Consistency is often desired, but often in short supply. The Shorten family farm has been shortlisted for these awards previously, highlighting the absolute attention to detail and consistent delivery on this west Cork farm. It is fair to say the farmyard has moved to another level since we last walked the ground.
When you look up the hill from the farmyard, you see a significant wind turbine revolving in the west Cork breeze. It was installed 10 years ago at a cost of €46,000 and last year another €9,000 was spent on it. It reinforces Ronald’s interest in renewables.
While it has just about paid for itself, Ronald doesn’t mince his words when he says they have been lucky they didn’t get too many breakdowns and he is aware of others that have given a lot more trouble. Any sparky with a ladder won’t run up along this size of a turbine.
Any sparky with a ladder won’t run up along this size of a turbine
Hanging around cows necks are collars to identify various health and fertility issues. Ronald and Betty’s son and part-time farmer Brian is the driving force on this technology and he also works part-time managing clients for Cow Manager. Brian’s brother Andrew works in hospitality and his other brother Mark is working in finance.
Sexed semen is used on the heifers and any cows that went in calf to first service the year previously. Using the collars to get timing right and selecting the best fertility stock means a conception rate over 60% with sexed semen is happening on this farm, according to Brian.
The Shortens are looking at further ways to underpin the sustainability of the business
Similar to other farms in the west Cork catchment area, land is fragmented and often outside blocks of land are used for crops that get fed back into the home farm. Milk is produced all year round at Woodfield and barley, maize and fodder beet are part of the diet to help maximise the land resource available that can’t be grazed by the cows.
Brian spent time in New Zealand and on the day we called, he said one of the first things he did when he came home was to fence the farm properly to improve grass management. Roadways were upgraded and some hedgerows planted. The farm is looking well and this year, the Shortens hosted a farm walk as part of the commitment they made after winning the overall Carbery title in 2020.
The Shortens are looking at further ways to underpin the sustainability of the business by doing more reseeding, introducing red clover, further increasing EBI and using more and more protected urea.