What started out as a 4ha field beside a crossroads in south Wexford in 1919 has now turned into a fully fledged dairy farm milking 140 cows with a land block extending to almost 90ha. That’s what 100 years of investment has delivered for the Banville family farming at Barry’s Cross near Taghmon in south Wexford. This isn’t the Banvilles of GAA circles, it’s the Banvilles of cow breeding circles.

Pat is big into breeding as was his father, Paddy, a founder member of the Slaney Friesian Breeders Club.

Pat came home after his Leaving Cert in 1988 to farm with his late parents, Paddy and Mary. In 1990, they built an eight-unit milking parlour and, in 2010, it became an eight-unit double-up (16 units). In 2014, it was extended again and now is a 10-unit double-up parlour (20 units).

As well as milking, the farm reared cattle and sowed barley and beet. Through leasing and buying quota, the farm has grown. Since 2015, the beef and tillage enterprises have been reduced. Pat married Carmel in 1998 and, now, their children John (20), Brian (18) and Orla (15) are all actively involved helping out on the farm.

Like a lot of the contestants this year, chlorine free detergent has been in use since September 2018 on this farm. In preparation for using chlorine-free products, the Banvilles wanted to have plenty of hot water and the option to add peracetic acid. In 2017, a flo-gas system was installed to have enough hot water on demand and a third dosing pump to allow them add acid to the final rinse was installed. Milk quality results haven’t looked back since. Herd EBI is €150 with 2021 calves rising to an EBI of €190. Replacements are reared on farm and 36 maiden heifers were bred this year. There are no immediate plans to increase cow numbers further. No antibiotics, just teat sealers at drying off were used in 18% of the herd in 2020. The Banvilles milk all year round delivering about 100,000 litres of milk to Glanbia during the four months of November, December, January and February.

Protecting waterways is high on the agenda for this farm as a tributary of the Corrach river is currently part of a study of the Bannow Water Catchment Area by LAWPRO Scientists (Local Authority Water Programme).

Eamonn Grace is the local ASSAP adviser and in March this year the Banvilles undertook a lot of work to upgrade farm roadways. Ramps were installed to divert water run-off, timber sleepers installed around stream crossovers to prevent leakage into streams when it rains and resurfacing to help cow flow. No huge expense but practical, simple and effective that will no doubt pay dividends for the life in the stream. This Wexford family farm are doing a lot of things right and it is paying dividends.