Vincent Buckley said: "Irish dairy farmers consistently achieve high standards and meet rigorous technical specifications so that consumers at home in Ireland and in our overseas export markets can have confidence in the quality of Irish dairy produce every day.
"Their dedication, combined with the resources of natural grassland to support pasture-based farming practices, provide us in Ireland with top quality milk to support world-class dairy products, which should be the pride of the nation."
Five other national finalists from Cork, Kerry, and Westmeath were also presented with commemorative judges’ awards.They were:
Noel Collins, Knockavoher, Leap, Co Cork (Drinagh Co-op), for Excellence in Milk Solids (Spring Herd); Robert Groves, Ballyackey, Tralee, Co Kerry (Lee Strand Co-op), for Excellent TBC & SCC (Fresh Milk & All Year Round Herd); Patrick Guinan, Ballycumber Road, Moate, Co Westmeath (Arrabawn Co-op), for Excellence in Milk Quality (Under 300,000 litres); Anne Maria Keane and Patrick Cotter, Lacca East, Kilmorna, Listowel, Co Kerry (Kerry Agribusiness), for Excellence in a Spring Herd; and Conor Murphy, Clonlea, Clonakilty, Co Cork (Lisavaird Co-op), for Milk Protein Excellence (Spring Herd).