An income which has rocketed from rock bottom to nearly £4,000 annual profit in four years is a commendable achievement for any farming business.
When these figures come from a farm on some of the worst rush-covered land in Northern Ireland, they are indeed outstanding.
During a Press open field day last week at Vaughan Agricultural Institute, Tubrid, Kesh, County Fermanagh, the farm’s successful management story was highlighted.
The institute’s 147 acre farm was placed under new management in 1965 and the farm income has since risen dramatically. The institute has a long and varied history, dating back to 1753 when under the will of the late George Vaughan the Vaughan Charity was established.
Originally the institute was a centre for teaching various skills associated with the growing and processing of flax. Then for a period it was used as an orphanage.
The trustees decided in 1954 that the institute would be of the greatest benefit to the farmers of County Fermanagh if it could be run as a commercial farm business. Farmers could then study the methods of production and management at Tubrid before applying any of the techniques to their own farms.
Since 1965, when Mr Jim Hamilton was appointed as farm manager, the Ministry’s advisory officers have co-operated closely with the trustees in planning the development of the farm.
Farm management accounts are kept and these are used extensively in making management decisions.
Today under the direction of the trustees the farm is being run on commercial lines. The present stock consists of 60 dairy cows, 32 heifers, one boar and 36 sows and 15,000 pullets are reared annually.
The farm has a total acreage of 147 acres of which 88 acres can be cut for hay or silage. The remainder is rough grazing, woodlands, buildings and roads. The land tends to be heavy and is easily poached in wet weather.
The output of grassland has been greatly improved through liming, increased fertiliser usage and controlled grazing in recent years.
Developments during the past four years included the provision of additional silage, cubicle, and slurry accommodation for the dairy herd.
An eight point, 16-stall herringbone parlour was installed. The pig housing was also improved with the installation of sow stalls and the farrowing quarters were renovated.