Ask the Farmer Q&A with Henry O Donnell

Join us next Tuesday for the next #AsktheFarmer Q&A with Donegal farmer Henry O Donnell on grazing the uplands. Online, free to attend at 8pm. Just register here beforehand

The ‘Ask the Farmer’ series runs this Winter and Spring where a number of our amazing Ambassadors will be on-line to tell us a little more about their farm and farming system and to answer your questions about farming for nature.

Henry O Donnell manages a mixed organic farm in the uplands of north Donegal. The 92-hectare farm is made up of different types of land – lowland pasture, marginal upland and commonage. He runs a flock of 60 horned upland ewes. The sheep enterprise is a low input and low-cost system. Henry also runs a herd of suckler cattle, half continental breeds and half Galloways, producing high quality organic beef. External inputs are extremely low on the farm. Henry has been experimenting with growing red clover swards for winter fodder, as well as multi-species swards for grazing on the lowlands. The animals graze a mixture of diverse vegetation throughout the year as they move from the lowlands to the uplands. Last year Henry moved the Galloways uphill even further to graze the commonage land – “Galloways have done an excellent job on the upland and commonage vegetation as they are non-selective grazers. They have removed a lot of millennia and dead grass, thus improving the biodiversity of the land. They have also improved the grazing for the sheep that are coming after them.” Henry is passionate about the importance of grazing animals in maintaining marginal uplands – through reducing fire risks, maintaining plant diversity and fertilizing the land. “My whole attitude is to try and have a farming system that works for the environment that I’m in…” He is a strong advocate for low-impact, high nature value farming systems and this is reflected in the way in which he runs his own farm in the hills of Donegal.

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