David Faughnan, like most farmers in Leitrim, is a part-time farmer. He juggles breeding pedigree Aberdeen Angus and Simmentals alongside his commercial herd as well as being recently appointed the new mart manager in Aurivo Mart, Ballymote, Co Sligo.
David is currently farming up 40ac of what can be described as tough land, with heavy soils leading to long winters and short summers for cattle grazing. He has 20 suckler cows, which include some pedigrees.
“Farming in Leitrim is difficult, but we make it work because we love it,” David says.
“I try to stick to Angus for efficiency and maybe Simmental crosses as well along with some pedigrees.”
David likes the Angus: “They’re a low-maintenance breed that don’t take much feeding to get into show or sale shape which is ideal when you are working on tough ground.
“You just don’t have the same concentrates bill compared to breeding pedigree Charolais or Limousins.”
He uses Simmental genetics as he reckons they have the same weight gain as the Charolais but you never have to worry about milk.
The Faughnan family are well known across the country for breeding and showing top-quality cattle, attending all local shows for a couple of generations now.
David himself took part in shows from a young age: “The first event I really remember was taking part in the young handler’s class at Mohill Show in 1988. I was only five at the time.”
Traditionally, the Faughnan family showed Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn, with David and his brothers then veering towards the commercial side. Angus is the firm favourite, with David continually drawn back to their suitability for the west of Ireland.
“I miss the shows. I think everybody that is involved in shows does. We have always shown, whether you won or lost it made no difference, it’s just for the love of it.”
“COVID-19 has left us with a strange time with no shows for a year and a huge possibility of 2021 having no shows either.
“You’d miss the craic and meeting people from all over the country that we only see at show days or at the show dance that night.”
David set out on his current career in 2012, when he enrolled in the Aurivo trainee manager programme. This was a programme where he spent two years learning to become a manager within the Aurivo company, which comprises of agri stores, marts and creameries.
After finishing this programme, he was appointed store manager in the Aurivo store in Riverstown, Co Sligo, where he stayed until 2020.
When the opportunity came up to manage Ballymote Mart, he snapped it up, taking over the role in October 2020.
“I love the mart, there great is satisfaction when you see a farmer going home happy. I think I joined the mart at as good time as ever, as the spring trade has never been as strong,” David says.
The mart is very important to the locality
“Ballymote Mart hit record prices this spring for breeding heifers, with a top heifer prices of over €3,000 paid for a few heifers at some of the special breeding sales. The mart is very important to the locality and Ballymote is the only mart in Sligo. The farmers need it and they are extremely loyal to it.
“I am in the mart most days whether it is a sale day or not. A lot goes on in the mart such as washing, exporting and various other jobs.
“Safety in our mart is paramount and it takes a lot of work to keep the standard high,” David says.
“When it’s a good trade, there is a buzz around a mart like no other place in Ireland, every mart is the same.”
We have a large number of buyers still using online bidding, as it gives them time to go home and not spend the day in the mart
David tells us how glad he was to welcome buyers back ringside in the mart in recent weeks, with the hope that restrictions slacken more as we come back into the autumn: “I think we have turned a corner in recent weeks. The use of online bidding is still going to be huge in the coming years with it making life so much simpler for part-time farmers like myself to see their cattle being sold, especially during weekday sales.
“We have a large number of buyers still using online bidding, as it gives them time to go home and not spend the day in the mart and also attend multiple marts on the same day.”
David hopes to continue to keep Ballymote Mart flying high in the next few years, while continuing his passion for farming, growing his pedigree herds and “training his son in”.
“I would love for my son to grow up and enjoy farming as much as I do. I’d hope to continue showing as we have done for generations now and hopefully pick up a few championship rosettes and sashes in the future.”
David sees a good future for the Aberdeen Angus breed and he aims to breed the right type of bulls for both the suckler and dairy farmer in the future.