Kildare farmer Richard Milligan has scooped the prestigious Hereford Prime farmer of the year award.
Based near Robertstown, Richard farms in partnership with his father Henry, where the family have been farming since the 1930s.
Primarily a beef farmer with some tillage on roughly 150ac split into two blocks, Richard is a busy full-time farmer with a young family in tow he hopes will one day be able to carry on the farming tradition.
He runs two Hereford stock bulls in their 40-cow herd and operates a suckler spring-calving system.
Richard says that the “the ease of handling and finishing of Hereford cattle, combined with the ease of calving and the high level of calf vigour at birth, are proving to be very positive for our farm”.
Calf to beef system
Richard also operates a Hereford-cross calf-to-beef system on the farm and has an established relationship with a number of dairy farmers from whom he sources calves to minimise disease risk.
The farm’s proximity to Kepak Clonee is helpful and the aim is to finish HEX steers at 20 months and heifers at between 18 and 24 months, with animals largely grass-fed and given small levels of concentrates 60 days before slaughter.
When winter comes, animals have access to straw-bedded areas, which Richard feels helps performance, plus they out-winter some weanlings on winter forage crops.
Richard’s grassland management has helped his animals' ability to thrive, with many of them grading R- or better – even at relatively young ages.
He feels his factory returns are consistent and coupled with the Hereford Prime bonus on qualifying cattle believes it is why the Hereford breed and Hereford bull has such a strong potential on suckler farmers.