RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 15

Ear to the Ground

Springtime is a time of renewal, rebirth and hope. Nowhere is this truer than on a farm. This year however, Schmallenberg is destroying the hope that comes with lambing and calving season. Schmallenberg is a devastating virus carried by midges that affects unborn lambs and calves, causing them to be aborted in the womb or born with severe deformities. The UK was very badly hit by Schmallenberg last year and it was hoped that the carrier-midges would not make it across the Irish Sea. Sadly, Schmallenberg has reached our shores and is set to become endemic. Darragh Mc Cullough visits two Wexford-based sheep farmers during early lambing and witnesses how their flocks are being ravaged by the gruesome disease. Michael and Shane Murphy speak with gut-wrenching honesty about the strain Schmallenberg has put them under - both emotionally and financially.

Ella Mc Sweeney meets the Connacht brothers who say constant innovation is the key to their success in what is considered a disadvantaged agricultural region. Derek and Brendan Allen are the third generation of their family to farm their 250 acres on Castlemine Farm in Roscommon, but they are the first generation to harness the power of the Internet and social media. Initially, they sold their meat and cooked food products directly from the farm but as their popularity has grown they have opened a shop in Roscommon town. They also sell directly online as the buzz about them on the Internet brings them customers from further afield.

At the tender ages of nine and thirteen respectively, Mikey and Danny Sheehy could already teach adults twice their ages a few lessons in commitment and dedication. They are both champion pony racers with ambitions of becoming jockeys when they grow up. The boys first came to prominence in January when Mikey was pictured looking triumphant on the front page of The Examiner having won his first race! Horse racing is in their blood and their father Éamonn is a trainer in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny. Helen Carroll meets the boys to learn about how their training fits in with school life and their hopes of becoming the next Johnny Murtagh and Ruby Walsh!

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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