John and Catherine Power’s farm is located in Co. Waterford, Ireland. It farm extends to approximately 140 hectares, which is managed in two blocks and supports a suckler herd of 200 cows producing finished beef animals.
The farm has been in the Power family for five generations, with John and his wife Catherine now running the business. They employ a local man who works with John full time on the farm, as Catherine is employed as principal of the local school. The Powers are hoping to pass the farm on to their son.
“Working with McDonald’s as a Flagship Farmer has put a huge emphasis on sustainability and the environment. And the more we’ve gone along, the more we’ve realized that this practice does mean a better bank balance.”
Key areas of sustainable practice
The farm is a member of the Bord Bia Beef Quality Assurance Scheme, which is an integrated scheme for beef producers and processors to provide the customer with quality assured beef. The scheme details elements such as legal compliance, animal welfare and environmental stewardship, which are independently audited and certified.
The farm is a member of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s HerdPlus information service, which provides a range of farm management data to aid and improve the productivity and economics of the beef enterprise.
The Powers have fitted rubber slat covers to the fully slatted concrete flooring in the winter housing. These increase the comfort and welfare of the animal while housed indoors.
Straw bedded calving pens and calf creep areas are provided during the winter housing period. This improves comfort for calving cows, helps reduce disease challenges at calving, and benefits calf health and welfare. A paddock grazing system allows the farm to more accurately match the nutritional demands of the livestock with the quality and availability of the grass. Although infrastructure costs are higher than for set stocked systems, the benefits from improved stock performance and pasture management have made this an excellent option for the beef enterprise.
By working with Teagasc and Dawn Meats, John has demonstrated a willingness to adopt new practices. Trials in new and alternative practices, which are undertaken on the farm, are then communicated via open days and workshops.
The farm is a member of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), which encourages simple and effective environmental management on the farm while providing economic support to allow the farm to undertake the necessary improvements, such as tree planting, fencing of waterways and establishing habitat areas for wildlife.
Learn more about John Power’s story
Explore the case study, where you’ll find extra details on how the farm has performed against the program’s good practice standards and criteria, what external research reveals about the producer's actions and how improved sustainability benefits them.
“One of the practices which has been very successful is the paddock grazing system that John now operates across the farm. This has increased grass productivity and improved animal performance from home-grown forage. With increasingly volatile feed prices impacting the profitability of beef production, growing and producing more high-quality forage or feed on the farm is a key aspect of a sustainable beef sector. John is keen to share his knowledge and practices with others, and is always looking to learn and improve what he is doing, which makes him an ideal Flagship Farmer.”
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