James Breslin, an Inishowen hill farmer, runs a suckler and sheep farm in Donegal. He has reintroduced Galloway cattle to his farm as he feels their hardy nature is well suited to the mountainous conditions of the land. “The Galloways work will with the sheep as they like to graze the taller grasses and the sheep like to graze the lower grasses.” Many of the animal's live outdoors year-round, feeding on pasture and natural mountain vegetation during the summer months, and hay/silage during the winter. The animals are thriving in this systema and it reduces farm inputs like feed and fertilizer.
James has resown some of the farmland with red clover swards and multi-species grass swards, further reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizer and increasing biodiversity on the farm - “when the red clover is in flower, you can hear it before you see it - because of the amount of bees it attracts”. These diverse swards help build soil fertility and improve soil structure.
James has planted hundreds of native trees and continues to plant trees on his farm to create ‘green barns’ which serve as shelter for the animals while outdoors. He has dug 2 ponds on the farm to create a water habitat and encourage further biodiversity. He plans to create a riparian zone by planting trees along the riverbank to protect river water.
A member of the of the Operational Group of the Inishowen EIP, James welcomes visitors to his farm to learn more about his farming system.
Mr James Breslin is an innovative Inishowen hill farmer who has taken the decision to adopt changes to the management of his farm through the introduction of sustainable environmentally friendly farming methods with the aim to make his farm a profitable enterprise by contributing positively to the household and not a drain on it. His innovative farm practices include reintroducing the hardy Galloway cattle breed back on to both commonage and privately owned hill land thereby re-establishing traditional farming practices which in turn benefits the bio diversity of these areas, reduces the fire load and improves the environment. On his farm he is establishing diverse clover swards which require little or no artificial nitrogen fertilizer. Diverse swards also improve soil structure and have anthelmintic properties which reduce the need for treatments in cattle and sheep. The diversity in the swards also means that mineral and vitamin deficiencies are less likely to occur. He is also growing red clover swards for fodder provision. The red clover silage is utilized to finish cattle on the farm and as a high protein feed there is much less concentrated feed required. He is engaged in planting hundreds of native trees in selected areas on his farm thus increasing the resilience of the farm, improving soil structure and reducing the need for housing as well as sequestrating carbon. He is creating on farm ponds to increase biodiversity as well providing for flood mitigation downstream. Mr Breslin is a member of the Operational Group of the Inishowen EIP and has allowed his farm to be open as a demonstration farm for others to visit on an ongoing basis.
Nominator: Henry O Donnell, Project Manager, Inishowen Upland Farmers EIP