Westmeath farm in national dairy finals

Finalists David Boland and family pictured with the judges. L-r: Professor Patrick Wall, UCD, national judge for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards; Damien, Niall, and Colin Boland; finalists Kathleen and David Boland; Dr David Gleeson, Teagasc, a national judge for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards; and colleagues from Aurivo Co-operative Society.

Finalists David Boland and family pictured with the judges. L-r: Professor Patrick Wall, UCD, national judge for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards; Damien, Niall, and Colin Boland; finalists Kathleen and David Boland; Dr David Gleeson, Teagasc, a national judge for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards; and colleagues from Aurivo Co-operative Society.

Fourteen dairy farms - including one from Co Westmeath - have been shortlisted as national finalists for the 2013 National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. The Westmeath finalists are David and Kathleen Boland from Cartron’s Glebe, Horseleap.

The competition sets out to highlight and reward Irish dairy farming excellence. The results will be announced on October 21, with the overall winning farmer set to receive a prize of €5,000 and the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual trophy.

David Boland from Horseleap is a liquid milk dairy farmer based at Horseleap, who supplies fresh milk all year round to Aurivo Co-operative (previously Connacht Gold ), usually through Sligo Dairies. About 40 per cent of milk is supplied in winter and about 60 per cent in spring.

He milked 90 cows in 2012 with average herd yield of 7,728 from his farm, which totals 90 hectares between his own land and some leased land. David describes the land as a good quality mixture of limestone and highland. David’s parents, Anthony and Ann Boland, originally moved into dairy farming in 1959 when Snowcream Dairies opened in Moate, and the family have gradually bought and extended the farm over the years to its current size.

David and his wife Kathleen now focus on dairy farming with their family of four children who are all involved in helping out on the farm.

The eldest son, Niall (21 ) is dairy farming with David. Fiona (19 ) is studying Business Studies in college in Athlone. Damien (17 ) has just finished his Leaving Certificate, and Colin (14 ) is in secondary school.

David has a Gascoigne milking parlour which is three years old and which is built to take 16 units although they are currently using 14. He also has a plate cooler allowing him to collect water from the tank for washing areas outside of the machine.

SCC levels are tested once a week and TBC assessed approximately twice a month. The herd’s average TBC results are three, with average SCC of 112. Butterfat average is 3.78 per cent, protein 3.3 per cent, and lactose 4.73 per cent.

Cows are normally out on grass from February in fenced paddocks. In the post quota environment of 2015, David would like to see the herd expand and maintained at a level of about 110 cows.

The shortlisted farms in the Milk Awards received inspection visits from all three members of the expert judging panel - Professor Paddy Wall, associate professor of public health at UCD; Dr Jack Kennedy, dairy editor, Irish Farmers Journal; and Dr David Gleeson, milk quality research, Teagasc. They scrutinised technical information and farm management practices supporting each farm’s consistently excellent quality milk standards. They also reviewed aspects of contemporary dairy farming ranging from sustainability and animal welfare to care of the environment.

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