Two Tipperary Farms In National Finals Of Dairying Sam Maguire

Fourteen dairy farms – including two from Co. Tipperary – have been short-listed as national finalists for the 2013 National Dairy Council & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.   The competition, which sets out to highlight and reward Irish dairy farming excellence, has been described as ‘The Sam Maguire of Farming’.


The results will be announced on 21st October, 2013, with the overall winning farmer set to receive a prize of €5,000 and the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual trophy.

The short listed farms received inspection visits from all three members of the expert judging panel – Professor Paddy Wall, Associate Professor of Public Health at UCD; Dr. Jack Kennedy, Dairy Editor, Irish Farmers Journal; and Dr David Gleeson, Milk Quality Research, Teagasc.  They scrutinized technical information and farm management practices supporting each farm’s consistently excellent quality milk standards.  They also reviewed aspects of contemporary dairy farming ranging from sustainability and animal welfare to care of the environment.


The Co. Tipperary finalists are:


·         Kevin & Breda Bourke, Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary(Tipperary Co-op)

·         Conor & Grainne  Molony, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (Centenary Thurles Co-op)




KEVIN & BREDA BOURKE – Ballinlonty, Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co.Tipperary

(supplying milk to Tipperary Co-op)


Kevin Bourke has a clean farmyard with attention to detail obvious to any visitor.   He has a herd of 52 dairy cows on his farm of 39 hectares.  Average herd yield is 5,509 litres with milk supplied to Tipperary Co-op.


Kevin believes that experience counts, saying that he has learned a lot over the years.   His herd is spring milking.  Calving is normally from 1st February – April each year and cows are usually out on grass from the 1st March, using 48 hour paddock grazing, with fresh grass given every 12 hours.  He aims to keep grass in the diet for as long as possible.


SCC levels are tested 8 times a month and TBC twice a month.  The herd’s average TBC results are 8, with average SCC of 133. Butterfat average is 4.10% and protein is 3.58%.  Tipperary Co-op also measures Thermoduric readings, averaging around 100 for the Bourke farm with a rise to 1,000 at peak in March.


Kevin has a six unit herringbone milking parlour.  A plate cooler unit was installed and milk quality has been refined by pre-cooling milk before it reaches the bulk tank.   Night rate electricity is used to improve efficiencies on the farm.    Water is re-used to hose out the parlour and the installation of a water softener has reduced lime levels.  Plastics on the farm are recycled and hedgerows and preserved and maintained.


CONOR & GRAINNE MOLONY  – Clobanna, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

(supplying milk to Centenary Thurles Co-op)


Conor Molony has a herd of 97 cows on his 67 hectare farm, with 42 hectares total grazing area.  Conor produces Spring milk, supplying milk to Centenary Thurles Co-op.   Cows are normally out on grass from February – December each year using a rotational grazing system practiced matching grass supply with demand.


The herd is mainly cross-bred with Holstein Friesian Kiwicross, Jerseycross and also some MRI/Robunt bull Parole.   Milk recording is done, with TBC tested between 2 and 3 times per month and SCC tested 3 times a month.   The herd has annual average TBC of 16 and SCC of 106.  Butterfat average is 4.59% and protein is 3.82%.


Conor believes that factors like good roadways and good water supply are all important contributors to herd health, as well as mats for all cubicles.  His vet has a regular involvement in his herd health programme and cows are vaccinated to protect herd health.


Rainwater is harvested and used to wash the yards.  Conor installed a 2-stage plate cooler for efficiency and uses night rate electricity to maximum effect.


Conor is following a hedgerow management plan as part of a REPs contract and has a conservation plan, with a number of habitats on the farm.


A member of Templemore Dairy Discussion Group, Conor would like to increase the size of the herd to about 140-150 cows when quotas are removed, post 2015. He is already in ‘expansion mode’ bringing the herd to 123 cows this year.   The farm already has storage capacity in place for the expansion and Conor has a 20 unit milking parlour.

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