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Ear to the Ground

Series 22: Programme 17

Ear to the Ground

Savage Dogs
Your loving pet dog can be a savage killer in the company of other dogs. With lambing season well under way, new born lambs are a tempting target for straying dogs.

Along with the distress caused by such attacks, they also pose a huge financial loss for farmers. Darragh McCullough visits Gus Martyn, a farmer in Dunderry who was one of several in his area to be attacked in the past month.

An emotive issue between dog lovers and farmers, according to the Irish Farmers Association, there are three to four hundred attacks each year, with as many as 4000 sheep injured or killed. Will compulsory micro chipping be enough to solve this perennial problem? Or should there be a levy on dog food to fund dog control measures?

Surviving a tough market through innovation When supermarkets started selling vegetables for 7 cents in December 2013, Cork vegetable farmer Joe Murphy realised he needed to do more with the carrots, beetroot and parsnips growing on his farm if he was going to stay in business.

After some trial and error Joe and his wife Sandra came up with the idea of turning their vegetables into crisps, and so Joe's Farm Crisps were born. They tried some out with regular customers at the farmers' market in Mahon before jumping into it and buying a mobile kitchen. What started as a 37 bag a week operation is now producing a thousand bags a week, securing their future.

Looking to the future, the end of dairy quotas and our Northern neighbours Northern dairy farmers have operated in an essentially quota free regime for the past decade or so. When it comes to expansions, and balancing professional and personal lives, what lessons can be learned?

Ryan Carr is a dairy farmer from County Down who expanded 6 years ago, nearly trebling his farm in size from 50 cows on 22 acres, to 180 cows on 120 acres.

While he is doing well it has been an incredibly difficult journey. With the quota system in the republic set to finish at the end of April, now is a good time to take stock of what lies ahead.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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