Dairygold Milk Quality Award winners Gearoid Maher & his wife Sarah Birrane are pictured with Paul O'Connell, Dairygold on their farm at Killuragh, Cappamore | PICTURES: O'Gorman Photography
COUNTY Limerick is home to the Grassland Farmer of the Year; the reigning NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Award recipients and now the overall winners of the 2021 Dairygold Milk Quality Awards.
Gearoid and Sarah Maher, of Killuragh, Cappamore, were honoured at a ceremony in Springfort Hall for consistently supplying the best quality milk to Dairygold throughout 2021.
They took home both the overall and Limerick region Dairygold Milk Quality Awards.
Gearoid and Sarah farm in partnership and have a herd of 80 pedigree Friesian cows. The herd produced 500kgs milk solids per cow in 2021 with an average somatic cell count (SCC) of 118 and total bacterial count (TBC) of 9.
The attention to detail across all aspects of the farm business was clearly demonstrated in the achievement of the excellent results in this year’s awards.
Gearoid and Sarah’s efforts, across the farm, to show how nature and farming can work side by side really stood out to the judges.
Gearoid is a Farming for Nature Ambassador and is also involved in an EIP project focused on water quality. They have also implemented various sustainability measures on farm such as nitrogen reduction on the platform, the use of selective dry cow therapy and abstaining from pesticide application for two years.
Dairygold chairman John O’Gorman said 2021 was fraught with the challenges of Covid-19 and rising input costs towards the end of the year.
“Our milk suppliers are continuing to produce ‘best in class milk’ despite industry challenges and Dairygold will continue to do what it can to support them to adapt to these challenges,” said Mr O’Gorman.
Congratulating the winners, Dairygold chief executive Conor Galvin said: “These awards are an excellent opportunity for us to reward the efforts of our milk suppliers across the year to produce the best quality milk.”
The awards were based on 2021 milk quality data for all 2,700 Dairygold milk suppliers across Cork, Tipperary, Limerick and Clare.
Eighteen finalists underwent adjudication by Don Crowley, Teagasc Dairy Specialist and Professor Karina Pierce, UCD. They took account of milk quality, dairy facilities, herd health and welfare, sustainability and general efficiencies and farm health and safety.
The judges chose one overall winner, six regional winners and a sustainability winner.
Limerick is also home to this year’s Sustainability Milk Quality Award Winners - Liam and Geraldine Herlihy of Kingsland, Bruree (pictured centre, below).
The Sustainability Award recognises the efforts of Dairygold milk suppliers in making their operations more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
The Herlihys were one of the Dairygold ambassadors and pilot farms for the Leanfarm programme when it was first launched and continue to utilise its principles and ideas on a daily basis.
The Herlihys have put a huge emphasis on soil quality on the farm and have put water preservation, clover inclusion and water harvesting protocols in place.
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