Irish Hereford Prime farmers are united by the care they show their animals and their commitment to safeguarding the environment for future generations. Working on small to medium-sized family farms, they provide Hereford cattle with the ideal conditions to naturally produce world-class beef. Keeping Hereford cattle is a clear signal that a farm is dedicated to quality, sustainability and care.
Farmer-led and member-owned, Irish Hereford Prime was established in 1997 to market Hereford beef as a premium brand synonymous with quality and sustainability. Today, it is Europe’s largest and oldest Hereford producer group with 5,000 members across Ireland.
By maturing early and spending more time grazing outdoors, Herefords have a reduced carbon footprint. Farming in a way that respects the animals and their surroundings, Hereford farmers are protecting this remarkable breed’s future along with the farms that are so essential to its success.
Certified Irish Hereford Prime beef gives consumers complete confidence that a strict set of certification regulations have been followed.
My father and uncle bought this farm in Ballinspittle, Co Cork in 1959. The farm was mostly tillage for the first 20 years, but they also ran a calf to beef system. I helped out on the farm when I was young, and when I left school, I studied at Clonakilty Agriculture College.
I inherited my uncle’s farm in the mid 1990s and also took over the running of my parents’ farm and started farming full time. I keep sheep as well as cattle and currently have 120 ewes. Our herd is mostly steers, with about 20% heifers. Our calves are fed whole milk and are put out to grass as early as possible; I operate a paddock grazing system so that the herd are always on new grass. In the winter I rely on quality silage, we aim for silage with a Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) of over 70%. We finish our heifers at 18 to 20 months and our steers at around 2 years of age.
“Early turnout is key to good performance from grass and then keep them going with fresh grass always”
Our farm is in the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) for the past 5 years, so we are required to complete a nutrient management plan and frequently take soil samples. We also undertake environmental protection measures such as planting wild bird cover and establishing bird and bat boxes. Our farm has a wide selection of wildlife including pheasants, buzzards and many small native birds. We are very proud of our riparian zone on the farm, which is an area that provides a critical habitat for insects, amphibians and other wildlife. During high flows, such as spring run-off, riparian areas store water, releasing it to the stream during low flow periods. Riparian areas absorb and dissipate water energy during floods and other high-water situations.
“Like all dry stock farmers there is often some concern about the long-term income or its stability, but for now the farm has developed nicely and is producing well”
When not working I enjoy swimming with my family, my wife Bernadette and 5-year-old daughter Sibeal. We’re lucky to be so close to the sea, so we get out into the water as often as we can.
“Going down the fields near the river to see the Hereford cattle all relaxing especially in the evening time or early in the morning when checking the animals with the early morning sun shining on their backs, is hugely satisfying.”
We have a very scenic farm here in Bartlemy, near Fermoy in Co. Cork. I am a fulltime farmer (although I am semi-retired!). I breed Herefords and I also keep commercial Hereford cross cattle, which are progeny from continental cows crossed with a Hereford bull. Choosing the right bull is very important and I use a combination of stars/indexes and visual assessments to make sure I’m happy with my selection. I find that even when the Herefords are crossed with other breeds, the age for slaughter can still be significantly reduced, all of mine are slaughtered under 24 months.
I like to get the cattle out to the spring grass early and I run a paddock system to ensure the quality is maintained. I take soil samples every 3-4 years to monitor nutrient levels. I make silage early in the year for the winter, as it is a vital part of the overall system and making it with early spring grass ensures quality. I leave the cattle out as long as possible, but when I do bring them in, I am very careful not to overcrowd the sheds and I use straw bedding or rubber matting to ensure their comfort.
Herefords respond well to good quality fresh grass
Our farm has a mix of trees with ash, oak, and evergreens all over the property and most of our fields are surrounded by hedgerows which are great for the local wildlife.
My wife Lisa is a retired schoolteacher and my daughter followed in her footsteps and is currently a primary school teacher in our local school in Bartlemy. My son is finishing an arts degree in UCC, and he helps me on the farm when he is home. When I have spare time, I love to watch my kids play GAA, Trish still plays both football and camogie. I’m also still very interested in the showing of Herefords, especially Hereford bulls, it’s been a passion of mine for a long time, but at 64 I feel like I’m getting a bit too old to be in the ring myself.
I think the IHP bonuses are good for farmers and IHP has helped to develop a demand for Hereford beef over the years. I believe it would be great to get more information out there into the public about the importance of food origins and food production in general.
With both myself and my wife working here full time, our farm is a real family affair.
We are full time farmers from North Kildare. My family 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. We farm with the environment in mind, our hedges are cut in a three-year rotation, we have planted trees in low lying areas and plan to plant more trees, hedges and start an orchard. 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.
Tom Barry’s family farm is Baytown Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath. He is the third generation on the farm taking over from his late father, Thomas Barry in 2008 and keeps Hereford cross suckler cows as well as pedigree Hereford cows. Herefords are such a docile breed and as a part time farmer, with teenagers helping around the farm, it’s important to have a breed that’s easy to look after and handle. Tom’s farm is in the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) for the past 5 years, where frequently taking soil samples and the completion of a nutrient management plan are required.
Farming 145 acres in Killeagh, Co. Cork with a store to beef system. Ian and Leslie believe in using recycled farm nutrients to produce grass as efficiently as possible, sowing new grass, along with clovers in the seed mixture, to make production efficient and environmentally sound. Grass is the most cost effective and natural way to feed cattle, so it is vital to get it right. Turning their Herefords out as early as possible, usually before St Patrick’s Day to maximise the grazing season and leaving them out as long as the weather and the land allows.
The Corcoran family have been farming their land in Lower Graigue, Thurles, Co Tipperary from the 1700s. The house was built in the early 1800s and Lisa’s dad, who is 91 this year, has worked on the farm since he was a young boy. They have 160 acres in total and while they used to have both sheep and dairy, they now focus solely on beef animals. Being part of the Results-Based Environmental-Agri Pilot Project (REAP) is important to Lisa and her dad. REAP is an agri-environment pilot project that rewards farmers to maintain and improve the environmental conditions of their land.
Recently retired Sean Myers loves the satisfaction that farming brings, with docile animals thriving well at grass to produce a quality and yet sustainable beef product. Feeling fortunate to be able to enjoy farming more and take the time to watch the animals develop without having to rush. Moving from tillage and beef to solely beef in 2017, Sean farms with his son Eoin, having farmed with his own farmer from 1972, when his father bought the farm. Sean is very satisfied with the better performance of the Hereford cattle following the improvements to the structural layout of the farm that they have made over time.