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.