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'I don't like show ponies, I like to use the vintage tractors on the farm where I can'

My Week: Tamara Payne talks to Daniel Moy

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Vintage time: Daniel May on his farm on the outskirts of Ardara with his vintage 135 Massey. Photo Clive Wasson

Vintage time: Daniel May on his farm on the outskirts of Ardara with his vintage 135 Massey. Photo Clive Wasson

Vintage time: Daniel May on his farm on the outskirts of Ardara with his vintage 135 Massey. Photo Clive Wasson

After trialling a couple of different farm systems, Daniel Moy hopes that he has found the farm system that works best for him.

"I got into farming slightly by default," says Daniel, from Ardara, Co Donegal. "I didn't exactly grow up on a farm - my great-uncle and my grandfather were farmers and I spent some time on their farms. When they passed away I inherited the land and that's when my farming journey began."

Daniel, who also does shift work, started out with Angus cows but after three years of trying to make the farm a viable business he decided he had to make a change, "I found that as the years got wetter and wetter around here the cattle were harder to maintain. I had a lot of commonage land so I thought that sheep would be better suited to the ground, so I changed my farm system."

After selling the cows, Daniel bought blackfaced ewes and sold their lambs as stores.

"Today I have a mixed flock of about 80 sheep, half hill ewes and cross ewes. I've been changing the rams every year for the past 4-5 years as I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me and my farm," he says.

"The never ending challenge is the weather. The hill ground is getting saturated and the cost of feeding sheep outdoors is too high. It has got to the stage that I am now looking into sourcing housing for my sheep."

Daniel is still selling most of his lambs as stores for onward finishing or breeding.

"I feel that finishing lambs around here is too expensive unless you have very good reseeded ground as you have to buy too much meal and it just isn't profitable enough," he says.

With two small children, Daniel is making every effort to ensure that he can be self-sufficient, and for him this means reducing food miles.

"We have set gardens and we now grow our own vegetables, it's a great interest for the children, they love it," he says.

"I also get some of my lambs killed for our freezer, it means that our food travels less distance to get to our table."

At the moment, Daniel has gathered all of his sheep from various locations on the farm for pregnancy scanning.

"Thankfully I didn't have many blank ewes so I was happy with the scans. I then had to separate the sheep carrying twins and those carrying singles," he says.

"I usually lamb the twins indoor and the singles outdoors. I had to dose all of the sheep and give them a mineral drench too."

Most of the tractors and machinery he uses on the farm are vintage.

"My interest in vintage tractors started when I was very young - I always kept a few tractors and then used them on my farm. I don't always like show ponies, I like to use them where I can," says Daniel.

Daniel's vintage tractor collection includes a TVO Ferguson, Ferguson Gold Belly 35, David Brown 1490 and Massey 135.

"As well as using my tractors on the farm, I bring them to shows around Donegal and across the entire country," he says.

"It's a great way to meet other people with similar interests and it's always a great day out for myself, my wife Rosie and our kids. I believe that it helps to preserve our agricultural heritage at the same time."

Daniel's latest project has been restoring a 10x6 trailer which was built in Donegal and traditionally used to haul warren sand, when it was permitted to do so.

"I bought the trailer when I was just 15 years old and it cost me £915. I recently restored it and now it looks great behind the 135."

Indo Farming