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Excellence in Irish Dairy Farming National Quality Milk Awards 2018 Winners Announced


The country’s top prize for best quality milk has been awarded to Darran and Denise McKenna of Derrygasson, Co Monaghan. The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards has been running since 1996 and celebrates excellence in Irish dairy farming.

The winners were announced in Dublin today (3rd October 2018) with presentations to nine of Ireland’s top dairy farms by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.  Winners were accompanied by their family and received a prize of €5,000 and the coveted NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual cup. The judges for this year’s awards were Dr Jack Kennedy, Dairy Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Professor Pat Wall from UCD and, Dr David Gleeson from Teagasc.  Chef and food writer Clodagh McKenna is once again Food Ambassador for the 2018 awards.

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said “The farmers who are nominated for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are representing milk pools of hundreds or sometimes even thousands of dairy farmers in their own co-ops.  These Awards are instrumental in recognising the huge passion, sacrifice and hard work that Irish farmers carry out 24/7 365 days a year to produce a high-quality product revered all over the world”.

At least five generations are known to have farmed in Darran and Denise’s farm in Derrygasson. They have four children; Daithí, Caragh, Micheál and Annie. The McKenna’s farm is very much a family farm, their nephews and nieces are all available to help out in times of need and even their neighbour Cormac helps out with relief milking. Success to Darran is the ability to grow more grass sustainably. The family invested heavily in the farm in 2007 when sheds, parlour and tunnels were constructed to allow them build the cow numbers from 60 to 90 by 2017 and up to 105 cows this year. As Darran said himself “The right steps are as easy as the wrong steps, it’s just a matter of learning the right steps.”

Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the NDC said “We are fortunate to be working with such a healthy, nutritious product produced to very high standards.  And it is those high standards in Irish dairy farming that we are going to reward and celebrate today. Irish dairy produce has a superb reputation for quality in global markets. In Ireland, our green countryside is a tremendous asset because the pasture-based model of dairy farming is a vital ingredient for the success of Irish dairy produce all over the world.”

For each of the nine farms, the judges detail the combined fat and protein percent for each month of the year, the total volume sold from the farm, the weighted average somatic cell count (SCC) and the total bacteria count (TBC). These results certainly help in formulating the winning farms but a lot more detail and additional factors are of course considered.

Dr Jack Kennedy, Dairy Editor of Irish Farmers Journal   spoke on behalf of the national judging panel and thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards, he said

“The Quality Milk Awards judging is one of the highlights of the year for the judging panel. We get to travel the length and breadth of Ireland and visit family farms that are delivering excellence every year. Nineteen farms were nominated this year and nine were short listed for a farm visit. These farms were located in 6 different counties from west Cork to Monaghan. The standard once again was exceptional and highlights the capacity of Irish family dairy farms to produce a high-quality product that is unique to Ireland. All farms are producing top quality milk solids and milk quality from facilities which are the ultimate in cleanliness and hygiene, which, is essential as the global consumer is raising the bar every year. There is no doubt Irish dairy farmers are also reaching new heights in a consistent and sustainable manner."

That is quite a serious short-listing process to start out with.  We had a particularly strong level of entries this year and after careful consideration, the judges short-listed again, selecting 9 national finalists who are represented in the room today, whose farms they have all physically visited and inspected.

John Jordan, Chief Executive of Ornua said “Together with the NDC, we have shared in the pride of a special heritage, telling the compelling story of Irish dairy family farming on the global stage. The Irish dairy farmers we celebrate today are ambassadors for all farmers. They, in partnership with world-class co-operatives, produce the highest quality dairy which our consumers around the world truly love. I would like to congratulate all category winners, especially national winners for 2018 – The McKenna family. We are proud to support the Quality Milk Awards which continue to go from strength to strength each year.”


Winners – 2018 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards #madeforthis

National Winners of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards 2018

McKenna Family, Derrygasson, Co.Monaghan

Nominated by LacPatrick Dairies

Runners Up

Tom, Mary & Michael Ryan, Co. Tipperary 

Nominated by Centenary Thurles Co-op

Category Awards for Excellence

Business Innovation

Else Furney, Ballinagaragh, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co. Cork

Nominated by Barryroe Co Op

Data Management Award

Tom, Mary & Michael Ryan, Co. Tipperary 

Nominated by Centenary Thurles Co-op

Development Award

Tim and Dan Crowley, Careys Cross, Clancoolbeg, Bandon, Co. Cork

Nominated by Bandon Co Op

Healthy Herd Award

McKenna Family, Derrygasson, Co.Monaghan

Nominated by LacPatrick Dairies

Best Protein Production

Liam and Dolores O'Donovan, Clohane, Skibbereen, Co. Cork

Nominated by Drinagh

Best SCC

John Patrick Keating & Family, Crobally, Old Parish, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

Nominated by Glanbia Ireland

Sustainability Award

John O'Shaughnessy, Ballynolan, Kildimo, Co. Limerick

Nominated by Kerry Agribusiness

Best TBC

Kevin Downing, Parkduv Farm Ltd, Farranastig, Whitechurch, Co. Cork

Nominated by Dairygold Co Op

Best Winter Milk

John McTiernan, Mullaghavorneen, Co. Longford

Nominated by Aurivo

Catherine Fitzgerald