It takes a team effort to run a family dairy farm. All the talk at the moment is about environmental sustainability and for most Irish dairy farms, the biggest risk factor to the continuation of the farm is the health and wellbeing of the farm family.

To keep family members and employees interested, farmers must invest in facilities that make the job easier to complete, but also more environmentally sustainable to a growing dairy herd.

This profile of top dairy farms around the country shows the effort, investment, upkeep and maintenance required to run a commercial dairy farm.

None of these farmers set out to intentionally harm the environment. However, all would put their hands up and say that they have changed how they operate.

They have evolved how they manage nutrients, they recognise that rainwater falling on farm roadways needs to be kept out of streams, they are rainwater harvesting, harvesting heat from cooling, changing the type of fertiliser they use, adapting the machinery they buy and removing the use of blanket antibiotic usage on dairy farms where it might not be necessary.

The old tools that are aging gracefully like milk recording, grassland management, cleanliness, recordkeeping, etc, all still come into play.

The families profiled here can hold their heads high. They are ambassadors for the agricultural industry. They are willing to stand up for their industry and are committed to sharing the positive messages about farming in Ireland.

Often, farmers talk themselves down when we should be shouting from the rooftops about the positive aspects of the industry, and what it does for rural Ireland, the economy, the countryside and the people that live and work in the industry. Stand tall and hold your heads high – like the 12 farmers we visited as part of the NDC and KerrygoldQuality Milk Awards in 2021.

The overall winner will be announced next week.