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