TWO Kerry farms have been specially commended in the National Quality Milk Awards for their hard work and attention to detail.
Robert Groves, Ballyackey, Tralee, received the Judge's Award for Excellent TBC and SCC (fresh milk and all-yearround herd) and Anne Maria Keane and Patrick Cotter of Lacca East, Kilmorna, Listowel, received the Judge's Award for Excellence in a Spring Herd.
Along with seven other finalists in the competition, they were congratulated by Kilkenny hurling legend Henry Shefflin who said their achievements were based on 'dedication, commitment and attention to detail'.
Robert and Betty Groves, who are suppliers to Lee Strand Co-op, said their farm is an ideal grazing platform to ensure that milk is produced from grass for as much of the year as possible.
Robert milks 80 cows and the competition judges described its quality as excellend.
"Liquid milk is collected every day, with SCC assessed twice a month and TBC assessed four times per month. Milk recording is also in place and Robert feels these recordings give him a handle on what is happening with the herd. Supplying for drinking milk brands, he feels every step possible has to be taken to ensure the milk quality is absolutely 100 per cent," the judges commented.
Anne Maria - who is also the chairperson of Kerry Co-op - and her husband Patrick Cotter milked 60 cows in 2011, with 70 cows in spring milk this year. The farm has about 160 acres, or 65 hectares, in total, with about 50 hectares of land on the home farm and an additional 15 hectares located nine miles away.
"For the full 12 months of 2011 average TBCs are 10,000, ranging from 5,000 – 17,000. Average somatic cell counts are 122,000 with average butterfat 3.65%, protein 3.28% and lactose 4.72%. Milk is collected every three day, SCC levels are assessed eight times per month, TBC twice a month and milk recording is in place," the judges said.
They were each warmly congratulated by Henry Shefflin who presented the prizes. Speaking at the awards he said: "We are seeing Irish dairy farming excellence here which is consistently delivering high standards of milk quality for consumers, based on a foundation of dedication, commitment and attention to detail every day - and driven by having a real sense of enthusiasm and passion in what you do."