Ian and Marie Kingston and their children, Dylan and Emma, are farming in Dunmanway, West Cork. This is a challenging, hilly farm, 500ft to 800ft above sea level. The judges found this out quickly as we trailed behind Ian during our visit.

The farm started with Ian Kingston’s grandfather, Harry Kingston, back in the 1920s. There has been steady progress since that time, in particular with Ian’s parents, Dick and Kathleen, who availed of modernisation grants and world bank loans in the 1970s to reclaim a lot of the hill land.

Ian returned to the farm in 1987, and through buying and leasing land and quota, the farm and facilities have steadily expanded. In 2022, the Kingstons were milking 171 high-EBI cows off an 83ha milking platform.

The focus on this farm is to keep a simple system and do things to a high standard. The emphasis is on growing and utilising as much grass as possible and maintaining a low-cost base.

The breeding focus is on maintenance, fertility, health and milk solids. Ian has set a target for 5% fat and 4% protein. Ian has excellent milk quality with a low concentrate input of 6,144kg/cow.

Present milk protein is impressive at 3.75% and the herd EBI is 222, with replacements at 256. Ian recently won the Carbery milk quality award. Manual cleaning of the milking machine is carried out with hot water used four times per week at a temperature of 70OC, using Crysosan powder or Aseptopowder.

The same products are used in cold water for other days. Acid descale wash is carried out once weekly using warm water (400C).

Avalksan Gold is used for the bulk tank and acid descale used in every third wash.

The Kingston farm is a real family affair where Marie is responsible for calf feeding in spring and Dick and Kathleen also help with calves and washing up after milking.

Dylan is also involved with calf feeding and milking.

Tractor work

Ian also employs Con two to three days a week for tractor work and Anthony milking three to four times a week covers for holidays and time off.

Not an easy farm which contains a mix of hilly and better-quality land 500ft to 800ft above sea level. Ian is a member of Green Field Teagasc discussion group. He planted 250 metres of hedging last year and has six acres of undisturbed mountain land.