With the farm within the family for over 300 years, it seemed like only a natural progression for Jack Hahessy Madigan to step up to the mark and take the reins.
Little do people know that Mr. Madigan initially considered a career in Engineering but a change of plan resulted in a rapid change to Mountbellew/G.M.I.T’s Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness course.
Jack, hailing from Windgap, Co. Kilkenny is now one of Ireland’s leading Agricultural entrepreneurs and is the man behind Kilkenny Rosé Veal.
While his journey into the Agribusiness sector may not have been a direct one, Jack can look back on his powerful venture into the discipline with pride.
“We have been involved in many areas of farming including Suckler and Tillage. When I realised Engineering wasn’t for me, I wanted to find a way to go back to the land and pursue a career in Agriculture.” Jack told Catherina of That’s Farming.
Establishing his own business
Being an ambitious and driven young Irish man, Jack decided to get ahead of the curve in order to carve out a progressive future career path.
Keeping the value and significance of the family farm in mind and eliminating the possibility of a system that was require a land bank system, an indoors operation appeared to be the ideal fit.
Reviewing the abolishment of the milk quotas and the expanding dairy herd, Jack was of the opinion that naturally enough a large influx of dairy bull calves would emerge onto the Irish marketplace.
This was in fact his light-bulb moment, as a niche for veal meat in the market was identified by the young Kilkenny man.
“Every year, it is an ongoing act that approximately 50,000 Irish calves go into veal production in Holland and a certain amount of high-quality cuts of veal are brought back into Ireland. I recognised an opening in the market here.” Jack explained.
Kilkenny Rosé Veal
Kilkenny Rosé Veal was born as a result and Jack is proof of the pudding that young farmers can manage their own AgriBusiness.
To kick-start the enterprise and to keep the supply flowing, a total of ten calves were purchased over a period of eight months, totalling to eighty calves.
With a small amount of interest expressed by beef processing plants, but what happened next is a story within itself.
Jack didn’t cease in his tracks there and he turned his attention to a local butcher Grogan & Browne in Kilkenny.
As Kilkenny Rosé Veal continued to gain traction, the local butcher sold the animal to Campagne Restaurant Kilkenny.
“When the restaurant received the piece of veal, they rang back straight away and said don’t sell any more of that animal. I’ll take the whole animal. Then, I thought I was on a winner here because of the positive feedback.” Jack explained.
Sky-rocketing to success
The enterprise has continued to snowball since its establishment; however Jack admits that the journey has been of a rather difficult nature at times.
“The farming for the veal production is only one third of the work, but sales, marketing and logistics are paramount. The cost of production is way too high to sell for conventional use. You have to predict today when you are buying calves what you are going to sell in eight months from now. There is a big opportunity being missed for Irish farmers to produce veal here for export rather than exporting the 2 week old calf.” Jack said.
Running Kilkenny Rosé Veal which sits on 160 acres is a rather busy operation.
The land is sown under Miscanthus, a renewable energy crop that has been converted to electricity up until recently.
All calves are sourced directly from dairy farmers across the South-East on a monthly basis in order to maintain a steady supply of calves.
Calves from one to eight-months of age are to be found on the Madigan’s family farm, which is paramount to the efficient running of the enterprise.
Animal Husbandry and Welfare is a firm philosophy and Kilkenny Rosé Veal is a recipient of a prestigious award from Compassion World Farming.
This has allowed the enterprise to make history by becoming the first farm-to-table producer of high welfare veal, known as Rosé Veal.
The calves receive a specially formulated diet of hay, cereals and of course milk, which is fed through an automatic feeder.
Every calf has a unique collar which provides a full health assessment of each individual calf and in turn allows for the evaluation of performance.
They calves are not housed in individual penning and they are grouped according to the social group that they arrive in, in a spacious area with thick straw bedding.
A strong emphasis is placed on the implementation of a vaccination programme in constant co-operation with veterinary practitioners.
The farm strives to reduce their utilisation of antibiotics as much as possible.
Orders are taken on a Monday and the animals are slaughtered the following day.
“A lot of people seem to think that veal is a cruel meat to eat. With regards the diet, we allows our calves to develop naturally as they should. We take really good care on the farm and we are always trying to improve our systems on the farm.” Jack said.
The Friesian calves are 350kg live weight at 8 months and they kill-out at 180kg.
Kilkenny Rosé Veal is full of delicious tastes and textures, along with being low in fat and high in omega 3.
Wholesalers, butchers and high-end hotels and restaurants all have expressed interest in produce from Kilkenny Rosé Veal.
Household consumers can produce a new special €50 home delivery box of veal.
The Bright Future
The future will continue to shine bright for Kilkenny Rosé Veal and the man behind the leading operation has many plans stirring in the pipeline.
The three main objectives are to focus on branching into Wholesales, export and retail markets.
“We are really working on the export front at the moment. We have exported to Belgium and we hope that this will flourish, but is it only early days yet. The main thing is to build up the business slowly and to keep going, as that is the main thing.” Jack concluded.
Keep up-to-date with Kilkenny Rosé Veal.
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