Robert Lally is a 24-year-old full-time beef farmer, based outside Claremorris, Co. Mayo. He farms alongside his grandfather Tommy Higgins and farm manager Declan Morley.

Agriland paid a visit to the farm for this week’s Beef Focus to find out more about the 400ac beef enterprise.

Robert is well known in Macra na Feirme circles and is the chairperson of Mayo Macra. More recently, he was elected as a Macra National Council Representative (NCR).

Speaking to Agriland, Robert explained that it was his grandfather who inspired his passion for farming.

He said: “My grandfather brought me along to marts when I was younger and I started getting involved in the farm. Then, with my communion money I bought two red-Hereford heifers and it all spiraled from there.”

Robert completed his green cert at Mountbellew Agricultural College and then went on to study Dairy Herd Management, also at Mountbellew.

He admitted that dairy farming was something that was considered for the farm but the decision was made to continue with the beef enterprise.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Robert said.

He then went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in Agri-business at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and when he graduated, he made the decision to go farming full-time.

The farm

The enterprise encompasses 400ac of fragmented land and generally, 350-400 head of beef cattle are kept on the farm during the grazing season. Approximately 300, predominantly Angus heifers are wintered on the farm every year.

Winter housing facilities:

“We like to buy anything that’s Angus. We used to be predominantly heifers now we have started to diversify and we keep a few bullocks on the farm as well,” said Robert.

“As long as it’s Angus, that’s what we want. We like to buy heifers between 250kg and 400kg. We were finishing Angus heifers before it was fashionable.”

Robert admitted that the increasing factory bonuses for in-spec Angus heifers and steers has made it more difficult to source heavier-type Angus heifers.

“This year, we are getting a lot of heifers bought around the 350kg mark,” he said.

All cattle are brought to finish on the farm and are sent to a Mayo-based processor.

Currently, a batch of heifers are being finished at grass on one of the out-farms.

Out-farm facilities:

No cattle are out-wintered and Robert outlined: “Everything is wintered indoors here and fed silage and straw with a diet feeder.”

Meal is fed separately to cattle during herding every day and Robert believes this is easier to identify animals in the shed that may need attention.

Robert’s love of Angus cattle is one which he believes he inherited from his grandfather.

“The black-polly [Angus] cattle have a great temperament. It’s great how quick they finish and how quick they respond to meal at the finish,” he said.


Robert admitted that his role in Macra is a time-consuming job but said he doesn’t know where he would be without Macra.

“Farming can be a very isolated job at times as anyone reading this will well know, and it’s important to have a social aspect to life. There is a lot more to life than farming,” he said.

“All farmers are going through the same issues and are dealing with price increases and the everyday doom and gloom.

“Macra offers farmers a community where young, rural people can stand with each other and remember they’re not alone.”

“What you put into Macra is what you will get out of it,” he said

His time with Macra has taken him all across Ireland and to other European countries to see how young farmers progress, he added.

Robert is very vocal on issues affecting young farmers and constructively channels his enthusiasm into Macra na Feirme.

Future plans

Robert hopes to continue farming into the future, but is keeping an open mind to diversifying his farming strategy.

He believes there is an opportunity for agri-tourism in the region to show people from other regions and countries how beef is produced from grass in Ireland.

“I believe it is becoming more important to show people how their food is produced. In Ireland, we have a great story to tell on how beef is produced in this country,” he said.