Alan & Kathleen French

Derryduff, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork
After graduating from Clonakilty Agriculture college, I became the fourth generation of my family to farm at Derryduff, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.
My wife Kathleen and I have a dairy herd and calf to beef enterprise on the farm. We farm Herefords and keep half the calves for our beef enterprise, while selling the other half to Kathleen’s brother.
I firmly believe that the docile Herefords are a great option for farmers, they calve easily and are calm to handle, they put on weight well and are easy to finish. I rarely ever have a problem with a Hereford during calving.
I finish my heifers at 21/22 months and my steers at 24/26 months of age. I use Hereford AI for breeding and have used Kentucky Kidd and GPZ in the past. The cattle on the farm are kept in a paddock grazing system which is ideal for ensuring that they get the best quality grass possible. In the winter we house them in slatted sheds with rubber mats. We believe in only feeding the best silage possible and we test the crop before cutting to ensure optimal timing for to make the best possible quality silage. This silage is tested again in the Autumn ahead of feeding, to ensure good fermentation occurred.

On this farm we soil sample every five years and spread lime according to the sample results. I am finding the nitrates rules and the new regulations in general difficult to implement and they are a big challenge on the farm, but I plan to make some adjustments to adhere to these new regulations.

As a family we grow our own vegetables on the land, so we know all about the importance of good quality soil. Crops of cabbage, red cabbage, peas, strawberries, and beetroot are grown in the fields alongside broccoli, onion, turnip, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips. Kathleen freezes any excess fruit and vegetables so as to have access to them all year round. We also have a polytunnel where we grow tomatoes, lettuce, sweetcorn and peppers and have apple trees, rhubarb and blackcurrant bushes.

Kathleen is looking forward to growing garlic, leeks, marrow and squash this year so the family will be fully self-sufficient when it comes to vegetables.

“I have never had a problem with a Hereford during calving.”

Our daughters help out with the animals on the farm and will be the fifth generation of the family to farm at Derryduff if they so decide when they are old enough to take over. Farming can be a tough life, especially when it comes to taking time off, as it is difficult to find anyone who is willing to take on the responsibility of running the farm in your absence. Spending time with family is very important to both of us, which is why we are both very happy that our daughters show such a keen interest.

“Herefords fit in very well with our current system, which allows the whole family to be involved working on the farm and with the animals.”