Three generations of the Mulhall family are currently at the helm of a thriving dairy and tillage farm, which has been in the family for at least three centuries.
Based 2km outside Kilkenny City, 20-year old Doireann Mulhall and her family - father, Jim; grandad Tom and brother Cathal own and manage a herd of pedigree Holstein Friesians under the ‘Danville’ prefix.
150 Holstein Friesian cows; 52 maiden heifers and 70 heifer calves which have been earmarked as replacements dominate the historic holding.
The family has a liquid milk contract with Glanbia, which requires 40% of the cows to calve down in autumn in order to fulfil the contract.
Due to the limited availability of land around the farm, a zero-grazed system is at the fore of the farm; 100 cows are retained indoors on a full-time basis on a buffer and zero-grazed grass diet, while an additional fifty cows are outdoors full-time.
“We have expanded cow numbers this year to 150 and we milk on a nine-unit double-up parlour. Construction is due to begin soon for the expansion and new build of the cow-shed with the inclusion of robots.
As a long-standing member of the Young Members Association(YMA) of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association(IHFA) and the YMA Co-Ordinator for the Carlow/Kilkenny Club, Doireann is no stranger to show scene.
The Kilkenny native first embraced a white coat and her competitive streak at the age of four and continues to travel the length and breadth of the country to exhibit the herd’s cream. She can be found in the centre of the show ring at several local and national shows including Clonmel; Ossory; Tullamore and Iverk.
Doireann regards her involvement in the IHFA YMA National Calf Show as one of her biggest milestone memories to date, along with several more achievements.
“It is now part of my life and I love every moment of it. I have had some many great years of showing and have made lifelong friends.” She revealed.
Competing across the waters
“I have represented Ireland abroad three times; twice I was selected on the team to travel to Battice in Belgium to compete in the European Young Breeders School. I placed second in my class the first time and fifth, the second.” Doireann said.
“I also travelled to England with the Irish team to compete at a UK Rally. I also won individual U26 stock judging at the National IHFA Open Day 2016.” She added.
Along with juggling her farming commitments, Doireann is also studying a level-8 degree in Agricultural Science - Animal Science at University College Dublin (UCD). She enrolled in the course in 2016 and will graduate with her degree in 2020.
“From the beginning of my second-level studies, I always knew that I wanted to take the Agricultural route. A family friend of ours completed the Agricultural Science course and recommended it.
“It was then I realised that it sounded exactly like what I wanted to do and from then, it was my aim to get there. It was always my first choice on the CAO and I was delighted when I got the offer.” Doireann highlighted.
Doireann will complete her Professional Work Experience (PWE) module in April of next year and will gain experience in the dairy; beef; sheep and pig sector as part of requirements ser by the college.
“At the moment, I am still looking into different areas for placement and what I would like to do. I will utilise this opportunity to identify my strengths; weakness and potential future careers.”
On the farming front, as the construction of the new parlour gets into gear, the Kilkenny family has intentions to expand their herd to 180 cows over the next number of years.
Looking forward to Doireann’s future, her main focus is to continue her third-level undergraduate studies, but she has not locked in any post-graduation plans as of yet.
“The option is there to do some further studies and I would love to do some travelling and see different farming systems around the world.”
“I hope to come home and be heavily involved in the farm but also have a job in the Agri industry,” Doireann concluded.
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