John, Olivia and the MacNamara family are farming near Hospital in Limerick. John started in partnership with his father when he was just 20 years old and believes that involvement in discussion groups was a huge help to him in the early stages of his farming career.

The MacNamaras were part of the Kerry Monitor Farm Programme in 1995-96 and John is still actively involved in the DairyMis discussion group and is also part of PastureBase Ireland and the Clover150 programme.

John has won previous awards for farmyard of the year 2009 and grassland farmer of year in 2018.

The farm has grown steadily over the last 30 years and in 2022 the MacNamaras were milking 245 cows.

There is a real team effort on this farm and along with family help, John recruits extra help from students throughout the year.

Investment in infrastructure has been a priority to improve efficiencies with impressive roadways, use of bridges and underpasses to improve cow flow.

John and the crew are very engaged in research developments and are willing to try out new technologies for improved sustainability.

There is very good clover establishment on the farm. All nitrogen is spread as protected urea and they recently sowed 4ha of multispecies to try it out and continue to reduce nitrogen use on the farm.

This farm grows a lot of grass (14t DM) and soil fertility and grassland management are key to this.

There is a very high standard on the farm facilities and hygiene.

There is a very good milking machine wash routine that includes hot water at 80 degrees twice a day and an descale wash twice weekly, and Peracetic acid is used after every wash.

There is excellent milk protein of 3.78% and a herd EBI of 199.

Bridging the growing divide between primary production and the consumer is something they are very passionate about.

The MacNamara family from Hospital in Co Limerick are representing Kerry Agribusiness. From left: Padraic, Ailbhe, Olivia, Conor, John and Caoimhe Macnamara with farm management student Cathal O’Brien from Drombanna in Limerick.

There is a classroom overlooking the milking parlour and John and Olivia regularly take in groups of school children, farming and non-farming groups to educate them about Irish dairy and bust some of the myths about dairy.

This farm highlights what can be achieved with a larger herd size and that expansion does not necessarily mean a drop in standards of performance or management.