Cork farmer continues family tradition by securing milk quality award

A dairy farmer in Co. Cork has continued a family tradition by winning Dairygold’s overall Milk Quality Award for 2017.

Kevin Downing from Whitechurch, Co. Cork – along with his wife, Bernie – received the award at a presentation ceremony in the Springfort Hall Hotel in Mallow on Thursday night (May 24) for consistently supplying the best quality milk to Dairygold throughout last year.

This comes eight years after Kevin’s late father Michael – who sadly passed away three years ago – won the same award in 2010.

Earlier that night, the Downings had been awarded the overall award for the east Cork region.

Their farm is located a few miles north of Cork city. Kevin, Bernie and farm manager Tom Carr produce liquid and manufacturing milk from 160 pedigree Holstein Friesian cows; they also sell dairy stock and beef cattle, as well as growing cereals.

With all 18 finalists demonstrating exceptional quality, the judges declared that the Downing farm was an excellent example of what good management and high standards of production can achieve.

Cows on the farm were producing over 560kgs of solids at 4.3% fat and over 3.6% protein, alongside a low average Somatic Cell Count (SCC).

Accepting the award, Kevin explained that it was a very proud achievement and wonderful to receive the recognition from Dairygold.

The standards of all the finalists was mind-blowing. It’s also naturally a sentimental achievement for us, as my father won the award eight years ago.

“He had a very strong ethos for quality and was an absolute perfectionist; I’m proud that we have been able to continue that tradition and to maintain those same high standards in every aspect of our on-farm operations,” he said.

‘Deserving winners’

Commending Kevin and his team for their efforts, Dairygold chairman John O’Gorman said: “Kevin and Tom operate an excellent farm with very well-kept facilities and they have a keen awareness of the importance of hygiene, safety and sustainability.

“The Downings are very deserving winners and we wish them every success for the future.”

Continuing, he added: “As a dairy processor, Dairygold is constantly emphasising the importance of milk quality and to me what better way to reinforce the message than by recognising and rewarding best performance and practice across our supplier base.

“Our Milk Quality Awards are a very special night where our producers are at the heart of the occasion and celebrated for their achievements.

The ethos of continuous improvement that we strive to instil within the organisation is very much evident across our milk supply base – which is reflected in the €4.3 million in quality bonus payments to milk suppliers through the balanced scorecard last year.

2,900 Dairygold milk suppliers

The awards were based on 2017 milk quality data from all of Dairygold’s 2,900 milk suppliers located across counties Cork, Tipperary, Limerick and Clare.

A shortlist was drawn up of three suppliers from each of the six Dairygold regions, including: Limerick; east Cork; Mallow; mid Cork; Mitchelstown; and Tipperary.

These 18 finalists underwent adjudication by two independent judges – Dr. Karina Pierce, University College Dublin (UCD), and Don Crowley, Teagasc dairy specialist.

The review takes account of: milk quality; dairy facilities; herd health and welfare; sustainability and general efficiencies; as well as farm health and safety.

The judges chose six regional winners and the overall winner was announced on the night. The overall runners-up were Thomas Horan from Cashel, Co. Tipperary, and Timothy Roche from Dripsey, Co. Cork.