The Irish Hereford Prime Farmer of the Year for 2021 has been awarded to a Co. Offaly-based farmer.
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L-R: Clement King, Riverstown, Co. Offaly - Irish Hereford Prime's Farmer of the year 2021 and ABP Nenagh's procurement officer Michael Cleary. Image source: Jeff Harvey

Clement King from Riverstown, Co. Offaly, took home the 2021 title, which was awarded by Irish Hereford Prime.

According to Irish Hereford Prime, Clement was chosen as Farmer of the Year “because of his excellent management of both his farm and his livestock”.

Presenting the award, Irish Hereford Prime’s procurement officer Michael Cleary said: “Clement is achieving an impressive weight for age with his cattle, and showcases best practice methods in bringing Herefords from farm to fork through excellent use of his grassland and on-farm management.”

Commenting on how he first began keeping Hereford cattle, Clement explained that his son purchased the first Hereford-cross calves on the farm with his Holy Communion money, and Clement felt they were making as much money as the suckler calves he was producing.

“I was sizing up the Hereford calves and realised they were doing just as good, if not better than mine,” Clement explained.

Farming with his wife, Deidre and two sons, Peter and Eoin, who are now in their teens, Clement has gradually pulled back from sucklers and has now focused his farm enterprise fully on a calf-to-beef system.

He buys calves once a year in spring and sources them from three dairy farmers. He believes a good relationship with the farmer you buy calves from “is vital”.

He finds that the vaccination program that covers areas such as pneumonia in calves is “key to knocking any future health problems on the head“.

Clement buys 75 Hereford-cross calves, both bulls and heifers, every year. The majority of these are sold as stores while approximately 20 of these are brought to finish.

He places a huge importance on early calf management which he feels is vital to ensuring the quality of a finished animal.

Finished animals on the farm are sent to ABP Nenagh and Clement said that the good working relationship established with procurement officer Michael Cleary, through Irish Hereford Prime and the team there has been “invaluable”.

“I’m finishing the heifers at 18 months, they’re killing out at roughly 280kg and usually grading O= or O+, which qualifies them for the Irish Hereford Prime bonus,” he said.

Family plays an important role on the farm, and even though both of Clement’s sons are involved in Offaly GAA they still find the time to help out, which is something he appreciates.

“I have an off-farm job with Liffey Mills and I come home in the evening and the lads would have the calves fed before heading off to hurling training. It’s great to see the interest that they have,” Clement remarked.

Looking to the future, Clement hopes to increase the number of animals he finishes each year.

Fonterra says the outlook for dairy is positive, and the co-operative has released an upbeat forecast for its full-year profit.

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