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Grassland Farmer of the Year Hosts Open Day

Eddie and Denis O’Donnell, the 2017 Grassland Farmers of the Year, are hosting an Open Day on their farm in Golden, Co Tipperary, today, Wednesday, 18 April. Eddie, his wife Fiona and parents Denis and Nora, are milking 355 cows this year, supplying milk for Dairygold Co-op and Kerry Group. They are currently farming a total of 160 hectares and operating 2 milking parlours since 2006. The O’Donnell’s have two staff on the farms, Jeremy Furlong and Philip Roche, along with three month student

Grassland Farmer of the Year Hosts Open Day
Eddie O’Donnell, the 2017 Grassland Farmers of the Year, speaking to farmers at an open day on the family farm in Golden, Co Tipperary, today, Wednesday, 18 April.

Eddie and Denis O’Donnell, the 2017 Grassland Farmers of the Year, are hosting an Open Day on their farm in Golden, Co Tipperary, today, Wednesday, 18 April.   Eddie, his wife Fiona and parents Denis and Nora, are milking 355 cows this year, supplying milk for Dairygold Co-op and Kerry Group. They are currently farming a total of 160 hectares and operating 2 milking parlours since 2006.  The O’Donnell’s have two staff on the farms, Jeremy Furlong and Philip Roche, along with three month student Brian O’Neill.

Eddie won the overall Grassland Farmer of the Year competition which had 100 entries and 15 finalists. Eddie bases his grassland management around a number of cornerstones; infrastructure, soil fertility, grass measurement/management and reseeding. Over 50 grass walks to measure grass production were completed on the farm in 2017. The farm has excellent grassland production, averaging 17.6 tonnes dry matter per hectare per year, over the last five years. Grass utilisation is key to the O’Donnell’s success, and today, farmers attending the Open Day witnessed the excellent infrastructure in place to utilise grass.

Speaking from his farm today, Eddie O’Donnell said; “Like everybody else we have had a tough spring and we are hoping for a break in the weather. Our spring grass growth is well back on average, by approximately 800kg DM/ha. However grass is beginning to move now. The weather this spring has really challenged us.”

Padraig Walsh, chairman of the Grass 10 Steering Committee said; “Spring 2018 has been difficult for all farmers and it’s important that farmers talk to one another and to their advisors to get through this tough period. Ground conditions continue to be difficult, so it will take some time for farms to recover fully.”

High rainfall has occurred again this week which will further delay grazing on farms. Dr Pat Dillon Head of the Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation programme in Teagasc, congratulated the O’Donnell family on their success. “Today’s open day demonstrates the huge potential of grassland in Ireland and what can be achieved by having the basics correct. The Grass10 programme is about changing farm grassland management practises to achieve more grass utilisation. The O’Donnell family are terrific examples of this.”

The Grassland Farmer of the Year awards are part of the Grass10 campaign which is supported by Teagasc, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, AIB, FBD Insurance, Grassland Agro and the Irish Farmers Journal.

Grass10 is a multi-year campaign to increase grass utilisation on Irish livestock farms (dairy, beef and sheep), with the objective of achieving: 10 tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare per year utilised, and achieving 10 grazings per paddock per year.

The booklet for today’s open day on the O’Donnell farm is available at https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2018/Eddie-O'Donnell-Open-day-booklet.pdf