The Coleman farm in Carrigeen, Butlerstown, Bandon, Co Cork, is an award-winning dairy farm that truly embodies the essence of the Irish family farm model. Operated by Michael, a fourth-generation farmer, along with his wife Majella and their children Louise, James, and Cian, this farm is a prime example of dedication and passion in the agricultural industry.

Michael is actively involved in various community activities and he serves as the treasurer of the Barryroe GAA club, coaches the girls’ under-16 camogie team, and coaches the boys’ under-12 hurling and football teams.

Additionally, he plays a significant role in organising the local Barryroe agriculture show held at the GAA grounds every July. Majella, on the other hand, manages a full-time taxi service to ensure the transportation needs of the GAA training and matches are met.

Notwithstanding his busy off farm schedule, Michael manages with the help of his father, Chris, to milk their herd of 140 cows. Chris is an avid road bowls fan and enjoys going to GAA matches and horse racing.

Milking commences promptly at 6.30am and 4.45pm, with the entire process completed by 6.15 pm. The farm adopts strict calving blocks in September-October and January/February/March.

Michael’s commitment to productivity is evident in the farm’s use of sexed dairy semen (100% of dairy semen is sexed), highlighting their focus on overall herd quality.

Moreover, they proactively address high cell count cows, identified through regular milk recording conducted ten times a year. By employing the California Mastitis Test (CMT), they identify any infected quarters and administer dry cow therapy only to those infected.

In 2022, a remarkable achievement was made, wherein only 21 quarters from the 140 cows required dry cow tubes, while the rest received sealants only.

Every summer, three heifers are trained to halter and the children compete in the young handlers classes at the local shows. All three are enthusiastic about farming and maybe this is a consequence of their father and grandfather’s ability to demonstrate that farming is compatible with a good work-life balance.

The Coleman farm strongly emphasises environmental conservation and takes considerable measures to maintain the ecosystem. One hundred metres of whitethorn hedge were planted around the cow shed and 50 trees received from Carbery. The farm also has two hectares of marsh lands.

There is a big emphasis on milk hygiene (average TBC 4,000). An automatic machine wash is used, with hot water at a temperature of 75OC used after every evening milking (800ml in 160 litres) and cold wash every morning.

The detergent used for the machine is CIP and the descaler used is Superclean. The descaler is used three times per week (1.2l in 160 litres water). O-san (900ml) is used for the bulk milk tank with acid descaler used after every third collection.

Chemicals used are in clear drums. It comes as no surprise that the Coleman farm is a key producer of milk for Five Farms Irish Cream Liquor—a product that is continuously gaining market share in the US.