Ciara Kinsella farms 25ha in Crossabeg, Co Wexford. Farming in partnership with her mother, Frances, Ciara’s focus is on diversifying the farm, and she breeds sporthorses, while her husband Liam keeps bees.
There is also a 6ha forestry plantation on the farm. Ciara is also a vet, and so is busy managing the farm and the sporthorse business alongside her work off farm.
Ewe numbers on the farm are back on the previous year to 95 ewes, and Ciara has also made some changes to the breeds she keeps, by introducing a blue Texel ram into the flock this breeding season.
The rams are now made up of a Charollais, LLeyn and Blue Texel. The Lleyn was a new addition last year, and while Ciara was happy with the vigour of the lambs and the ease of lambing, she is not satisfied with how they are finishing.
However, as the Lleyn has good maternal traits, Ciara plans to keep some of the ewe lambs as replacements. After this, she plans to go back to a Texel ram.
At the moment, the farm is a hive of activity. There are 80 lambs still to be finished, which is more than other years.
Ciara puts this down to the dry summer and the lack of grass, as there would usually only be 20 to 40 of the lightest ones left at this time of year.
The last batch usually leave the farm in November. There is no meal fed yet, and Ciara hopes to draft another batch of lambs for the factory this weekend, and plans to start anything over 42kg left on meal. There is great grass at the minute, and the lambs are thriving on this.
So far, lambs have killed out well. Forty-five went to the factory, Irish Country Meats, in Camolin at the start of October.
Paddocks will start to be closed up from next week, and the dung will also be spread in the coming weeks. The ewes won’t be housed until December.
Ciara is conscious of improving the sustainability of her farm, and has taken several measures to improve the habitats and biodiversity of the holding.
So far, she has planted a multispecies sward, as well as put up owl boxes and cut back on artificial nitrogen use.
There is also a wild bird cover on the farm. Ciara had planned to put in another multispecies sward this year. However, the farm was too tight on grass and the weather was not working in her favour.
In addition to putting in another multispecies sward, Ciara also hopes to put in two acres of agro forestry and plant more hedgerows.
A multispecies sward is composed of three or more species, usually grasses, herbs and legumes and provides multiple sources of protein, energy and minerals for livestock.
When they are combined in a sward, the different species root at varying depths, which means they can access more nutrients and moisture in the soil.
Red and white clover play an integral part of these swards and they provide the nitrogen to produce high quantities of dry matter production. The sward on Ciara’s farm comprises perennial ryegrass, chicory, plantain and clover, and she notes the animals are performing well on it.
Ciara and her husband, Liam, began beekeeping three years ago, starting off with six hives. They now have 14, and plan to increase this.
Raw honey is sold on the farm’s website under the Tykillen Farm brand, as well as a range of other products such as beeswax candles, soaps, lip balms and hand salves, which Ciara makes herself.