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My farming week: Des and Cathal McHugh, Strokestown, Co Roscommon
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My farming week: Des and Cathal McHugh, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

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Des and Cathal McHugh are dairy farmers from Co Roscommon. They were recently rewarded for having one of the lowest somatic cell counts in the country. Patrick Donohoe speaks to Cathal.
Des and Cathal McHugh are dairy farmers from Co Roscommon. They were recently rewarded for having one of the lowest somatic cell counts in the country. Patrick Donohoe speaks to Cathal.

I farm: “On 220ac, 160ac is owned, in Strokestown, Co Roscommon. We have dairy cows and we still have a few sucklers too.”

Cows: “We’ll be milking 80 cows next year, up from 64 this year. We started out with 35 cows in 2013 and have been growing since then. The cows are British Friesian / Holstein crosses. I didn’t want to go down the extreme Holstein route. The sucklers are all Limousin. I wouldn’t have anything else.”

Performance: “The cows averaged 3.55% protein and 4.57% fat this year. We’ve dried off now, but for the last few weeks, we had been going once-a-day milking.”

Supply: “We supply Aurivo. No issues there, but you could always do with a few cent more.”

CellCheck: “We got a new plaque for the parlour last week at the CellCheck awards. Our SCC last year was 56,000. Keeping the SCC and the TBC low is huge to what we do here. It’s crucial.”

Education: “I did the two-year Green Cert in Mountbellew. It probably could’ve been all done in the one year, but it was worthwhile at the same time.”

Cashflow: “We started milking in 2014. We had 50 sucklers before that. We still have 22 cows to calve in the spring. I have a few Limousin heifers too that I might sell as in-calf next year. It’s good for the cashflow.”

New parlour: “Only for we’re building a new parlour, we’d still be milking. We’re installing a new 12-unit parlour – we had an eight-unit one.”

Outside of farming: “I don’t get up to a whole lot. I like going out, having a few pints, you know yourself.”

Family: “There’s my father Des and I have three sisters. If I play the cards right, I’ll get the farm! My girlfriend is Kellie. She gets the Hunter wellies dirty every now and again.”

Quotable quote: “Switching to dairying is a big commitment; it’s like having a second woman.”

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