‘It’s a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence and it’s great to be recog­nised by your peers’

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARMER OF THE YEAR AWARDS -

AS well as win­ning the Beef Farmer of the Year award, 35-year-old John Phe­lan from Co Kilkenny, was also the win­ner in the Ex­cel­lence in Farm Safety Cat­e­gory.

“We in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture and han­dling fa­cil­i­ties ev­ery year,” says John who farms 148ac with his father Tim and brother Tadhg at Blanchville House, Dun­bell. His mother Mon­ica also runs a coun­try guest house and self-cater­ing busi­ness on the farm.

Fol­low­ing a tragic farm death in the parish sev­eral years ago, John’s aware­ness of farm safety was acutely height­ened. He fin­ishes 300 to 400 Con­ti­nen­tal beef heifers, mostly Li­mousin/ Charo­lais cross and he stresses the im­por­tance of an­i­mal han­dling when deal­ing with large num­bers.

“Ac­com­mo­dat­ing large num­bers of heavy stock places an em­pha­sis on health and safety,” he says. “We use f lip-over wa­ter troughs which are emp­tied from out­side the cat­tle pens and our crush fa­cil­i­ties in­clude good head gates and head scoops.”

John also high­lights the im­por­tance of a clean yard free from trip haz­ards. Farm groups vis­it­ing Blanchville are en­cour­aged to com­ment on safety is­sues in or­der to im­prove stan­dards. Guests from his mother’s busi­ness, who of­ten have no farm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, also like to visit the work­ing farm so it is vi­tal that there are no safety is­sues.

“Win­ning the awards has been a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence,” says John. “It is great to be recog­nised amongst peers and in the farm­ing in­dus­try in gen­eral.”

John’s phi­los­o­phy is to do the sim­ple things well. “We are a good team. Dad is a su­per coach who has laid down the foun­da­tions for me.”

Ja­son Byrne, (head of agri­cul­ture busi­ness un­der­writ­ing, Zurich) and Beef Farmer of the Year and Farm Safety win­ner John Phe­lan, Kilkenny

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