‘We think someone else will experience a farm tragedy and not ourselves’
Padraig Moran learned a valuable lesson about safety the day a cow crushed his legs, writes Claire Fox
Safety was the main reason behind farmer Padraig Moran’s decision to install a 70-unit suckler shed on his farm which he runs in partnership with his wife Nuala and son Eoin outside Borrisokane in Co Tipperary.
“In the early 2000s I was helping a neighbour calve a cow and unfortunately I was the first in line when it fell on top of me and it made bits of my legs. Thanks be to God I was fine and the neighbours looked after the farm when I was in recovery because I was out for the whole spring,” says Padraig, who hosted the recent Teagasc and North Tipperary Farm Safety Day.
“The new suckler unit allows for safety procedures which we just wouldn’t have done before. Before this we were just throwing ourselves in at the mercy of the cow at calving time but now we can get the cow in the pen and protect ourselves,” says Padraig of the seven-bay unit they installed this year.
“We’re always convinced someone else will experience a farm tragedy and not ourselves.”
The building of the suckler unit is a sure sign that the Moran family are committed to the beef industry. The family also rent a 70-acre plot of land in addition to the 120 acres of their home farm for their 70 sucklers made up of mainly Limousin Crosses and 170 sheep to graze.
While the family are dedicated to their beef and sheep operation, Padraig remarks that a lot of pressure has been put on farmers to switch to dairying which he is “fearful” of.
“I’m worried that we are putting all our eggs in one basket in Ireland and that isn’t a good thing.
“When I took over this farm from my uncle 40 years ago he was very much a mixed farmer. He had tillage and livestock so if one was a little bit down, the other could keep him going. There is a lot of peer pressure on us to go into dairying but it isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t for me.”
In 2010 Padraig completed a life coaching course in Athlone and it was around this time that he decided to open up the farm to agricultural science student tours and tourist groups which he says has increased the viability of his farm.
“It’s amazing, about 65pc of the students who visit have never been on the farm before. I don’t know would you call it a stroke of genius or innovation when we decided to open the farm. I was always open-minded. Some people say it was thinking outside the box but I say it’s thinking in the box about what could I do,” he adds.
“Any single farm payment I got over the years, I’m standing on it now. I put every bob of it in to making this farm more viable and a safer environment for us,” says Padraig whose son Ronan works in Arrabawn in nearby Nenagh.
While Padraig is worried that Brexit could put the farm out of business, he maintains the biggest problem facing farmers is isolation.
“Farmers are on their own all day and if a partner comes home the farmer might think the last thing they want to hear is their problems. We have mobile phones and everything but we are still so isolated.
“One time farmers were able to go down to the local pub and chat to other farmers and it wasn’t for the drink element. We are social beings; we need to talk to people and if we have a bad day we were able to talk to each other and help each other feel right again.”