Kildare farmer, Anthony Mooney, has not reseeded land in twenty-five years, has not used chemical fertiliser in over twenty years and produces beef cattle from a small concentrate input.
He farms a 200-acre beef enterprise with his wife, Mary Rose, and son, Conor, on what he described as “typical Kildare soil”.
Kildare beef farmer
The farm comprises a weanling-to-beef enterprise with 70-120 cross-bred continental cattle, along with 15 suckler cows and an Aberdeen Angus bull.
They place a focus on growing high-quality grass from their fertile limestone soil, running a low-impact system.
“This is typical Kildare soil. It is heavy limestone soil, with some prone to flooding and heavy rainfall,” Anthony explained.
“We buy in store cattle every autumn and spring and finish them on the farm. Cattle numbers generally run from 100-120, with the objective of selling most of those cattle every year to the factory.”
They cut hay and silage off the land every year for winter feeding, having previously converted from tillage.
The multi-species hay meadows go to flower in the summer months, providing crucial habitats and food sources for various insects and ground-nesting birds.
The biodiversity and wildlife enthusiast has spent years observing and recording different plant, bird and insect species on his land.
Rare plant species he has recorded on the farm include toothwort, sweet woodruff and wild orchids.
“Over the past two years, I have started targeting specific species on the farm that I thought needed help – birds, mammals, insects and plants.”
“For example, we have been focusing on ground-nesting birds like skylarks and meadow pipits. I delayed the mowing of a field last summer because there was a nesting skylark in one of the meadows.”
Ponds and hedgerows
Besides, two ponds on the land create important water habitats for frogs, birds, and insects.
Trees and hedgerows are also important habitats on the 200-acre holding.
“I have put in around 600-700 meters of hedges on the farm, and I have never taken out a hedge. I manage hedges for biodiversity. They are cut back every 4-5 years to encourage new growth.”
Farming for Nature
Now in its fourth year, FFN aims to “source, share and celebrate the stories of farmers across Ireland who manage their land in a way that sustains nature while providing a livelihood for their families”.
The seven ambassadors will feature at the annual Burren Winterage Weekend in October. Organisers will announce the winner of the public vote at this event.
To share your story, email – [email protected]