Laois dairy farmer Paul Hyland has removed no hedges on his farm, has all waterways on the farm fenced off and is very proud of what he does on his family farm.

When asked about dairy expansion, the charge focused against the sector in terms of environment, on RTÉ’s Countrywide on Saturday morning, Hyland said: “Here we have boundaries, we have all our waterways fenced off. We have removed no hedges here, all out hedges are maintained every year, and they’re looked after.

“The beauty of hedgerows here [is] they’re a corridor of wildlife. Wildlife can travel immeasurable distances in any county, in any parish, in any townlands because of hedgerows. We would do some planting ourselves every year. We like doing that. We’re very proud of what we do and we’re very proud of the way we do it.

“The control of farmyard pollution – that wasn’t an issue 30 years ago, where today it’s a very real issue. You take the younger generation of farmers coming along. They do not want to be the one who’s found to be polluting and if you are polluting you will be found to be polluting,” he said.

Hyland said it is the job of farmers to ensure that the countryside goes to the next generation in as good and hopefully a better condition than it is in today.

“There is no doubt we have made mistakes, but there are new technologies here. For instance, we do a lot of soil sampling here, we’ve a nutrient management plan, the latest development is protected urea,” he said.

Bull calves

Calving is in full swing on Hyland’s farm. He said he doesn’t finish the bull calves on the farm, but has customers who are in beef and buy them from him.

“That’s where they’re destined to go,” he said. In terms of any welfare issues on farms, Hyland said all he has heard is rumour.

Every lamb, every calf, every animal matters here, every dog, cat

“What I would say is if any person is aware of any welfare issues on any farm, they should report it. It’s as simple as that.

“We have very robust rules and laws in the EU and Ireland. We’ve a very efficient Department of Agriculture who will act on it and I’m sure they’d like to hear about it.

“We’ve been taught, from the very beginning … we had sheep here one time, every lamb, every calf, every animal matters here, every dog, cat. They all matter and we’ve been taught that. I think it’s in our DNA to realise that as a farmer myself. And I don’t know of any farmers that would condone or be happy with abuse that would happen on a farm.

“We’re using the word abuse a lot and we keep using that word because other people are using it. Sometimes it’s a handy throwaway for people with agendas who maybe have something else to say and probably aren’t courageous enough to say it,” he said.

Sexed semen

Hyland said that increased uptake of sexed semen has a way to go in Ireland.

“We don’t have a lab on the island for a start and I think that would be the first for a start. If we’re going to take this seriously we need to fund a lab. It’s not a cheap technology, however it does work.

“Now we on the farm here, we’re involved in a couple of trials. Didn’t work so well here but I know people who are using it and are very successful at it. But it doesn’t take away – you’ve all these heifers born in February and that means that every calf in March and April is going to be for sale.

“I think a lot of it is to do with the sheer amount of numbers that are arriving on the ground at the same time. A little bit of patience maybe, be prepared to keep the calf a bit longer.

“The real crunch time is the kind of middle two weeks in March that’s when all the calves come and people are under pressure and I think we need to have a little think about that end of it,” he said.

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