Strawchip Ltd, Kildare
Strawchip Limited is a successful enterprise which is owned by the Owens Brothers, Gavin, Francis and Diarmuid Owens who are involved in farming in the Athy area.
Strawchip is a family concern which supplies straw to the mushroom composter, livestock farmer and also for a range of other uses. The brothers acknowledge that like all farmers, their margins have come under increasing pressure and for that reason they have needed to augment their farm income by adding as much value as possible to their products.
One of these products is ‘Strawchip’. The company process straw into a highly absorbent product which has been developed primarily as an option for bedding of animals. Strawchip has met with considerable success in the marketplace and in 2011 the company received grant assistance of €35,625 from County Kildare LEADER Partnership towards the purchase and installation of an automated weather proof packaging system for their product.
The Owens brothers also received grant assistance of €34,590 in 2010 from County Kildare LEADER Partnership towards an innovative briquetting project which uses the waste co-products from the straw processing plant and produces briquettes for fuel purposes.
They have also established an e-commerce website for the marketing of the briquette and strawchip products. The promoters are currently further developing their business with the installation of a new bailing machine to produce 200kg bales of milled straw to the market.
Thanks to the grant assistance, four full-time jobs have been sustained by the enterprise as well as one part-time and three seasonal jobs.
Gavin Owens, Straw Chip Limited says that:
“Strawchip Limited is a small family farm based business that specialises in adding value to products derived from straw. This activity has culminated in a family of animal bedding and solid fuel products that are available nationally and further afield. Because the activities lie outside of mainstream agricultural activity, it can be difficult to justify projects at the outset to bankers, etc., since there is not a ‘norm’ to compare against. It has been with the help of County Kildare LEADER Partnership that we have been able to get a number of these projects off the ground. These projects have all been successful and are generating income and employment. It is certain that these developments would not have occurred without the support and mentoring of LEADER.”