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Dublin: 5°C Friday 25 September 2020

Pigs on a spit are the key to this young farmer's success

Meet Ireland’s top young farmer, Jonathan Marry (27).

Image: Macra na Feirme

JONATHAN MARRY IS not your typical pig farmer.

At 27, the Louth native is younger than most others in the industry, having run his family’s Drogheda farm since 2009.

That experience proved important during the farm inspection and interviews involved in the judging process for the FBD Young Farmer of the Year, which he won earlier this week.

But what really made him stand out from other competitors was his catering business, the Pig Spit and BBQ Company.

Four years ago, Marry bought a single pig roasting machine with the aim of earning some extra money through local catering gigs.

Now, with a total of six machines, he and a chef travel to functions across the country on weekends, doing an average of four pigs every week.

The team has served up at least 70 pigs so far this summer, he estimates, adding that he hopes to double that number next year.


So could catering become a full-time venture? “I don’t think so,” he says.

The yard has to come first. This is what I’ve inherited from my dad.

His father, Jack Marry, who died in 2008, was one of Ireland’s most well-known pig farmers.

The farm he passed down to his son now holds 540 sows, with fattening accommodation for 800 pigs.

xywu4PUiO4-JSos0WiIglAw5lO-1YuN_aricvKYWh00,q0STT70mkIkGAbSDvap16mJ1W5dPe2CO_qd56WxcPEM Source: Macra na Feirme

Marry is one of three full-time staff farming the land at present.

New pigs are born there every day, he says, while some 230 go to slaughter every week.

About 200 weaners are sold off site in any given month.

His next big goal is to make the farm entirely self-sufficient by building 800 extra fattening places.


While farming and catering duties mean he rarely gets a day off, Marry says his involvement in the European Pig Producers (EPP), a network for pig farmers, keeps him engaged with the outside world.

As a committee member of the group’s Irish branch, he has travelled to Europe on several occasions to visit other pig farms and attend conferences.

Marry cites the experience when asked if he ever feels isolated as a young farmer, saying the role has allowed him to keep in regular touch with people who share similar experiences.

Once he does get a break from the farm, fishing and shooting also help him unwind.

He is a member of his local gun club and says hunting is his favourite hobby.

His work, though, is what ultimately drives him.

“I’ve been fully dedicated to it for six years now,” he says.

It’s a life I was born into… I wouldn’t swap it for any other job.

Read: Politicians who own pubs tell us what has gone wrong for rural Ireland

Read: Forget Tinder – lonely Irish farmers are looking for love on Facebook 

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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