The President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, David Brown recently hosted a farm tour and meeting with members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists in Northern Ireland.

David explained that five generations of the Brown family connection have farmed at Drumgague, Drumhack Road, Florencecourt and the farm he is now resident on had been owned by his grandmother. He inherited a derelict house and he and his wife, Mary built a new house where they established their family of three daughters and a son, Neil, who helps on the farm.

The farm extends to around 200 acres with some woodland.

David and Neil manage 70 suckler cows finishing progeny to beef with a breeding sheep flock. He has since sold off the breeding sheep and instead buys in store lambs for winter grazing for fattening without meal.

David explained how he had drained land extensively over the years as it is heavy clay land, about seven metres apart with some gravel tunnelling two metres apart. This, he said, had enabled him to improve perennial ryegrass swards and making better quality silage.

Male calves are generally finished as bull beef under 16 months and the heifers also finished or they are taken to the live ring.

David explained that for his first 15 years of farming, he had no TB reactors but in 1996 had a breakdown in an animal bought-in. Since then he has been closed with TB every few years or so and with constant testing.

His son, Neil, works off farm for De Laval and one of his daughters who studied a degree in Agricultural Technology and now works in nutrition with Lakeland Dairies and recently married, has her own flock of breeding sheep. His other two children have careers outside farming.

Following full-time work as UFU President, he is sometimes not home until midnight following night meetings but tries to spend an hour in the yard in the mornings before driving off to pursue Union business.

He said he was a full-time UFU President and part-time farmer concentrating on farm work on Saturdays.

His Union schedule is often demanding. He was recently on a five-day trip to Croatia as part of COPA, the European farm union organisation. He often has three-day meetings to London as well as attending show prize-givings and some YFC dinners as well as travelling to UFU headquarters in Belfast to chair meetings.