Kerry – the home of McDonald’s first Irish flagship dairy farm

Eoghan McCarthy, Milltown, Co.Kerry

McDonald’s has announced that it has partnered with Kerry Group to select a new dairy Flagship Farm, located in Milltown, Co. Kerry, to highlight best practice sustainable milk production within McDonald’s international supply chain.

The dairy farm, which is farmed by Eoghan McCarthy, is the first dairy Flagship Farm to be selected by McDonald’s for the Irish market and was chosen because of its best-in-class approach to sustainable primary milk production, while maintaining high animal welfare standards and improving the surrounding natural environment.

McDonald’s Flagship Farms initiative showcases best-in-class suppliers from all over Europe. The McCarthy’s dairy farm was chosen to become a Flagship Farm, following a robust selection process, because of the high quality milk that is produced from grazed grass on the farm and the overall approach to sustainable milk production.

Eoghan McCarthy’s Farm at Callinafercy West, Milltown, Co. Kerry has been in the McCarthy family for three generations. After finishing agricultural college in 1996 Eoghan rented the farm adjacent to his father’s farm and started his own business rearing dry stock. In 2001, Eoghan took over the family farm of 51ha, and has also continued to rent the adjacent farm of 24ha. The McCarthys’ current herd consists of 96 cows (70% Holstein/30% British Friesian genetics).

The milk from Eoghan’s farm is used in the production of milk protein in the Kerry Group plant in Listowel. The milk protein is then transported to a Kerry Group plant in Coleraine where the cheese slices are produced for McDonalds. The milk protein is a key functional ingredient in cheese slices.

Other key reasons for his selection by McDonald’s include the long grass-growing season and low-input system which are central to the farm’s economic viability and sustainability credentials. There is also a keen focus on cow health and welfare with a comprehensive vaccination policy and good disease control measures which reduce animal health challenges. In addition, there is strong environmental stewardship with several initiatives being undertaken to help maintain and enhance local biodiversity.

Speaking about his selection Eoghan said: “The main focus of my farming business is to make a good living from running the family farm. I need to do this as efficiently as possible whilst protecting and enhancing the welfare of the cows and respecting the natural environment. The focus is to grow high quality pastures which the cows have good access to, therefore enabling them to produce as much milk as possible from grass. It is great that McDonald’s recognises the importance of sustainable primary milk production. I am very pleased to have been selected for inclusion in the Flagship Farm Programme.”

McDonald’s also announced that it grew its exports of Irish dairy products, which includes milk, cheese and butter to €88 million in 2013, up from €74 million in 2012. McDonald’s purchased a total of €4 million worth of Irish dairy produce in 2013 for consumption in its restaurants on the island of Ireland.