Cream of the crop
Article appeared in issue 6, 2022
The National Dairy Council (NDC) and Ornua recently announced the results of the prestigious NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards, with 13 families recognised for their excellence in dairy farming
The Connelly family, from Tuam, Co. Galway – supplying the Aurivo Co-Op – was announced as the overall winner of the awards, which celebrate the highest standards of excellence in dairy farming in Ireland. Austin and Yvonne Connelly, along with their four daughters Ava, Anna, Jane and Kate were awarded the coveted NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual cup for excelling in all areas of the judging criteria, including milk quality, animal welfare and sustainable farming practices.
All 13 finalists underwent a robust and detailed independent assessment by an expert judging panel including Professor Pat Wall Professor of Public Health at UCD, Dr David Gleeson Research Officer Livestock Systems at Teagasc, and Dr Jack Kennedy, Deputy Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal.
For the first time in 2022, specific category awards were presented to finalists, acknowledging excellence in milk quality, sustainable practices – including care for the environment and on-farm animal welfare – as well as technical knowledge and management of facilities.
Speaking about the awards, John Jordan, CEO of Ornua, commented: “2022 marks a significant milestone for Ornua as we head into the 60th anniversary of Kerrygold – a brand that is produced using the best quality milk in the world. The success of Kerrygold could not be achieved without the passion and commitment of farming families like the Connellys, who uphold the world class standards of sustainable dairy farming that Kerrygold and Irish dairy products as a whole are renowned for. I would like to thank all the finalists for the continued hard work and dedication they put into their farms every single day to create the quality milk that is revered around the world.”
Zoë Kavanagh, CEO National Dairy Council, added: “There has never been a more important time to celebrate excellence in dairy farming and highlight the hard work and dedication of some of Ireland’s top dairy food producers. Our climate and land produces dairy with one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally, primarily due to the unique Irish grass-fed, family-farmed system which is extremely efficient and involves less intensive farming. During challenging times people need to have trust in what they know, dairy is nutritious, accessible and affordable and is recognised as a vital part of people’s diet and general health across the life stages, indispensable to Ireland’s social and economic wellbeing.”
Concluding, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Charlie McConalogue said: “Greatness recognises greatness so it is a tremendous honour for all those farm families who have been nominated for the prestigious 2022 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. My sincere congratulations to the Connelly family as well as the rest of the nominees. To be recognised by your own peers and your own co-operative in the first instance is a tremendous honour. The success achieved by winners and nominees comes from a lifetime of dedication to dairy farming excellence and constant improvement. On behalf of the industry, I thank all the nominees and winners for what they have achieved.”
Austin and Yvonne Connelly farm with their four daughters, Ava, Anna, Jane and Kate, in Tuam, Co. Galway. Fifth-generation farmers, they are relatively new to dairy farming having made the transition just four years ago. Converting to dairy farming had its challenges, requiring a lot of patience and control, and would not have been possible without the support and expertise of their milk advisor, local discussion groups and peer farmers. The epitome of modern farming, the four girls are constantly seeking out ways to make the processes on the farm even more efficient and effective. The Connelly’s took the title of Overall Winner as well as category award winner for Lowest Somatic Cell Count award.