*JJ, Joe, Frank and Ann Melody.

BUNRATTY’S FRANK MELODY has been named as the enterprise young farmer of the year.

In what has been dubbed a very proud moment for the Newmarket-on-Fergus family, Frank won the other enterprises FBD Young Farmer of the Year at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Little Island, Cork on Tuesday night.

A trainee solicitor, Frank runs the pastured egg business Melody Farm Eggs on their family farm alongside his older brother Joe who was awarded the 2020 National Rural Network Biodiversity Farmer of the Year Award.

Frank was joined in Cork by his parents JJ and Ann plus his brother and business partner, Joe.

After plans to travel to Central and South America in 2020 were thrown into disarray, Frank used the additional time at his disposal and the spare cash in the back-pocket to establish Melody Farm Pastured Eggs.

Prior to this, the twenty nine year old had followed Virginia based Joel Salatin who owns Polyface farms which is a regenerative farm and focused on direct sales to customers in his locality.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Frank explained the appeal of pastured rather than free-range eggs. “Pastured is grass-fed, the hens are in their most natural environment, they would be eating grass, insects, feed and whatever foraging they can do. The normal free-range or caged, they don’t get the same access to fresh grass and you will see that in the texture and the taste of the egg, there is a different nutrient profile with less cholesterol in the pastured egg, higher vitamin D because the hens are constantly out in the sun and they are moving so they are healthier in general.

“There is an ethical element too, the mortality rate with pastured hens is far lower than it would be for caged or barns, it’s a double whammy and is ultimately regenerative agriculture. Even the egg mobile we have it actually fertilises the ground, when they are inside the egg mobile at night, the whole ground floor is meshed so their droppings go straight down to the ground, it builds up a fertile top-soil plus the hens fertilise the ground as they move along, they pick up a lot of the worms and the like that would make cattle sick. Hens are moved regularly so they don’t pick up the parasites on the ground themselves. I don’t give them any doses or antibiotics or anything like that because there is no need because they move so regularly, pastured is grass-fed in its most simple form but there is a whole other element,” the Newmarket-on-Fergus senior hurler said.

Melody Eggs initially utilised social media to drive direct sales to customers but the agriculture business has since expanded with their product now stocked in several stores across Co Clare.

West Clare’s Neil Reidy was also in the running alongside Melody for the FBD Young Farmer of the Year award which was claimed by Sligo’s Christopher Tuffy. He is the fourth member of the West Awake Discussion Group, which has been running since 1999, to win the Young Farmer of the Year award

Tuffy, who also plays football with Enniscrone/Kilglass GAA, leases a 150 acre farm and is milking in the region of 155 cows currently. The focus on his dairy farm is on grass, and producing milk solids from grass.

Reidy milks 111 spring calving cows on predominately heavy soils land. He graduated with a Level 6 Certificate in Farming from Salesian Agricultural College.

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