How this young farmer has developed a premium food brand
'It’s a big problem for young people, to come home to a family farm and put added-on value on what you have on the existing farm and eke out your own income and life from it'
Before too long, the family team behind Kilkenny Rosé Veal hope their product will be the go-to choice for discerning diners when it comes to choosing veal.
The brand name that immediately comes to mind and is recognised on menus nationwide and, even, internationally.
They’re well on the way to getting there. In its short history, Kilkenny Rosé Veal has already found itself sitting on the menu of some top restaurants - including the award-winning Campagne in Kilkenny city - and on the meat trays of numerous high-quality butchers.
The brainchild of young Windgap farmer Jack Hahessy Madigan, with the help of his father Bill and uncle Paul, this premium food is successfully battling perceptions of Irish veal, and veal in general.
During his time at Mountbellew Agricultural College, Jack was looking around for something he could concentrate his efforts on upon graduating, “something that wouldn’t need a landbank,” given the family’s farm was already largely given over to growing miscanthus.
“A small amount of veal was being brought back into Ireland to be sold in Italian restaurants and Michelin-starred restaurants. Having gone from being beef finishers, we were good on feeding and we had plenty of experience and the equipment to feed cattle.
“It’s a big problem for young people in agriculture, to come home to a family farm and put added-on value on what you have on the existing farm and eke out your own income and life from it. The veal fitted the bill.”
In early 2015 - over a year before Jack’s graduation in 2016 - they started buying about 10 calves a month for veal purposes. “We had no real plan at the end to sell them, only that we would buy 10 a month and rear them and see how we would get along.”