Today we were able to visit Jim Droney’s beef farm. This farm is located in the mountains of western Ireland. When we arrived, Jim took us part of the way up the mountain for an excellent overview of his beautiful 80 hectare (200 acres) farm. He runs about 200 head of cattle, and 200 sheep on this land. He only farms part time, as he also owns and runs a crop service company called Crop Link.
The cattle were crosses between Limousin, Simmental, and Blondes. He is starting to lean more towards the Simmental and Limousin crosses, as he is seeing the need for his heifers to produce more milk. He only uses natural service bulls as he runs a low maintenance operation. He recently purchased a beautiful Limousin bull for 4,000 Euros ($4,240). He will turn the bull out on March 1st, and pull him 8 weeks later. He aims to calve the cows in January. He keeps a fairly young herd, with about 70 heifers as well. This year he also kept back 25 bulls this year that he plans to castrate and feed out. He did mention that some of the Blonde calves he has tend to feed out slower, as this is also pushing his change towards Limousin and Simmental.
With the cattle, he does not have many issues with predators or health issues. On the other hand, the sheep tend to have hoof problems with as wet as the climate is, as well as problems with blow flies. (If you like gross but gratifying videos, YouTube bot fly extractions and be amazed!) The wool of the sheep is actually a nuisance to the farmer, and Jim does not actually shear them but sells them to market before that time.
At market, he sells beef for about 4.05 Euros/kilogram as a base price. They also have a food board accreditation that will increase this price as well as a grading system similar to the US system of Prime, Choice, and Select.
This farm is absolutely beautiful and wonderfully managed, and after the tour we enjoyed hot tea and delicious scones made by Jim’s wife, Mary.