The jewel in the crown of the Macra na Feirme year has arrived as over 2,000 Macra members descend on Gormanston, for the 2017 Macra na Feirme Rally this weekend (October 27th – 30th) at the CityNorth Hotel and Conference Centre. Hosted for the first time by Meath the ‘Make It Meath Royal Rally 2017’ is the culmination of over a year of hard work by Meath Macra.
As is tradition at this stage, the weekend will kick off with the Macra na Feirme/Irish Farmers Journal Know Your Ag 2017 Quiz National Final before the Rally embraces the Halloween vibe with its fancy dress theme ‘heroes and villains’ party. On Saturday attendees visit Country Crest and Kepak farms as part of the beef farm walk while those partaking in the diary tour will visit Joe Leonard and David Moore’s farms in Meath.
Michael Hoey of Country Crest finishes large numbers of heifers each year for his ready-made meals business, Ballymaguire Foods. Country Crest Farming farms a total of 3,200 acres made up of cereals, both winter and spring, potatoes, onions and in more recent years, the reintroduction of the beef herd. The beef farm will be the focus of the tour. Store cattle are brought in at a weight between 350 and 500 kilos and finished to a weight of 650 kilos. It is a continental heifer herd with some pure bred Aberdeen angus and Herford sucklers kept on the farm. Almost all the feed for the herd is grown on the farm. The second part of the farm walk will include a tour of the Kepak feedlot.
On the dairy tour, Moore's are milking 160 cows in a liquid milk system that has embraced EBI and grassland management while maintaining production. Last year the Fowlerstown Herd supplied the most kg’s of milk solids per cow out of any producer in the Glanbia production pool. This herd had also produced bulls of note such as Fowlerstown Stan (FLT).
Joe Leonard is milking 500 cows in a low cost, spring calving system in partnership with Darragh McCullough. Cows are housed on open topped cubicles, with a new rotary parlour being installed. Slurry is stored in a lagoon. Joe is a 2014 Nuffield scholar. His study was on Stress Management in Farming in Ireland.
For those looking for something different there will be a food safari across the Boyne Valley including Michael Finnegan’s goat farm and the newly opened Slane Distillery.
The Macra na Feirme Annual Conference 2017 ‘iFarming – Farming in the Information Age’ will take place on Saturday afternoon and will focus on the future of farming and the image of farming in the age of social media.
Contributors and speakers at the conference will include representatives from Alltech, Massey Ferguson, Country Crest, Teagasc, IFAC, Newstalk and Europa Bio.
The Meath Rally Committee are trying something a bit different on Saturday night -alongside the crowning of the Macra na Feirme Club of the Year and Best New Member, they will also be hosting a Macra na Feirme Patron’s Night, where former members are encouraged to come along and reconnect with members they may have lost touch with. As Macra looks towards its 75th anniversary in 2019, it’s important for the organisation to recognise those who helped make the organisation the nationwide body it is today. The event will begin at 8pm on Saturday October 28th in the CityNorth Hotel and Conference Centre.
Meath Rally Chairperson Dermot Connolly said, ‘This weekend would not be possible without our main sponsor Meath County Council and associate sponsors Keenan and Alltech. I would also like to extend my thanks to the many businesses who have sponsored and contributed to the event in whatever way they could. Their support is a true testament to the quality of the event we have planned.’
As is tradition the Macra na Feirme/Bord Bia Beef and Sheep Stockjudging All Ireland Finals will take place on Sunday.
Speaking about the upcoming Rally, Macra na Feirme National President James Healy said, ‘It is a great honour for any Macra region to host the Rally and I would like to congratulate and thank Meath Macra for their hard work and dedication in planning what is shaping up to be a magnificent weekend. From a social and informative point of view, I would encourage everyone to come along to Gormanston and Make It Meath for the Royal Rally 2017.’