The 2020 Grassland Farmer of the Year is Caroline Walsh from Ballinscarthy in west Cork. Caroline won the dairy award and the overall award for top performance in grassland management. She milked 72 cows in 2020 and grew 14.2tDM/ha.
Originally from Ballinadee near Bandon, she is married to Joe, an agricultural contractor and they have five children. Caroline's dairy career started in 2009 when she was awarded new entrant milk quota and leased a farm to milk 40 cows. The couple converted Joe’s home farm to dairy in 2014 and Caroline’s herd was moved there in 2015.
Her focus over the last few years has been on increasing the amount of grass grown on the farm and improving the quality of that grass. She is focused on profit and has actually reduced cow numbers from a peak of 80 cows in 2018 to 64 cows for 2021, which equates to a stocking rate of 3.2 cows/ha. Heifers are contract reared. Joe, his father and brother lend a hand to Caroline during the calving season and before the contracting business gets busy.
The herd is extremely high EBI at €172 on average and they sold 515kg MS/cow from 850kg of meal in 2020. Caroline is a member of the local grassland management course. She achieved the highest number of grazings out of all the contestants.
John Galvin from Dunmanway also in west Cork won the sustainability award for 2020. Together with his wife Yvonne they milk just over 100 cows on 35ha. In 2020 John’s Jersey-cross herd produced 520kg MS/cow from 750kg of meal. He is part of the Caha River Project and his farm is in GLAS for which all slurry is spread with LESS and most of the fertiliser applied is in the form of protected urea. In 2020, John’s farm grew 14.7 T DM/Ha.
Other winners on the day included;
• Sean Bary, Pallasgreen, Co Limerick – heavy soils winner
• David O’Leary, Castleisland, Co Kerry – young grassland farmer winner
• Pat Collins, Midleton, Co Cork – beef production winner
• Thomas Hogan, Nenagh Co Tipperary – suckler beef winner
• Peter McGuinness, Trim, Co Meath – sheep winner
• Most improved grassland merit award: David Brady, Stradone, Co Cavan.
• Most improved grassland merit award: Noel Hurley, Kildorrery, Co Cork.
• Grassland sustainability merit award: JP Hammersley, Lattin, Co Tipperary.