Norman Stanley and Trina Molony

Co. Kildare
With both myself and my wife working here full time, our farm is a real family affair.
Myself and my wife Trina are full time farmers from North Kildare. My family have been on this land and have worked this farm since the 1950s and we run it now as a dairy and beef enterprise.
We currently have a herd of dairy cows, commercial suckler cows, and two pedigree Hereford cows. The pedigree bulls born from our two Hereford cows are used mainly on the dairy herd, although we also use some on the suckler cows.
Typically, we use Friesian AI for the first six weeks of the breeding season with the dairy cows and then the Hereford bulls are put to work. However, this coming breeding season we plan on using Friesian sexed semen, to breed our dairy replacement heifers more efficiently. This will allow us to produce more Hereford cross beef animals from our dairy herd. We will continue to use a Hereford bull to serve the replacement Friesian heifers.

When selecting which Hereford bulls to use through AI, we don’t focus too much on the Dairy Beef Index, we tend to research the bloodlines and consult with our AI technician. We would usually use our own judgement of how the bull looks visually before making any final decision.

We find that Hereford animals are very easy to manage. Calving is usually straight -forward and calf vigour is a big plus, they get up and get on with sucking. They are a low input easy to finish breed with less concentrates needed to achieve a suitable level of fat cover. Our Hereford animals are all brought to finish on the farm, with steers at under 24 months and heifers between 16 and 19 months.

We currently have no winter crops on the farm, although we have had redstart and kale in certain fields in the past. We are selective about the fields we choose to plant forage crops in due to field soil type, field history, location and available shelter. We soil sample every three years and we manage the grass mainly through a paddock system.

Our milking parlour is being upgraded at the moment, we’re doubling up our milking units and we are really hoping that this will help us to save time in our working day. With three young children and a house to run, we’ve a lot going on, and that’s on top of the farm work every day.

We’d love our children to take over the farm in time, so we work hard to ensure that it is preserved properly for their future. We farm with the environment in mind, our hedges are cut in a three-year rotation, we have planted trees in low lying areas in the past and plan to plant more trees and hedges, and start an orchard in the future. These hedges provide shelter to our livestock on the farm while simultaneously providing habitats for many of the wildlife present here on the land. Our farm is home to buzzards, long eared owls, otters, pine martins, foxes, badgers, jays, egrets and even falcons. As can be seen from the photos these wild animals are quite private and keep their distance when in their natural habitat.

Herefords are very easy to manage, they calve easily, and they get up and get on with sucking

In terms of grassland management, we plan to incorporate even higher levels of clover into all seed mixtures for future reseeding. This will reduce our requirement for chemical fertiliser, which will reduce the cost of growing grass on our farm, while also growing grass in a more environmentally sustainable way.

We don’t have a lot of spare time, but when we do, we spend it out and about with the kids.

We love a family dinner and our favourite dish is roast rib on the bone, although we are partial to a rib eye steak too.