Lir Agri is a relatively-new local Irish company that specialises in producing a premium range of high-quality dairy hygiene products, which are developed and manufactured here in Ireland. We visited the innovative operation’s base in Granard, County Longford to find out more from founder / Michéal Savage.
Lir Agri is at the forefront of dairy bio-security, developing superior dairy hygiene solutions here in Ireland and delivering peace of mind to end users. Michéal Savage, who set the business up in late 2013, reflects on the genesis of the company and the thinking behind its establishment:
“The bio-security market was the one we were looking at, bio-security being a scientific name for agri and bacterial hygiene. I’m an analytical chemist myself and had worked in the pharma-chemical industry, while also having strong links to farming. My father, Joe, runs a farm in Westmeath and I grew up on the family farm. Through both those links I identified a significant gap in the market and Lir Agri was developed from there.”
The company was set up initially to provide dairy hygiene solutions but quickly identified other gaps in the market to cater for beef and pig farmers.
Lir Agri formulates and brings to market a full range of dairy and agri hygiene and cleaning products to help farmers protect their animals by stopping the spread of bacteria and diseases that can have a detrimental effect on their business.
Equipped with state-of-the-art research and development labs to ensure the delivery of high quality products that work as they are meant to, Lir Agri is focused on bringing innovation and quality to dairy and agri hygiene. Their hygiene products are designed to solve the issues dairy farmers will face as they expand post-2015, including additional testing and stricter regulations.
More than €1 million has been invested in a new research and manufacturing facility in Granard. Lir Agri strives to develop the most effective, high quality products for farmers and undertakes a huge amount of research to ensure the development of exclusive and premium Irish products. To this end, the company – which is 100% Irish-owned – has partnered with Athlone Institute of Technology’s (AIT) Bioscience Research Centre to determine the most efficient substances at destroying thermoduric bacteria.
Every part of the process – from raw material intake to development to manufacture – takes place under one roof. Each product goes through a rigorous development and quality assurance process to ensure premium dairy hygiene solutions. All products are approved by the Department of Agriculture.
To ensure full accountability and traceability, every product is fully controlled throughout the manufacturing process in compliance with rigorous in-house standards and current legislation. Lir Agri’s dedicated team boasts vast experience of the agriculture, chemical, environmental, business and service industries.
With such a keen emphasis on innovation, research and development, it takes a tremendous amount of work to bring each product to the market: “A lot of work goes on behind the scenes,” Michéal confirms. “You have a nine-eighteen month research phase before you can place a new product on the market, for example a new a teat dip etc. It’s a time-consuming process but this ensures that all of our products are proven and effective.
“Our main range of products at the moment is on the disinfectant side. Remember, a farmer has to use disinfectant every day – sometimes twice a day – to keep the quality of his milk as high as possible. The biggest impact we are making is with our range of teat sprays to protect against bacteria, which are changing all the time, so we have stepped in to provide products that can counteract the mutating thermoduric bacteria going forward.”
Bacto-Lac is Lir Agri’s flagship teat spray – a powerful antibacterial disinfectant with pre- and post-milking approval and added moisturiser for teat conditioning, which also contains humectant and emollient molecules allowing the skin to retain its natural moisture.
“That’s our most popular product with farmers and we also have seasonal teat sprays as well because different bacteria thrive at different times of year,” says Michéal.
“As a new company, you have to develop something that’s really going to get people’s attention and give farmers the exact results they are looking to get. That’s what Bacto-Lac has done. It’s the product that has put Lir Agri on the map. We did a lot of key trials to develop that product and we were able to clinically test and prove it in conjunction with AIT prior to launch.”
Hydra-Mil is another strong-selling detergent for daily use on farms, while – on the disinfectant side of things – Oxy-B22 is a serious weapon to combat thermoduric bacteria and prevent the spread of viruses during calving season.
All in all, Lir Agri currently has a range of eleven products, all of which have been developed and formulated in-house and are available across a growing network of merchants nationwide.
Of course, it takes time for new products to work their way into the collective subconscious but the response to Lir Agri’s range of Irish-manufactured bio-security products – which offer an ideal alternative to long-haul imports – has been extremely encouraging to date.
“When you’re releasing a new brand, you have to take into account the initial downtime you’re going to experience due to building the chemical plant and the R&D facility, as well as carrying out all the trials and tests, so the reality is that we’ve only really been trading for around twelve months,” Michéal notes.
“In that time, we have made fantastic progress. We are in 24 counties in the Republic of Ireland already and I have also identified a couple of key agents in the north of Ireland that I want to carry the products. We are getting great support from Irish farmers and we will continue to grow organically.
“We are extremely price-competitive as all of our competitors’ products are coming in from the UK and Europe and we can counteract the transportation costs. We can develop an excellent product and stand over what we sell. There are no barriers either because we are at home and there is full traceability. Farmers who buy our products know exactly who they are dealing with and they really are supporting us, in fairness. In turn, we are here, on their doorstep to support them. They are striving to produce the highest-quality milk out there and are leaving no stone unturned – our products are clinically tested and proven to help with that.”
Another important aspect of Lir Agri is that it provides gainful local employment to a team of eleven personnel. “The plan is to build that up to 20 over the next year,” Michéal concludes. “We are also hoping to break new territory and enter new markets. In the shorter term, we’ll look at the UK market – if they’re coming over here then why can’t we go over there?”
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 3 No 8, September 2015