I farm: “Two hundred ewes and 16 cows on 300ac of rented mountain and 10ac of my own land. The cattle eat what the sheep don’t, in tandem. We don’t spray the hill but use a quad and tractor mulcher to go through the rushes and the bits of bracken.”

The sheep and cattle graze in "tandem" on the hill, says McDonagh.

Sheep: “The ewes are Mayo Mountain with a touch of Lanark and a few Hilltex coming along as well. I’ve taken the rams out now and the ewes are back up to the hill. They’ll lamb from 17 March. I try to lamb that early as the vixen will still be in the den. I put some bells on the ewes too and that helps keep her at bay. I run crossbred Chartex and Sufftex rams as the purebreds would be too soft. I have trouble with ticks and the red water and blood poisoning they can cause so I have to keep all my own breeding. We have 30 nice ewe lambs coming along this year. Everything is outwintered and the ewes just get a few nuts before lambing.”

McDonagh says he feeds sheep meal close to lambing only.

Cattle: “The cows calve all year round, with the main burst in December and January. They’re mostly pedigree Shorthorns and I run a Shorthorn stock bull. It’s my first year now breeding the pedigree calves. They’re no giants but they’re shapely and they have the colour as well.”

McDonagh runs a herd of pedigree shorthorn cows alongside his sheep.

ACRES: “I was looking at ACRES but since the land I have is rented, you can’t really ask the owners can you go planting trees and hedges. The scheme is a good idea and we all have to do our bit for the environment, but a lot of lads can’t buy land here so it’s not suitable for them.”

Macra: “I’m part of my local Macra club and we saw a jump in interest since the pandemic. Macra is great because you’re meeting people from all backgrounds. You don’t have to be from a farming family.”

Mike McDonagh says Macra is a great way of getting to know people in rural Galway.

Quotable quote: “The money is in the sheep if you’ve the right facilities and system. But you need the cattle as well for that balance on the hill.”