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Countdown on to country’s top prize for best quality milk


The countdown is underway to the announcement of the winners of the country’s top prizes for best quality milk.

The winning family farms in the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards celebrating excellence in Irish dairy farming are due to be announced shortly.

The contestants in the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards hail from all over the country. Two farms supplying Glanbia are finalists this year Kieran and Ann Hearne, Ballinacurra, Rathgormack, Co Waterford and Pat and Miriam Kiely, in partnership with Pat’s nephew Ciaran Hanrahan in Ballinamult, Co Waterford. Glanbia Ireland is delighted to have such strong farming ambassadors representing their suppliers in this years’ finals.

The Kiely and Hanrahan partnership in Co Waterford

Key figures:

  • Herd EBI - €139
  • TBC ‘000 - 5.2
  • SCC cells/ml ‘000 – 74
  • Milk solids kg/cow – 575
  • Milk solids kg/ha – 1,245
  • Protein % - 3.59
  • Fat % - 4.18


The farm in the Ballinamult hills has been in the family for almost 200 years. The PMC dairy farm partnership was formed, after Ciaran joined his uncle and aunt after completing the professional diploma in Dairy Farm Management in Kildalton College.

“I grew up working on our mixed family farm but working with the cows was always my favourite and when I got the chance to take over the farm I knew this was where my future lay,” said Pat.

Both Pat and Ciaran said they have been building the farm up and developing it throughout the years.

The partnership feels that the future success of the farm will be defined by growing high quality grass, breeding high EBI cows to convert that grass into high KGs of milk solids and also keeping a high focus on milk quality and good animal husbandry. They are eager to ensure the farm is a positive work environment for all involved.

“We need to fine tune all that we have done over the last few years and then we can look at the next phase of development,” they said. They work hard to ensure they deliver quality milk, and are good adopters of technology and best practice. Selective dry cow drying off is practised on the farm with good results.

“We always have two people milking and we feel to milk 272 cows well and produce quality milk this is needed. Quality milk is our cornerstone and we put in the hours to keep it right and do not cut corners,” they said.

The partnership was set up in 2015 directly following the abolition of quota. In recent years they have put in place roadways, water systems and reseeded to allow for the build up of stock numbers.

In 2017, they extended the dairy, and upgraded to 24 units. The total area of the farm is 122ha, this include 87ha available for the cows and a recent addition of 24ha.

“Be sure of what you want to do. Farming is a commitment. But absolutely do it. I knew there was potential and I’d tell myself that it is worth putting the work into it. The work and effort will all be worth it,” said Pat on what he would say to any young person starting out in farming.

The Hearne family

Key figures:

  • Herd EBI - €184
  • TBC ‘000 - 9
  • SCC cells/ml ‘000 – 72
  • Milk solids kg/cow – 503
  • Milk solids kg/ha – 1,141
  • Protein % - 3.73
  • Fat % - 4.55


“The quality of our milk is very important to us and we take huge pride and satisfaction in having this as good as possible, as we do in having our farm looking well and running smoothly,” said Kieran and Ann Hearne, who farm at the foot of the Comeragh mountains outside Carrick-on-Suir with their four children Laurence (17), Fiona (15), Conor (12) and Stephen (10).

“Our herd is a high EBI Holstein Friesian herd (ranked as one of the top herds in the country) that calves compactly in the spring to produce top quality, high milk solids from grass. I am very passionate about producing milk from grass and aim to have grass in the cows diet while they are in milk,” said Kieran.

A number of bulls have been sold into AI from our herd under the Curra prefix and one of them Curra Fionn (named after their daughter Fiona) is currently the number one bull on EBI in Ireland.

Attention to detail is key on the farm, with the investment priorities in the cows, buildings and grazing infrastructure.

In 1992 when Kieran took over the farm, they operated a mixed dairy and cattle enterprise with 28 cows on 28ha producing 135,000lts of milk. Today they have 190cows on 82ha selling 1.1million litres to Glanbia.

In 2017, they invested in a slurry storage unit and 100 cubicles were built. The Hearnes farm 82ha in total. The Hearnes have also installed automatic calf feeders to aid with the workload during the springtime.

The Glanbia Ireland team wish the two Waterford based farmers all the best in these awards.

First Published 1 October 2019


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