Wexford farmer rewarded with M&S accolade at agricultural show
Published 21/05/2016 | 00:00
A Wexford producer for Marks & Spencer has been rewarded for his talent as an inspirational producer at an M&S 'Farming for the Future' Award presentation, which took place at the Balmoral Show, the North's biggest agricultural show.
Ger Rochford, from Cleariestown, was runner-up in the Outstanding Producer Award which champions forward-thinking individuals whose technical ability or business aptitude promises to make a positive impact on their sector.
Ger juggles a busy agricultural contracting business with a beef rearing and finishing enterprise, supplying beef to M&S through Slaney Foods International.
Farming jointly with his brother and employing two other full-time and three part-time members of staff, Ger follows a strict routine of animal performance assessment to ensure that he produces the best quality beef for M&S in as efficient a manner as possible.
This includes carrying out annual health tests prior to housing in the Autumn to ensure that the cows due to calve are fed the right balance of minerals in their winter ration, plus regular forage testing to ensure the cows' nutritional needs are met at all the key times in the farming calendar.
A number of trials have been carried out on farm to establish the best way to manage grassland and maximise grass growth, and Ger has adopted specific paddock rotations for his cattle, based on their needs and growth targets.
'I'm always working towards achieving one calf per cow per 365 days, plus reducing the age when cattle are finished across the farm.
'We regularly weigh cattle to ensure they are meeting their required growth targets and, thanks to this high attention to detail, we are producing 98 per cent of our cattle to meet the beef specifications of M&S,' said Ger.
Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S said:
'Ger is a very worthy winner and has proved this by demonstrating his innovative thinking, commercial success and social responsibility in the way he manages and executes his business.
'Our judges were particularly impressed with Ger's scientific approach to all aspects of the farming process including his use of monitoring systems to ensure his clear targets are achieved,' said Mr McClean.