The farm: “I farm alongside my father, Meredith. We farm dairy, poultry, sheep and keep bees on 100ac, owned and rented land, here in Co Monaghan. Dad looks after the cows. He milks about 50 Holstein Friesian-crosses. I keep about 60 ewes and we both have our own separate poultry units.”

Poultry: ”At the moment, I have about 40,000 laying hens. They come into me at 16 weeks old and their eggs are supplied to Belview Eggs in Drogheda. About 18 months ago, I invested in solar panels for the poultry units. They are cutting the electricity bills in half and we are able to export a lot of power also.”

Suffolk ewes: “I keep about 60 ewes. I am trying to get into pedigree Suffolks. I purchased a few of them down in Ballymena recently.”

Wool value: “The sheep were sheared last week. I still have last year’s wool sitting in the shed. It would be ideal if it would cover the price of the shearing, but it’s unlikely to see for the coming future.”

Busy bee: “I started beekeeping when I was a teenager. It was a hobby for many years. Last year, I just decided to upscale so I registered with the Department of Agriculture online. At the moment, I have 25 hives of bees. Over the winter, I got some grant funding from the local enterprise office and I got a website designed –

Making honey: “I use all the native bees, or as near native as possible. This year, I did some queen bee-rearing. You pick the colony you like the best. Maybe they are nice and gentle to work with and are good honey producers. It’s like picking a cow or a sheep – you pick the queen with the best characteristics. The amount of honey each hive produces varies. Last year the weather wasn’t great, so it was a very poor year for honey.”

Bee-keeping: “I am a returning member of Armagh Monaghan Bee Keeping Association, I have learned a lot from them. They run courses and get you started with bee-keeping. They will help you find someone who you can buy some bees off and give you practical training as well.”

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My Farming Week: Fergal Donaghy, Slaughtmanus, Co Derry

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