Tipperary Dairy Farm Shortlisted For National Quality Milk Awards

Thirteen of Ireland’s top dairy farms will compete in the finals of the National Dairy Council & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. The annual national award programme is the recognised standard for excellence in dairy farming. The achievements of this year’s finalists and winning farm will be celebrated in a campaign using the hashtag #MadeForThis, which will highlight the excellence of Irish dairy farming both at home and abroad.

Tipperary Dairy Farm Shortlisted For National Quality Milk Awards

Thomas Ryan with dairy herd

The thirteen shortlisted farmers, based in nine counties, reached the final following nomination by Co-ops around Ireland.  The finalists will be put through an intensive judging process before a winner is announced on 20th October.


Zoë Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council explained how both heritage and innovation are at the heart of the perfect dairy farm:

“What we have seen year after year, in the finalists and winners in the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards is the marriage of traditional farming techniques, passed through generations, with the application of the best of modern technology and science,” said Ms. Kavanagh.  “These dairy farmers excel because they are #MadeForThis farming life. They are the product of generations of craft, but recognise the importance of farming innovation. Combined with their inherent passion, our best dairy farmers are thirsty for knowledge and hungry to improve their farming techniques, to better care for their cows and to produce even higher quality milk.” 


Kevin Lane, Ornua CEO explained the importance of the awards in recognising the contribution of dairy farmers in driving standards of excellence in farming:

“The dairy farmers who have been shortlisted are the best of the best.  They show a dedication to their craft which is beyond parallel.  They are not only driving the quality of their own farms, but they are also raising the bar for the whole industry.  Irish dairy farming is the best in the world, not only because of our natural grass based production system, but also because our farmers, down through generations, generously share their knowledge and continuously improve standards in the industry and in their communities.” 

A celebratory campaign, under the heading #MadeForThis, will focus on the importance of heritage and the sense of collective kinship that exists in farm communities.  These factors are behind the success of every great farmer and at the heart of what makes Irish dairy the best in the world. The campaign sees the launch of a new website, qualitymilkawards.ie, which will hero each of this year’s finalists by sharing rich and engaging profiles, photography and videos of their farms and lives to showcase how they are #MadeForThis.

Those contending for the top spot will be judged based on inspection of milk quality reports and technical data spanning a full 12 month period; combined with best practice on critical areas such as sustainability, care of the environment, animal health and welfare and overall farm management.


The results of this year’s national awards are due to be announced on 20th October, 2015. The overall winning dairy farmer will receive a prize of €5,000 and the coveted National Dairy Council & Kerrygold Quality Milk Award perpetual trophy.


Judging for the national award includes a farm inspection by the expert national judging panel – Professor Patrick Wall, Associate Professor of Public Health at UCD; Dr David Gleeson, Milk Quality Research, Teagasc; and Dr. Jack Kennedy, Dairy Editor & Deputy Editor, Irish Farmers Journal.


The 2015 national finalists for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are:


County Cavan

  • Ivor Smyth, Countenan, Poles, Co Cavan (representing Lakeland Dairies)


County Cork

  • Dan & Valerie Dennehy, Clonmoyle, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork (representing Dairygold Co-op)
  • James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty, Co. Cork (representing Lisavaird Co-op)
  • Owen & Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane, Co. Cork (representing Bandon Co-op)
  • Denis, Siobhan, Barry & Jane O’Mahony, Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co. Cork (representing Barryroe Co-op)
  • Kieran & Catherine O’Sullivan, Dunmanus, Goleen, Co. Cork (representing Drinagh Co-op)


County Galway

  • John & Colette Fox, Ballinacregg, Oranmore, Co. Galway (representing Arrabawn Co-op)


County Kerry

  • Florence & Caitriona McCarthy, Banna East, Ardfert, Co. Kerry (representing Lee Strand Co-op)


County Kilkenny

  • John & Margaret Greene, Greenville, Callan, Co. Kilkenny (representing Callan Co-op)


County Limerick

  • Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Kilmurray, Feenagh, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick (representing Kerry Agribusiness)


County Sligo

  • Gerard & Marie Killoran, Carrowloughlin, Bunninadden, Ballymote, Co. Sligo (representing Aurivo Co-op)


County Tipperary

  • Thomas & Marie Ryan, Kylemakill, Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (representing Centenary Thurles Co-op)


County Wexford

  • John & Ann Fitzgerald, Gobbinstown House, New Ross, Co. Wexford (representing Glanbia Ingredients Ireland)





NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards

2015 Finalist


County Tipperary

Thomas & Marie Ryan, Kylemakill, Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (representing Centenary Thurles Co-op)


Thomas and Marie Ryan from Co. Tipperary have been nominated by Centenary Thurles for the national NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.


They have a 43.75 hectare farm at Kylemakill and milked 72 cows last year.  Cow numbers have increased by 15 this year as they can increase cow numbers using existing facilities by reducing their dry stock enterprise.


“Milk quality is our top priority as we are conscious of the markets our milk is going to,” says Thomas.

“Grass is the driver of our farming system with a long season at grass.  Our philosophy is to do the simple things right and to introduce new ideas as appropriate.”


The Ryan farm is registered with Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.  Initiatives include using a plate cooler at every milking with water then used for yard washing.   LED lighting is used in the yard.  Wells are tested, soil is tested with derogation management plans in place. More than 50% of swards have been reseeded in the past 5 years. Grazing management includes use of temporary fencing to avoid poaching in wet weather.  Hedges are maintained and cut biannually with value placed on hedges for shelter.


Denis Kennedy from Centenary Thurles Co-op says that Thomas and Marie Ryan have consistent and excellent milk quality as shown by overall quality results.   “The farm is exceptionally clean with a well-bred herd of Friesian cows and has the facilities necessary to produce top quality milk in a sustainable and environmentally friendly system.


The Ryans have six grown up children – Michael, Patricia, Eamonn, Thomas, Maura and Matthew.



Annual average figures based on 2014:

Average herd yield 5,752 litres

TBC 10.1

SCC 88.7

Butterfat  4.01%

Protein 3.46%

Lactose 4.78%

Thermadurics 216



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