Ballygalda Farms beat off stiff competition to take home the Weanling/Store to beef production award at the Origin Green Farmer Awards at the end of last year. Irish Tractor & Agri heard all about the success from the farmer owner himself, David Auchmuty.
These are busy times for Ballygalda Farms and farm owner David Auchmuty, as ever, is intent on things staying that way and keeping up with the current high demand.
Based along the Galway Road just outside the town of Roscommon, Ballygalda Farms has beef, sheep and tillage enterprises on a 250ha holding.
At the moment, the family-run farm is finishing 700 cattle per annum and runs a flock of 500 ewes.
It grows 70ha of barley, wheat and oats, along with 15ha of beet, all of which is fed on farm.
Irish Tractor & Agri caught up with David Auchmuty recently and the Co Roscommon native was good enough to take time from a busy schedule to fill us in on the rest.
“We’re based here along the Galway Road in Roscommon and basically I’ve been farming since I was 16 years old. I’m 63 now,” David outlined.
“We are private farmers, specialising in beef, sheep and tillage and my son Giles is the only other family member involved.”
Having started off in his teens, David wasn’t long becoming immersed in the business and now, nearly 50 years later, he still runs what is now an award-winning farm.
The long-term goals of Ballygalda Farms have always been to enhance facilities and systems to increase live-weight gain, faster throughput of stock through increased feed conversion and better animal health.
As for the numbers, the farm has 90.4 % of cattle graded R= or better with 72% of cattle slaughtered having a fat score between 3- and 4= while 88% of cattle slaughtered fell between 270kg and 380kg carcase weight and 95% of cattle slaughtered were less than 30 months.
“So we’d cover beef, sheep and tillage. Those are the three,” explained David.
“The tillage enterprise is 170 acres of grain and then there’s 40 acres of beet. We’ve 500 breeding sheep and we’re killing approximately 700 cattle a year.”
He added: “We’re killing cattle at the moment and unfortunately we’re genuinely losing money. Bulls, in particular, are a disaster.”
Needless to say, David and has been through plenty of ups and downs over the past 47 years since getting into the farming industry and is hopeful that things turn around on the cattle end as we near closer and closer to 2020.
All of the cattle and sheep at Ballygalda Farms are killed in Kepak and the Auchmuty family produces all of its own food on the farm, without having to sell any grain off of it.
This past December saw Ballygalda Farms’ achievements recognised on a national scale when they captured an award at the Origin Green Farmer Awards at The Heritage Hotel in Killenard, Co Laois.
The Weanling/Store to beef production award saw a shortlist of 39-strong nominees all across the country and, in the end, Ballygalda Farms were delighted to take home the gong.
For David, the success on the night came as somewhat of a shock with so many other farms and companies in the running.
“It was a big surprise for us, if I’m being honest about it,” he beamed.
“It’s not something that we entered for but there’s something like 240 farmers considered at those awards, so it was a great honour to come away with an award from it.”
Looking ahead, David is hopeful that the beef situation can improve for the second half of 2019.
After all, it’s a business that he and his son Giles are devoted to 365 days of the year and it’s that continued devotion that has brought Ballygalda Farms to where it is today.
“We’re born farmers here but if beef doesn’t change we’ll certainly have to relook at things,” he stated.
“Sheep have been going well, so we can’t complain on that end at all, and hopefully the beef will improve going forward for us.”
The Auchmutys are sure to keep busy either way and just to be sure they’ve recently invested in some new machinery to help keep up with the demand.
The machinery, which is being brought it soon according to David, has been bought brand new as well.
“We’ve a new sprayer coming soon and a fertilizer spreader as well,” he said.
“Because of the times that are in it, we’ve decided to go out and buy brand new rather than just go second hand with the machinery. Hopefully, they’ll be out plenty as soon as they arrive here.”
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Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 4, August 2019