Sheep farmer John is top of the class
Wexford farmer John Earle, who has a farm based in Ballycanew, has been named as Sheep Farmer of the Year at the sixth National Farmer Awards, held in Athlone.
The awards themselves aim to recognise excellence in farming and to reward Ireland's farmers for the challenging, important work they do and the contribution they make to their communities and to wider Irish society.
John Earle explained that he has really been a farmer all his life.
'This is the biggest award we have ever gotten. I wouldn't have won it and the work wouldn't be done only for having a good team behind me, which are my family. We're all interested in sheep and love the work.
'We've all been working hard building up the farm as a team. We have 300 sheep at the moment and 50 yew lambs and the main thing you need to do is make sure the feed is right for them,' he said.
John was previously a runner up in the competition and won an award for the tidiest farm yard, but John's reward this time included a cash prize of €2,000.
'My favourite time of the year is spring time, it's a busy time with all the lambs being born. Every year we buy in new rams, always five star quality.
'We have recently invested in better breeding programmes to produce top end sheep with better muscle and grade'.
Looking ahead to the future, John said the next generation is very important.
'My daughter has a PHD in sheep from UCD and my son Edward will take over the farm handling after myself and my wife,' he said.