Ballard Organic Farm - Pat Lalor | Organic Trust Ltd

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Ballard Organic Farm - Pat Lalor.

Ballard Organic Farm has been owned and operated by the Lalor family since 1844. During the following 100 years the farm was - in reality - operated as an organic farm. For the next 50 years, it joined in the industrial revolution which took place in farming involving the use of synthetic chemicals to boost crop and animal production and to control unwanted weeds and diseases.

Pat Lalor’s late father, Thomas J. Lalor, who passed away in 1987, was an innovator in many ways in modern Irish farming during that era. In July 1939 he erected a windmill for pumping water to cattle, which replaced having to pump by hand. The total cost of the windmill was £47 and every single scrap of documentation regarding the purchase and erection of the windmill is still on file. In the 1940’s he was the first to have a Lanz tractor in this area and was the second farmer to buy a Claas combine harvester in the midlands. In 1956 he was the first farmer in Ireland to erect a ‘self-feed’ silage system, which over the next 25 years became the standard system for winter feeding of cattle. He was also a breeder of pedigree cattle and pigs in his earlier days and was an exporter of store cattle to UK farmers for over 30 years.


Those early years saw the reclamation and drainage of many farms in Ireland and the increase in agricultural output was significant. Farmers began to move away from hay making and into silage which was less dependent on good weather for saving. Farms became mechanized with the evolution of modern farm machinery and this was a fantastic step forward for those working on farms. At last the amount of pure hardship was begining to decline on Irish farms and Ballard Farm was not behind in this development. In the 1950’s there were at least three men working fulltime on the farm, plus the four Lalor brothers during holiday time. Now, even though output is much higher, there is only one person working on Ballard Organic Farm and this is Pat Lalor himself who does all the day to day work including the buying and selling of the animals and the growing of the crops and taking visiting groups around the farm. Pat hires local agricultural contractors to undertake the big annual operations such as silage making.

The next phase in the development of Ballard Farm surprised many of Pat’s farming colleagues and was perhaps seen as a very radical change. In July 1999, I decided to convert to ‘Certified Modern Organic Farming’, registered with the Organic Trust Ltd and thus began Ballard Organic Farm.

Why Organic Farming?

During the final three decades of the last century, due to EU regulations, farming production systems in Ireland and across western Europe, became very ‘intensive’, with the emphasis on maximum production rather than market requirements. This consequently led to over production and the inevitable introduction of ‘production limits or quotas’. This has resulted in reduced income from mainstream farming systems and hence the need arose for Pat to examine other means of land use in order to maintain a viable family income.

Pat spent a few years looking at a small number of alternatives which might meet his needs and he finally plucked up the courage to go for fully certified Organic farming in 1999. The key issue which swung it for organics was that there was a clear message coming from the market place; ‘we want organic food and we are prepared to pay for it’. Therefore, at that time my main reason for changing over to organic production was to ‘make more money’.

The experience has been rewarding both in terms of economic returns and job satisfaction.

Produce

Organic Beef

At Ballard Organic Farm, we produce and sell in excess of 300 organic beef cattle every year. These animals are purchased from a network of about 22 other certified organic beef suckler cow farmers. This network of suppliers has been built up over the past nine years and the buying takes place in September/October in locations ranging from the Burren in Co. Clare to Bundoran in Co. Donegal.

Throughout their lives, the animals are fed totally on an organically produced diet, all of which is produced from the farm at Ballard. The animals diet is monitored daily and a Keenan diet feeder along with Keenan technical assistance, is used to feed the cattle. The animals are bedded every day through out the winter with clean dry straw so as to ensure maximum animal welfare standards are maintained

The animals’ diet consists of cereals, chopped straw-to aid digestion, sea weed minerals and red clover silage. The drinking water for the animals is gathered on the farm from the roofs of all the farm buildings and it is stored in an underground tank.

The organic meat is sold on the Irish and UK markets into catering and retail outlets. Most of the meat is processed by Goodherdsmen Ltd in Co. Tipperary which is the only processing facility in Ireland exclusively dedicated to organic production. If you are interested in finding out how to source the beef, please contact either Pat Lalor or John Purcell at Goodherdsmen - Tel 052 45500.

Ballard Organic Cereals

While we use most of the organic cereals which we grow on the farm for our own beef animals, we also sell surplus cereals to other organic cattle, sheep, pig and poultry farmers. The cereals are grown as part of a well thought out rotation which is the genesis of successful organic production.

A new grain drier was purchased in 2007 which ensures maximum flexibility at harvesting time regarding the weather and ensures that the grain is in the ideal state for storage i.e. dry and free from weed seeds. In addition, the grain store was extended in 2008 which now facilitates the easy storage and handling of the different categories of grain for various uses.

We also purchase organic cereals e.g. wheat and barley, from neighboring organic growers. This allows us to have a variety of cereals to suit the needs of most organic producers, although we do not supply mixed rations for customers. For further information on these products, contact Pat Lalor directly - see contact details below.

 

 

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