The winners and runners-up in the 2017 FBD National Farmyard Awards have been announced.
The overall winner of the 2017 National Farmyard Awards has been announced as the Lilburn farmyard from Dromore, Co Down.
Hillcrest Farm is a large, family-run dairy business. Beattie and Margaret Lilburn, along with their sons David and Reggie, farm 500 acres. The Lilburns own 350 acres.
They employ one full-time and three part-time staff on the farm. They milk 250 Holstein Friesian cows in a winter milk system. The milking parlour is a double-sided 14-unit and cows produce 9,000 litres. Some 3,500 to 4,000 litres of this is produced from quality grass and forage.
The farmyard has been designed with care over many years to accommodate the size of operation now in place.
The Lilburns regard safety as their number one priority and consider good communication to be a serious part of good, safe farming. All slurry tanks have outside mixing points with safety guards fitted.
Slurry bug treatment reduces the amount of gas emitted. Thought has been put into the design of cattle-handling facilities to allow for smooth cow flow and operator safety at all times.
The farm has been in the Countryside Management Scheme for the last 10 years and the Lilburns have planted 200 trees and 2,000m of hedging. Coppice planting is employed to increase wildlife activity on the farm.
Connacht first place
The Feeney farmyard, Enniscrone, Co Sligo.
The first parcel of land was bought by Mary and the late Joe Feeney over 60 years ago. Their sons Brendan and Greg have added to this and the farm now exceeds 200 acres.
The Feeney brothers have developed the farm running a pedigree Charolais herd and a commercial cattle herd. They also fatten store lambs.
The farm manager, Darragh McManus moved to the farm in 2016 with his wife Ciara and two young boys, Shea (nine) and Fionn (two and a half).
Darragh manages the farm with some casual labour. The farmyard is of an exceptionally high standard.
It is situated in the middle of the farm and commands views of the river Moy and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the focal point of the farm and is designed with safety, functionality and practicality in mind.
This farmyard is well off the road and serviced by a long driveway that has been planted with hedging on both sides.
Leinster first place
The Lalor family farmyard, from Grangecon, Co Wicklow.
David Lalor is married to Eleanor and they have two young daughters, Alex and Sophie. Eleanor is a teacher.
David is a grain farmer who owns 320 acres known as Griffinstown Farm. He leases more land. He grows a variety of crops including spring barley, winter barley, oats, spring beans and some broccoli on a share-farming basis.
Griffinstown Farm is accessed through secure electric gates. A hedge lines the drive way bringing visitors past the secluded farmhouse and on to the open yards.
The design of the farmyard is ideally suited for the scale of operation that David runs. Each grain store is clearly labelled.
There is a dedicated farm office which is tidy and organised. David has really good systems in place for the management of the sales of grain and other crops.
He put in a weighbridge six years ago. David is fanatical about machinery making sure that it is safe and well maintained throughout the year. All machinery is housed in a large shed. David also has a fine workshop in place.
David puts huge emphasis on health and safety. The farmhouse is well secured within the garden and access to the yard is via a locked gate.
This is to protect his young daughters and visitors. There is a dedicated bunded, locked chemical store.
Safety signage is in place throughout the farmyard.
Munster first place
The Herlihy family from Granagh, Bruree, Co Limerick
Liam and Geraldine Herlihy have three children. James is a contractor. Leanne is in Leaving Cert and Daniel is in Junior Cert.
From the outset, Liam and Geraldine wanted to develop a sustainable farm enterprise that protected the environment, ensured animal welfare and was a safe place to work.
The family runs a dairy farm on 95 acres. Liam started out with 45 acres and he and Geraldine have purchased various parcels over the years. They have 61 cows. They rear all the calves and buy in more bringing the number to 85. The herd is a registered pedigree herd.
The farmyard is well designed with the focus on cow flow. Liam is a firm believer of “a place for everything and everything in its place”.
For example; there is a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in each tractor. All silage plastic, metals and waste oil are recycled.
Medicines and chemicals are stored in locked-up, designated areas. There are clear written instructions available for anyone that might be working on the farm.
The Herlihys also run a fencing business and a hedge-cutting operation. They have two people employed for this and Liam is strict about the safe operation of the machinery and the safety of the employees.
Machines and safety guards are well maintained. The farmyard is neat and tidy and festooned with all kinds of colourful, mini sculptures that add interest.
Ulster first place
The Branyan family from Ballybay, Co Monaghan
Alan Branyan has been a poultry farmer for 27 years. He produces chickens for Manor Farm. His wife Heather also works on the poultry farm.
Their son Aaron works with Manor Farm and their daughter Alanna attends NUI Galway. The poultry farm is situated on the home farm where Alan’s father Willie farmed all his life. It is an extremely specialised operation.
His farmyard has evolved over time. He began rearing chickens in 1990. Back then, it was a naturally ventilated house with a capacity of 23,000 birds. In 2014, a new poultry house was added for 41,000 birds.
This brought the total production to 640,000 chickens per annum. During busy periods of loading chickens for delivery and clean out of the houses, all the family are on board. Contract staff is also employed.
Alan is passionate about the image of farming and food production and believes that each farmer has a responsibility to portray farming in the best possible light. He strives at all times to have a clean farmyard.
He also believes that a well-maintained farmyard creates a pleasant working environment and reduces health risks to both family and staff.
Safety Champion of the Year
The Callinan family, from Inagh, Co Clare
Michael Callinan farms 90 acres. He is a part-time dry-stock farmer. He is married to Chris and the couple have three teenage children, Roisín (17), Liam (15) and Mark (12).
This is a family-run farm. Michael also works full-time in the hospitality industry. When Michael is away, Chris keeps an eye on the farm and the animals. Farming is Michael’s passion.
He has won several prizes for his attention to detail and safety measures on the farm. He is chosen as the Safety Champion of the Year because of his dedication to making his farm a safe place for both man and the animals.
The most important time on the farm is when the cows are calving. Michael has designed a functional calving shed with a safe cattle crush. He has appropriate holding facilities for calving cows.
He has been extremely inventive with regard to latching and moving gates in order to keep the operators safe. He has a creep area with easy access for the calves. He had fabricated a unit for the easy collection of plastic.
A pristine and organised medicine store, chemical store and workshop are all locked with clear signage displayed. Michael’s safety statement is on display.
Michael continues to invest in the health and safety measures on the farm. Last year, he purchased the Moocall calving alert system for the suckler cows. This means that he is quickly on hand, if necessary.
He also installed a head scoop and an anti-backing bar for the cattle crush. His sheds and yards are well maintained and ready for next winter. Some of the sheds have been recently stone faced so at to fit in with the walls around the dwelling house.
The Connor family from Crossmolina, Co Mayo.
The McMahon family from Dundalk, Co Louth.
The Murphy family from Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
The Lynch farmyard, Inishmore, Butlersbridge, Co Cavan.
Source : Farmers Journal