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NDC & Kerrygold

Quality Milk Awards

The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards is an annual national award programme which recognises standards of excellence in dairy farming.

Dairy co-operatives throughout the country are invited to nominate their top suppliers for the awards each year. The farms nominated for the annual awards undergo a detailed assessment by an expert judging panel based on milk quality test results and technical reports spanning a full 12-month period in order to select a short-list of finalists. 

The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards assesses the top dairy farms across several key areas:

  • Animal Health & Welfare
  • Hygiene
  • Dairy and Parlour Facilities
  • Pride and Passion
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Sustainability and the Environment

NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards 2023 winners – Macnamara Family from Co. Limerick

Considering the growing importance of sustainability across farming and food production, we have introduced additional criteria to identify farmers operating a sustainable dairy operation with clear evidence of excellent practices in the areas beyond quality milk. We are specifically looking for farmers demonstrating their care for the environment, animals, and livelihood.  While the quality of milk produced is the ultimate indicator of excellence, judges are now seeking finalists who achieve optimum performance in five key areas: 

  • Quality Milk
  • Nutrient Management
  • Stock Management
  • Business Management
  • Infrastructure

Meet Our Winners

2023 Quality Milk Awards Winners

Macnamara Farm


Nominated by Kerry Agribusiness

John Macnamara alongside his wife, Olivia, farms in Gormanstown, Hospital, Co. Limerick. Their four children, Caoimhe, Conor, Ailbhe and Padraic, all contribute to the running of the farm. John believes that working together fosters a strong family connection and ensures the Macnamara family values are ingrained in their family farm. The farm’s legacy traces back to John’s father Pat, who entrusted John with its care after he completed the Green Cert at Teagasc, Kilmallock. John’s passion for farming was instilled from an early age. As the eldest of six children, he developed a robust work ethic and love for the land. With an understanding that the milk leaving his yard will shortly be on the consumers’ table, John takes immense pride in producing a product that is of the highest quality.


2022 Quality Milk awards WINNERS

Nominated by Aurivo

Austin and Yvonne Connelly farm with their four daughters, Ava, Anna, Jane and Kate, in Tuam, Co. Galway. Fifth-generation farmers, they are relatively new to dairy farming having made the transition just four years ago. The entire experience has been a whirlwind, albeit an enjoyable one. 

Converting to dairy farming had its challenges, requiring a lot of patience and control, and would not have been possible without the support and expertise of their milk advisor, local discussion groups and peer farmers. The epitome of modern farming, the four girls are constantly seeking out ways to make the processes on the farm even more efficient and effective.

MCCARTHY Farm | Limerick

2021 Quality Milk awards WINNERS

Nominated by Kerry Agribusiness

Michael and Alex McCarthy are based in Feenagh, Co. Limerick, and have been farming together for the past four years. Michael, a fifth-generation farmer, began helping his father out on the family farm almost 46 years ago. They live on the farm with Michael’s wife, Mary Ita, and Alex’s family, wife Siobhan and daughter Chloe. Since Alex’s return to the farm four years ago, the father and son duo expanded their land to enable further growth, and subsequently increased their herd size. Made for the outdoors, Michael considers himself a lucky man – dairying has been the love of his life, and himself and Mary Ita are most happy when farming, gardening or spending time with their granddaughter.

Meet the Judges

Professor Patrick Wall

Professor of Public Health at UCD 

“Every year, entrants to the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards impress the judges with high calibre production practices and commitment to sustainable farming. Each finalist was put through intense scrutiny, including a thorough analysis of milk quality reports and technical data spanning 12 months. The judging process also included an inspection on farm to gain insights into areas such as animal welfare and sustainability. All finalists clearly demonstrated excellent standards in all facets of food production and are true ambassadors for Irish dairy.”

Prof. Patrick Wall is both a vet and a medical doctor and is Professor of Public Health in University College Dublin, and a member of the UCD Institute for Food and Health. His research areas include food safety, nutrition and managing lifestyle related disease through behavioural change. As a doctor he is a specialist in Communicable Diseases and was the head of the Foodborne Diseases Division of the UK CDC.  

He was the first Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and contributed to the setting up of this science-based consumer protection agency created in response to the BSE crisis. He is a member of the international scientific advisory committee of the Chinese National Agency for Food Safety and Risk Assessment. He is also on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

He is chairperson of Independent Milk Laboratories, a joint venture between Progressive Genetics and the UK National Milk Records Group (NMR). He is on the board of management of Agri Aware.

Dr. David Gleeson

Milk Quality Research, Teagasc 

“When choosing a winner for this competition, the key parameters are top milk quality, a high standard of hygienic milking facilities, an economically sustainable system, consideration for the environment and the ability to take on the role of ambassador for the dairy industry.”


Dr. David Gleeson is a Research Officer in the Livestock Systems Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Moorepark. He is currently responsible for a research area with a focus on improving the quality of milk produced on dairy farms, with specific focus on milk hygiene, milk storage, teat disinfection, cleaning of milking equipment, detergents, minimizing residues at farm level and udder health.  

David is presently leading a number of research projects and has published over 80 peer reviewed research papers. His previous research interests include machine milking, milking frequency, calf-rearing and farm labour efficiency. He hails from a farming background in Newport, Co. Tipperary. He has an MSc from University College Cork and a PhD degree from University College Dublin. 


Professor of Dairy Production, UCD

“The ambitious future plans on each farm to continue to improve sustainability impressed the judges and the drive to leave the farm to the next generation in better shape was inspiring.”

Professor Karina Pierce graduated with a BAgrSc in 2001 and completed her PhD in 2005, both from UCD. She is Professor of Dairy Production, Director of External Relations and Programme Director for the BAgrSc Dairy Business Programme in the School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD. Her research focus is on the sustainability of dairy production systems.

Karina is a board member of Bord Bia and chairs the Meat and Livestock Subsidiary Board. She is also a Board Member of AgriAware, a past President of the Agricultural Science Association and a former member of the Teagasc Authority. Karina is also a 2019 Nuffield Ireland Scholar and a former Board Member of Nuffield Ireland. Her Nuffield research focused on future-proofing the agri-food sector through robust research.

For further information on the awards and to read about previous winners please visit or email