The farm: “We keep 16,500 free-range hens and 70 pedigree Holsteins on 200ac just outside Kenagh in Co Longford.”

Hens: “We began producing free-range eggs in 1998 with a flock of 3,000 hens. Bit by bit, we have expanded the business and now have our own brand of eggs “O’Hallerans Family Farm”, which we sell directly to the consumer.”

Retail benefit: “In order to establish our own brand we had to build a packing centre in line with Department specifications. The investment was well worth it, as we can hold on to most of the retail price for the eggs sold under our name.”

O’Halleran Family Farm free-range eggs. \ Claire Nash

Bird flu: “With the Department of Agriculture’s housing order firmly in place, all of our birds are now indoors full-time. It’s for the best, if the disease were to enter a flock it would lead to a total and unavoidable cull of all birds.”

Costs: “Having the birds indoors all the time drives up our costs by approximately 10%. The birds are eating more meal out of boredom and as a result are laying bigger eggs. This can lead to a shortening of the productive life of the birds.”

The O’Hallerans keep 70 pedigree Holsteins on their farm just outside Kenagh in Co Longford. \ Claire Nash

Time management: “In January 2020, we made the switch from sucklers and sheep to dairy farming. We kept 180 ewes, 30 sucklers and 85 calves for beef. We never had a quiet time. There was always pressure on.”

Dairy: “We calve all year round which means no particular time of year is overly busy and we have a constant milk supply. We have one Lely robot and finish all the bull calves on the farm ourselves.”

Zero grazing: “Our land is quite dispersed so we decided to run a fully indoor system. It works well with zero grazing during the dry months and silage is fed thereafter.”

Shirley and Derek O'Halleran with their children Rebecca and Keith. \ Claire Nash

Helping hands: “Our two children Rebecca (21) and Keith (19) are both in college and help out in the mornings and evenings. With classes now all online, it’s great to have their help around the farm.”

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