Ian is farming alongside his parents Dick and Kathleen. The family - consisting of Ian, his wife Marie, and their children Dylan, 14 and Emma, 13 as well as Ian’s parents - are milking a herd of 181 cows on a 200 acre milking platform , producing an average of 430kg of milk solids per cow.
The farm is very much a family enterprise with Ian’s parents still very involved, and Marie who helps with calves and other work. Dylan is also a keen farmer and helps out. Ian would describe himself as being very interested in the facts and figures about his farm, as well as trialling new approaches, “I am always tracking and reading up on what's happening and keeping up with the latest thinking to do the job right. I tend to be early in trialling new approaches because I trust the advice that I get and that we are never asked to try what won't work. I also know my ground very well and I know what will work for me.”
One of the first Monitor Farmers (a Carbery/Teagasc joint programme supporting farmers) in 1997, Ian is still part of that group and has also participated in fertility and other trials in Moore Park. He is also part of a Green Acres group. Ian has also done a term on the board of Drinagh Co-op.
On the sustainability front, Ian is a member of the Carbery Greener Dairy Farmers group and subsequently went on to complete the Diploma in Environmental Science with UCC. He has a focus on EBI and has been grass measuring for many years. He has trialled protected urea and all slurry is spread using a trailing shoe. He says ’”I wouldn’t spread slurry any other way now, I think the benefits are enormous.” He has clover on about 20% of the farm, and also maintains hedgerows, and is planting new ones where needed.
On sustainability Ian says: “Farmers are out there working with nature everyday and I don’t know any who are not trying to do their best. I think most new ideas are embraced and farmers will always try new ideas if they have confidence in them. I think for everyone it’s about being realistic and only farming and taking on what we can manage, and what the environment and your land can manage.”
Jason Hawkins, Carbery CEO, said of the Awards: “It’s a great ooprtunity every year to meet and recognise some of our farmer shareholders who are ambassadors for the sector and for what we do. Promoting and protecting Irish family farming will always be the key objective of Carbery and being able to recognise farmers of the calibre of this year’s winner, in Ian, and finalists, means that we can have confidence in both our quality credentials, and our reputation for sustainable farming.”
Carbery Group Chairman, Cormac O’Keeffe added: “The story of Irish family farming, is about the highest quality milk, grass-fed, healthy cows and looking after land handed down through families and across generations. Nowhere is this more evident than in our annual Awards, where we get to meet and reward the farmer suppliers who, with their families, are working hard every single day to produce high quality milk, in the most sustainable way possible. These are the standards and the story we want to show to the world about Irish dairy”.
The judges for this year’s competition, Paddy Barrett, Carbery Quality Manager and John McNamara, Teagasc Cork West, noted the very high standard this year, and in particular the standard of facilities, the commitment to hygiene and quality and the integration of sustainable farming practices.
Owned by farming families, Carbery Group processed 612 million litres of milk in 2021, to produce award-winning cheeses and food ingredients in Ballineen, which were sold in over 50 international markets across the world.
There were three finalists from each West Cork Coop (Bandon, Barryroe, Lisavaird and Drinagh) for the Quality Award and the full list of finalists and winners is below. Carbery would like to congratulate all of the finalists and in particular the winners from each Coop.