Dr Kevin O’Farrell, former head of the dairy production department, Teagasc Moorepark passed away on 27 July after a long illness borne with the courage, wit and humour that was characteristic of Kevin.
Aged 76, he grew up on a farm in Castletownroche in north Cork. After school in his local parish and St Colman’s College Fermoy, he studied for and received a degree in Veterinary Medicine from UCD and later a PhD degree for his work on cow fertility.
He was pre-deceased by his wife Aggie, who died only 12 days before. They are survived by their children David, Paul and Susie.
Kevin worked in Moorepark Research Centre for 33 years before leaving to found his own consultancy business. Initially his research was into infertility in dairy cows.
He identified plane of nutrition, accurate heat detection and timing of insemination as important components of fertility in spring calving herds.
He identified “tail-painting” as a simple, cheap and highly effective aid to heat detection and the practice was rapidly taken up by the industry.
He was also involved in research into lameness in cows, calf mortality, mastitis and diseases such as leptospirosis, brucellosis and Johne’s.
Most notably, Kevin was a key member of the advisory group set up by Minister for Agriculture Joe Walsh to respond to foot-and-mouth disease in 2001.
An easy way
Kevin had an easy way with people and his wit and banter meant that his presentations to open day groups and to farmers meetings were well received. He had an impressive list of scientific and technical papers and addressed scientific meetings in many countries.
He was well recognised internationally and was instrumental in hosting the World Buiatrics Congress – an organisation of cattle veterinarians – in Ireland in 1986 and 2016.
As head of the Teagasc dairy production department, Kevin oversaw a greatly expanded staffing and research programme with close links to Irish and overseas universities.
Outside of work Kevin was an accomplished sportsman. He was a distinguished hurler with his native Castletownroche and St Colman’s College and represented Cork in minor and under 21 grades in the 1960s, winning All-Ireland medals in the process.
In later years, his passion was golf and he served as captain and president of Fermoy Golf Club.
May Kevin rest in peace.