Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 26 March 2019

'There's no point being up half the night - you're no good to yourself or the sheep'

Farmer, Dan OLoughlin, left and Denis Bourke, from Johnstownbridge pictured on his farm at , Mountrice, Monasterevin, Kildare, at the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk, Co. Kildare. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Farmer, Dan OLoughlin, left and Denis Bourke, from Johnstownbridge pictured on his farm at , Mountrice, Monasterevin, Kildare, at the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk, Co. Kildare. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Farmer, Dan OLoughlin, pictured on his farm at , Mountrice, Monasterevin, Kildare, at the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk, Co. Kildare. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Farmer, Dan OLoughlin, left and Denis Bourke, from Johnstownbridge pictured on his farm at , Mountrice, Monasterevin, Kildare, at the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk, Co. Kildare. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Dan O'Loughlin says he always makes a point of getting at least six hours' sleep during lambing - he has a mix of 208 Belclare and Suffolk ewes.

He hosted a Grass10 Sheep Grazing Farm Walk, on his farm in Mountrice near Monasterevin, Co Kildare.

"We are expecting 360 live lambs. I don't mind the first three weeks, it's the last week when I usually begin to wilt a bit. I do go to bed at night and I do get six hours' sleep. I make a point of that," says Dan, who took over his Kildare farm in 1988 from his father Eddie, who is now aged 89.

"There's no point being up half the night and not being able to work the next day. You're no good to yourself or the sheep."

Ewes and their lambs pictured on Dan Loughlin's farm in Mountrice, Monasterevin, Kildare, at the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk, Co. Kildare. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Ewes and their lambs pictured on Dan Loughlin's farm in Mountrice, Monasterevin, Kildare, at the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk, Co. Kildare. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Dan feels that the looming Brexit may lead to increased lamb prices.

"If there aren't enough lambs here then I feel lamb prices will increase," he says.

"We used to have five million ewes; we have over two million now, so we are getting paid for them whereas we weren't a few years ago. It's all about supply and demand."

About 60 acres of Dan's 140-acre farm is dedicated to tillage, which he has planted with winter barley and will soon plant with spring barley.

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A farm trip to Austria a few years ago inspired him to plant a small hardwood plantation.

"I did it as an environmental thing and thought it would be nice to look at - it's coming to its first thinning fairly soon," he adds.

Belclare cross Ewes on Dan Loughlin's farm in Mountrice, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, where the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Belclare cross Ewes on Dan Loughlin's farm in Mountrice, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, where the Grass10 Early Spring Grazing Sheep Walk took place. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

"What struck me on those farms was that the forestry will be a bank for every generation and is quite valuable."

Dan is married to Yvonne, an accountant, and they have three grown-up children.

They made a conscious decision to keep Yvonne's income as he knew the farm wouldn't be sustainable enough to fund a family. Dan envisages that he will lease the land to a dairy farmer when he retires as it is a growing industry in the area.

"These farms aren't big enough to sustain a family anymore, and without a second income we wouldn't have been able to do it either," he says.

"There's less sheep people than before. Anybody who is the right age profile here is leaving sucklers and going to dairying.

"It's just the way it is, it's an economic necessity, the average is a 100 cow dairy unit but there are bigger ones."

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