'If you had to buy anything in, you were considered a bad farmer'
Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30
The big change in direction for the Kellys came when the recession took hold and their Moon Shine organic yoghurt and cream business was struggling as it tried to compete against the bigger co-ops.
They faced an uphill battle keeping on top of regulations, while the costs of testing raw produce was a whopping €2,000 a quarter.
Gerry recalls that their son Derek (30) told them he wanted to take over the farm in the future but he didn't want to be completely tied to the farm by milking cows.
However, Gerry says after discussing it they reverted to organic beef and tillage farming and they're all "happy" with the move.
Now, they've 44 calves on their 20 milky Rotbunt-cross and Shorthorn-cross cows while a Hereford bull services the herd.
"We'd winter at least 25-30 calves," explains Gerry. "We buy in the calves for doubling up. It is hard to get them in the springtime."
He says they travel the roads of Ireland looking for calves from organic herds, and buy whatever is available be it heifers or bulls.
Derek (inset) explains they try and keep the calving pattern tight, with all bar one calved in four weeks to ensure they can put additional calves on the cows. He says they pay from €150 to €350 depending on the calves.