North Cork Creameries may be one of the smallest processors in the country but in James O’Riordan they have an able nominee. He operates with assistance from his father, Martin, an excellent farm in Kilbrin, Kanturk, Co Cork, and they are the third generation of dairy farmers on this land.

With a herd of 180 cows, they have transformed the farm into a thriving enterprise. James, along with his wife Bríd and their four children Lucy, Emily, Ellen, and Oliver, represents all that is unique about the Irish family farm model that sets Irish dairy farmers apart from our competitors in the global marketplace.

With a background in civil and environmental engineering, James initially pursued other career paths before realising his deep passion for the family farm and returned home in 2012 when the herd consisted of just 70 cows.

Over the years, he has expanded the milking platform to 120 acres and embraced innovation to enhance the farm’s efficiency.

James is a strong advocate for the ICBF Gene Ireland bull programme and is extremely knowledgeable on all aspects of dairy genetics. The herd EBI is 197 and with a replacement stock EBI of 243.

To gain good-quality information on the performance of his cows, milk recording is conducted seven times a year. Any cows with high somatic cell counts (SCC), or suspected infections, undergo the California Mastitis Test (CMT) to pinpoint infected quarters, which are then treated. Fifty two per cent of the herd receive sealants only at drying off, highlighting James’s commitment to sustainable practices and addressing consumer concerns about the over use of antibiotics.

James embraces modern technology, and has sensor collars on the cows with an aerial system on the parlour roof which effectively detects cows in heat and automatically drafts them after milking.

He diligently monitors the performance metrics of both the herd and individual cows, allowing him to make informed decisions for optimal results.

One of James’s quotes on the day was that ‘you have to trust the science’ and another great quote was ‘keep it simple stupid’.

His farm also boasts an exceptional soil nutrient management plan, ensuring the utmost utilisation of grass and has involved himself in Grass 10 courses.

Twenty per cent of the grazing platform has clover incorporated and James is trialling multispecies. The farm has a good carbon footprint of 0.78.

James prioritises the health and welfare of his livestock, utilising all available vaccines to prevent diseases.

Additionally, he ensures equal treatment for male and female calves, emphasising calf health and welfare as a paramount concern.

He has an excellent milking routine and he installed a heat recovery system in 2019 and solar panels in 2020. An automatic machine wash is used.

Hot water with a temperature of 75OC is used every morning and cold water is used with the detergent (Avalksan Gold CF) in the evening. The water is heated with the help of the heat recovery unit.

A descale (Aval Platinum) wash is carried out once per week. Superbrite -100 is used for cleaning the bulk tank.

He is very conscious that as a farmer he is a custodian of the environment and intends to leave the farm and it’s ecosystem in an improved condition when the time comes to pass it on to the next generation.

With James’ relentless dedication to implementing cutting-edge techniques and his commitment to sustainable and efficient farming practices, it is no surprise that the North Cork Creameries nominated James for this competition.