The IHFA National Open Day 2013 was held on the Kil­gar­riffe herd of Richard, Mar­ion and Mervyn Helen and fam­ily at Clon­akilty, Co Cork today. More than 2000 people attended the event, where up to 30 trades stands were on show.

The Helen fam­ily have been farm­ing at Kil­gar­riffe near Clon­akilty in scenic West Cork since 1954. The total area farmed is 200 hectares, 70 of which are at Kil­gar­riffe. Richard and Mar­ion took over the farm from Richard’s par­ents (Richard Senior and Bella) in 1982. How­ever they remained actively involved in the farm for many years. All of the younger gen­er­a­tion (Mervyn, Andrew, Wendy and Avril) have been actively involved on the farm since child­hood, with Mervyn return­ing home to farm along­side Richard and Mar­ion after com­plet­ing a degree in agri­cul­ture at Bishop Bur­ton, Yorkshire.

When Richard and Mar­ion took over the farm the dairy herd was at 60 cows and the milk­ing took place in a seven unit dou­ble up plant. Liq­uid milk is sup­plied to Clona Dairies and they also sup­ply milk to Lisavaird Co-op for cheese manufacture.

This autumn and spring calv­ing herd (50:50) is now at 200 cows on a milk­ing plat­form of 60 ha. Aver­age yield last year was an impres­sive 9132kgs at 4.06% but­ter­fat and 3.35%protein. There are 36EX, 102 VG and 60 GP clas­si­fied cows in the herd. The Kil­gar­riffe herd of Hol­stein Friesians has won many awards at local and National shows. Bulls used in recent years include Shot­tle, Oman, Seaver, Dober­man, and Shout.

As one would expect grass­land man­age­ment on the farm is first class and 20 per cent of the grass­land is reseeded per annum. Grass is utilised fully in the herd’s diet.  A high pro­por­tion of the feed required for their high yield­ing herd comes from grass, home grown for­age (grass and maize silage), cere­als (whole cropped or com­bined) and fod­der beet. They do all their own machin­ery and for­age work with the aid of only two part time workers.

Award Win­ning Fam­ily
The Helen fam­ily have won numer­ous awards in the Cork Hol­stein Friesian Breed­ers’ com­pe­ti­tion over the years. These awards included First Place for the Best Fam­ily in the 2009 Pre­mier Sec­tion. In the 2010 Pre­mier sec­tion they had the Sec­ond Place Best Calved Heifer and in the 1998 Premier/Elite Sec­tion they also won the Best Breed­ers Herd (Over 60 Cows cat­e­gory) for home bred cattle.

Mervyn rep­re­sented Clon­akilty in the Macra Dairy Stock­judg­ing Finals in 2011 which was held at the IHFA Open Day in Wick­low. Richard has won many prizes through the years– in 2012 he won the Senior Stock Judg­ing Cup pre­sented by the Cork Hol­stein Friesian Breed­ers Club

Avril was a mem­ber of the award win­ning Cork YMA team at the IHFA Open Day in 2010. She has been twice awarded Cork YMA Club Per­son of the Year. All the fam­ily com­pete reg­u­larly at the Cork Hol­stein Friesian Club field evenings

Jer­seys were pur­chased in 2005 as a hobby breed and Kil­gar­riffe is home of Braymeadow Junos Mickie EX94, the high­est clas­si­fied Jer­sey in the Repub­lic. She was also five times Cham­pion at the National Spring Fair and at Emer­ald Expo.