Gurteen College – McDonald’s Flagship Farm Fieldtrip
As part of the Susliving Third Level Programme in Gurteen College, Susliving recently arranged for students of the Environmental and Sustainable Farming course to visit one of Mcdonald’s Flagship Farms. The Environmental and Sustainable Farming course is provided in conjunction with Susliving to give students the relevant knowledge, skills and competence to farm in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. Operating across all sectors of farming, these Flagship Farms are suppliers to McDonald’s and have been identified for their excellent practice in sustainability and high standards. As part of the Flagship Farms scheme, the farms encourage sharing of sustainable farming practices, and the students had a great experience visiting Dempsey Beef Farm.
Farmers Ray and Mary Dempsey pride themselves on their family run business. Using innovative farming techniques they produce quality produce, while demonstrating high standards in animal welfare and environmental care.
Animal welfare is paramount to the Dempseys and this is seen in the rubber covered slats in the winter housing for cattle, as well as the straw-bedded calving pens and calf creep areas. Good animal handling facilities allow for timely health checks to take place while improving worker safety and animal welfare.
As part of soil health considerations, soil testing is regularly performed and clover is grown to reduce the requirement of nitrogen fertilisers. A 15,000 litre tank has been installed to capture rainwater from the roof of the cow sheds and is expected to make a significant reduction to water costs. Similarly, reed beds have been installed in order to clean the grey water which runs off the concrete yards. The reed beds filter pollution using natural processes to maximise water quality, before the water is released into the local river.
Finally, one hectare of habitat and one hectare of Linnet have been planted, which provide food, shelter and habitation areas for the wild bird population.