Dan O Donoghue

Dan O’Donoghue is a sucker farmer from county Kerry. The farm has been in the family for generations and Dan is passionate about maintaining older, more traditional methods and practices on the low-input farm. The farm is made up of wet grassland, species rich grassland, improved grassland and blanket bog. Part of the farm is in the Mullaghareirk Mountain Hen Harrier Special Protected Area and Dan joined the Hen Harrier Program in 2017. His involvement in the program included a beef trial whereby his cattle were grazed on the uplands during certain times of the year. The trial showed that when managed correctly, cattle play a crucial role in maintaining and improving habitats in upland areas, all the while producing high quality beef produce. “Since my involvement in the hen harrier project, I’m making much better use of the mountain land for grazing the cattle. It’s been a win-win for both myself and the hen harrier!”

Dan has been planting wild bird cover strips on the farm for years – providing a food supply for birds over the winter months - “the number of small birds these cover strips attract is unbelievable, you’d have to see it to believe it.” Dan is continuously working to manage the land in a way that protects and enhances the natural landscape and wildlife that make up the farm. He has implemented a rotational grazing system on the farm to manage the grassland. He also strip cuts the rushes around the land, providing habitats for ground nesting birds like pheasants - “the pheasants would talk to you at the moment they’re gone so plentiful around the place.”

Nomination Description:
Dan is a sucker farmer with 21 ha of wet grassland , species rich grassland, improved grassland and blanket bog in the heart of the Stack's to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle SPA breeding Hen Harrier Special Protection Area (SPA). Dan joined the Hen Harrier Program in 2017 and was a one of 12 development farms used to develop the project. Dan has taken part in beef trial with cattle feed buckets over the summer months for the past two years to show management of cattle in uplands and to produce stock for beef taste trails. This work was carried out to show beef from upland farms is high quality product and that delivery for nature and producing high quality beef can go together and older cattle are required to maintain and improve upland habits over the summer months at low stocking rates. Since then, Dan farm has been used for farm open days and developing seed mixes for strips of wild bird cover while has worked closely with the Project Team, participating further in trials, providing a stunning venue for some of our training videos, and farming in this very special landscape. Dan has planted 200 meters of wild bird cover for the past number of years. This was shown when Dan gave interview to RTE news in May 2020 to announce hen harrier bonus payment which was paid out to farmers due increase in nests in the SPA for 2019. He always thinking about how to improve his High Nature Value farmland in the most sensitive way to benefit his farming system and the biodiversity present on the farm. Dan has adopted a rotational grazing policy to improve the quality of habitats on the farm.
Nominator: Eoin McCarthy, Project Officer, Hen Harrier Project

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