Bunratty dairy farmer, Joe Melody has been named Clare Macra Young Farmer of the Year.
Melody will now represent the county in the 2020 Macra na Feirme FBD Young Farmer of the Year competition. Entrants were judged according to a number of criteria including farm business initiative and innovation, levels of farm efficiency and enterprise quality, farm safety and environmental protection awareness, as well as agricultural knowledge and community involvement.
Judges for the Clare competition in Clare included current Macra na Feirme Agricultural Affairs committee Chairperson Shane Fitzgerald and former winner of the overall competition John Buckley. Competition was strong but the Newmarket-on-Fergus farmer was selected as the pick of the crop.
The dairy farmer who runs both a beef and dairy enterprise milks a herd of 139 Holstein-cross British Friesian cows, along with a pedigree herd of Charolais and Limousin cows.
In 2015, Joe was milking 75 cows and since then the Melodys have expanded and are now milking 139 cows, they are hopeful this figure will rise to between 160-170 cows in the near future.
“We bought a lot of breeding stock, from a local farmer, such as in-calf cows and heifers, as well as breeding our own replacements. At the moment, we are milking around 140 cows, but next year we would like to push that up to 160-170. We try to keep our meal bill low and try to maximise the amount of grass going into the cows’ diets as we have the land capacity to achieve that. The milking platform is just over 40ha, so we are well-stocked,” Joe explained.
The prize for the overall national winner is a €3,000 travel bursary and category winners get €500 each. There are additional awards for emerging young farmer, most climate change conscious young farmer, the National Rural Network Biodiversity Award and Best Farm Manager. The final is scheduled to take place on November 24th.