On Tuesday, our group visited the Alltech European Bioscience Centre at Dunboyne, Ireland. Kevin Tuck, Managing Director, told us the company has offices world-wide and is headquartered in Kentucky. The founder, Pearse Lyons, was in whiskey production and then used his knowledge to apply yeast formulation to the challenges of animal nutrition. Kevin shared the vision of the company and the potential challenges coming to Ireland because of Brexit. Ireland is located further north than Winnipeg but because of the Gulf Stream, the weather is temperate, allowing for the production of magnificent grasslands across 80 percent of the country. There are 4.5 million people in the country and 6.7 million bovines. Ireland’s farmers produce food for 45 million people and have the potential to do much more.
Peter Farrell Dairy farm.
Peter Farrell Dairy farm.
At Peter Farrell’s dairy farm in Kilmessan, Peter provided information about his dairy, which has 740 cows at two locations. The cows are in pastures within a mile of the milking barn, which reduces stress and produces more milk. “We rely on the weather. We need to have rains and sunshine to grow the grass we need for our cows. If there is a drought, we have to feed more dry matter, which is not cost-effective for us. We’ve found we need sheds for calving but otherwise the animals are in paddocks. We measure the height of hay and move the cattle accordingly with a 21-day rotation for pastures.” He is in a cooperative buying group that pools its buying power to get the best price, plus also lets local suppliers know they will be getting their business. He said the most important part is an informal group of farmers who get together to share information about their operations, including financial info. They share knowledge and share problems, which gives them each courage to handle challenges. He was very open with the group, sharing info about the costs of land and how farmers are able to procure financing.
Lunch with family at bull finishing farm.
At another farm, we enjoyed visiting with the Mark Moore family while sitting on straw bales,eating our lunch, and having tea and scones. The yard had buildings 250 years old as well as new facilities. Mark chooses to concentrate on finishing 1,200 bulls each year but says it is not penciling out. With young sons, he is considering getting into the dairy business, but with the unknowns coming from Brexit, they may wait to see what happens. He shared the carcass confirmation grading scores used to measure the quality of cattle, using a rating of E, U, R, O and P. Once he buys calves, they are on grass until they reach a certain weight. Then he moves them indoors to finish with a ration. If the animals would stay outside, they would move around too much and develop more muscle rather than the desired fat for marbling.
We stopped briefly to see Trim Castle, which is where the movie “Braveheart,” featuring Mel Gibson, was made.
Bus driver, Sean.
Michael with John Coffey, owner and chef at Thyme Restaurant. Below is the customized menu for our group and sign from nearby Sean’s Pub, the oldest pub in the world!
For supper, we had a delightful farm-to-table dinner served at the Thyme Restaurant in Athlone. Michael’s friend John Coffey is the chef. Meals are locally sourced. The starters, entrees, and desserts were amazing and service superb. From there, we stopped at Sean’s Bar, which claims to be the oldest pub in the world and is listed in the Guinness Worlds Records in 2004.