ETTG: Milking over 1,000 cows in 4 counties


Bill O’Keeffe spent 5 years building a 300-cow

ETTG: Milking over 1,000 cows in 4 counties

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Bill O’Keeffe spent 5 years building a 300-cow

On tonight’s episode of Ear to the Ground, Helen Carroll digs for relics on the ruins of a 13th-century farm in Drogheda and Darragh McCullough finds out how one family farm in Kildare is dealing with a succession dilemma.

Ella McSweeney meets dairy farmer, Bill O'Keeffe, who set up a farming franchise which now milks over 1000 cows in 4 counties.

Uncovering hidden secrets

Intrigued by an ancient ruin on his land, retired farmer John McCullen set about finding out more.

After a summer of delicate digging, a team of archaeologists confirmed that the ruin was of a 13th-century farm, established by French Cistercian monks, to grow and process grain and wool for export to France.

Helen Carroll tries her hand at digging for relics and talks to John McCullen and mediaeval historian, Dr Matthew Stout, about the extraordinary insight into farming in the Norman era.

Succession dilemma

Who takes over the family farm is an enduring challenge for Irish farmers. Today, over half of farmers have not identified a successor.

Deirdre O’Sullivan and Norman Kenny have been farming for over 30 years and want to step back from their busy organic farm and market,

So, they’ve partnered with a young farm manager, Colm Warner and engaged the Farm Mobility Service to work out a succession plan.

Darragh McCullough visits Nurney Organic Farm in Kildare to discover a new way of handing on a farm business.

A new farming franchise

Taking over the family farm at the age of 20, Bill O’Keeffe spent 5 years building a 300-cow herd. With no access to extra land on the home farm, Bill set about developing a share-milking and leasing company - matching retiring dairy farmers with young farm managers who want to invest in cows.

The company, Saturn Farms, now milks over 1000 cows in 4 counties.

Ella McSweeney meets Bill and his wife Audrey to find out what’s in it for the young farmers who want a share of the profits.

Tune into RTÉ One tonight (Thursday, November 7th) at 8:30pm.

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