Video: Ear to the Ground focuses on dairy bull calves and hill farming

On this weeks Ear to the Ground, Darragh McCullough looks at the use of sexed semen to limit dairy bull calf numbers.

Ella McSweeney visits a new hill farming organisation and Helen Carroll takes a step back in time.

This week’s episode returns to Darragh McCullough’s farm in Co. Meath to give an insight into the manic month of February, as there are 500 cows due to calve down.

McCullough, who is farming in a dairy partnership with Joe Leonard, takes a look back to June when the cows were bred, and asks could sexed semen be a solution to unwanted bull calves?

Leonard also examines the costs associated with bull calves and he explains that the Jersey bull calves are a loss maker.

Also on tonight’s Ear to the Ground – Ella McSweeney reports from Galway on a new farm organisation that is determined to keep family farming sustainable on the hills.

Hill farmers are feeling the pressure from reduced supports and small farm size and she questions should they be paid for environmental goods and would the tourism suffer if farmers left the hills to nature?

She takes at look a how the management of the hills and mountains is important for species like the Red Grouse and the Hen Harrier.

McSweeney also speaks to Colm O’Donnell, a hill farmer from Co. Sligo who will discuss how hill farming is part of Irish tradition and heritage.

With the year that’s in it, Ear to the Ground looks back on food and farming in 1916, making interesting parallels between the food that was eaten then, and the super-foods we’re having today.

Pig’s head is on the menu prepared by chef, Anne Neary and Helen Carroll visits the Irish Agriculture Museum at Johnstown Castle in Co. Wexford to find out more.

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