GMIT student hits the jackpot with his heather reared wild fowl

Unused heather land in North Roscommon
Unused heather land in North Roscommon

SIXTY acres of largely unused heather land in North Roscommon has helped a GMIT student to scoop an enterprise award for his wild fowl project.

Kyle Flynn from Ballyfarnon is rearing chickens, turkeys, ducks and quail – mostly on a diet of heather, wild grass, wild herbs with some concentrates used to supplement the natural menu.

According to Kyle Flynn, research has shown that fowl fed mainly on a diet of wild heathers and seeds will have a more succulent taste as well being more tender than the normal bird.

And the benefits don’t end there. The wild diet also means that the meat from the birds has a higher than average vitamin E content, a vital aid to good general health.

“I come from a farming background where we keep suckler cows. I thought of this idea because we have about 60 acres of this heather land which isn’t being used perhaps as efficiently as it could be.

“Research shows this will bring a more succulent taste and tenderness to the meat and it will also have a higher vitamin E content too which is good for balancing cholesterol, thickening hair, slowing down the worsening effects of Alzheimer’s disease and also good for muscle growth,” said Kyle Flynn.

He said that researched carried out by the University of Bristol and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Devon, had found that sheep fed on a diet like this [heather based] had a higher vitamin E content as well as having more flavour.

For his ‘troubles’, Kyle won a €3,000 cash prize from the Roscommon Local Enterprise Office plus mentoring and back-up support.

He was encouraged to enter the competition by his GMIT lecturer, Kevin McDonagh and also by Tom Burke and Eimear Hughes on the Mountbellew Agricultural College Campus, that hosts part of the Business in Rural Enterprise and Agri-business degree course.

Kevin McDonagh, said that they were  extremely proud of Kyle’s achievement. “He has developed a novel idea and worked diligently in the preparation of his business plan and his pitch to the judges,” he said.