Sean O’Donnell from Mayo has won the 2014 FBD Young Farmer of the Year Award. Sean was announced as winner at a ceremony in the Westlodge Hotel, Bantry, Co. Cork this evening.
A dairy farmer from Ballina, Mayo, Sean is milking 110 cows at the moment and has plans to increase to 150 cows. He is the chair of his local discussion group and plays football with his local club.
The Young Farmer of the Year Competition is run by Macra na Feirme in partnership with the IFA and is sponsored by FBD.
The six finalists in this year’s competition were:
Eamonn Burke – Galway
Eamonn runs a mixed farm consisting of beef and tillage in Corrandulla, in Co. Galway. He is 34 years old. His land is split fairly evenly between grass and tillage with his main crops being spring cereals and fodder beet. His ambitious plan, put in place in 2012, is to get land on a long term lease to increase the land size and play his part in Food Harvest 2020. He faces many changes to succeed like experienced staff, price of water and diesel, loss of certain chemicals among others. Finally Eamonn is involved in Macra, the IFA, Galway Ploughing Association and in his local horse and Agricultural show that he provides the land for.
John Fagan: Westmeath
John is a 35 year old farmer from Collinstown, Westmeath. He farms 1100 ewes and 125 heifers on along with doing an additional bit of tillage for his own use. In terms of stock numbers, he is happy with his current level but his aims have shifted towards cutting down his costs as much as possible, while improving the genetics of his flock to get better quality standards. He is a long time member of Macra and is also a member of the Irish Grassland Association.
Sean O’Donnell: Mayo
Sean is a dairy farmer from Ballina, Mayo. He is milking 110 cows. The plain is to increase to 150 cows and he is at the moment at the early stages of talk about share farming some land with a neighbour. If this goes through and works he will have access to land meaning that reaching his plan of 150 cows would be very achievable if the share farming works. Sean is the chair of his local discussion group at the moment and he plays football with his local club.
William Morris: Carbery (Cork)
William is a 31 year old dairy farmer from Ballydehob, Co. Cork. He milks 86 cows produced on spring grass and keeps all replacements on his land. The aim for the next 5 years is to increase his herd by 40% and increase cow fertility to produce more milk on an individual cow production system. He has all his plans clearly marked out with figures to show how realistic they are. He gathers information from his farm discussion group and by taking part in further agricultural training. William understands the need to get away from the farm in order to fuel the passion required to achieve such expansion. He goes cycling, hiking and surfing to do this.
Padraig O’Connor: Limerick
Padraig is a 32 year old dairy farmer from Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick. He is milking 100 cows with 70 heifers coming through and the focus is 100% dairy. He plans to take over the farm in the coming few years and is currently working on his strategic plan for the future post-quota. The major factors affecting how he plans to run the farm are milk prices and sourcing of good quality labour during busy times of the year.
Donal O’Connell: Avondhu (Cork)
Donal, 33, is working in a milk production partnership with his father in Mallow, Co. Cork. They are milking 160 cows. The cows are crossbred Holstein and Jersey cows. Donal is in early level discussions with one of his neighbours to enter a share farming option through the Land Mobility Service. If this goes through he will have the potential to double his herd and milk over 300 cows. Donal is a member of two discussion groups and is very interested in rugby having travelled to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup. He has travelled extensively in order to see different methods of dairy farming all around the world.