4 MINUTE READ
Currently, I’m managing a 650-cow farm for the Finn family just outside Ballymahon, Co. Longford.
I’m from a small suckler farm in North Longford and started relief milking around home when I was still in school and realised the potential for a future career. I completed my leaving cert in 2014 and went on to complete the Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture in Ballyhaise. Then, I went on to complete Level 6 Certificate in Dairy Herd Management in Ballyhaise.
I completed two 3-month placements during the 2 years in Ballyhaise. Working on large dairy farms made me realise further that Dairying was the career for me. I went to Teagasc Moorepark for two years to complete the Level 7 Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management. This course consisted of mostly work placement alongside 3 days per month in Moorepark with the top researchers in the country.
I did 3 placements in this course:
- 10 months with Kevin Toomey in Cork.
- 6 months in Canterbury, New Zealand and
- 8 months with David Baker in Birr, Offaly.
As I already mentioned, I got to travel to New Zealand at the end of the first year of my dairy farm management course. Eight of us went at the time, but I was the only one that headed for the South Island. I always wanted to go to the South Island as farms are generally larger. I lived and worked on a 1300 cow farm outside Ashburton in Canterbury.
I was on the farm for the entire calving season and almost all of the breeding season before heading home to complete the course.
I loved every minute of New Zealand and if I wasn’t still in college at the time I’d have definitely stayed longer.
Differences between Ireland and New Zealand
Weather is obviously a big difference, but their winter and spring can be just as cold and wet as here. Hot summers come with downsides too. The farm I was on was completely irrigated for 5+ months of the year, with pivot irrigation.
At that time there were a lot less rules and regulations around nitrates in New Zealand than here, but that has started to change. Cows out-wintered on fodder beet so the only sheds on the farm were the calf shed and the milking parlour. The farming system is much the same as spring calving here. More progressive farmers here would have been bringing back New Zealand farmer’s ideas 20 or 30 years ago (low-cost grass based, spring calving, crossbreeding etc.)
I want to realise full potential of the farm I’m currently managing.
I’m currently exploring the option of a collaborative arrangement with the Finns, but it’s still early days and nothing is finalised.
I want to be milking my own cows in the short-term future. I’ll have 98 heifers put in calf (hopefully) this year. I’m hoping to lease a Dairy Farm to run in my own right within the next 5 years.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
A compact spring calving is very easy to run and very cost effective. Input costs are relatively low considering most of the feed is grazed grass. Diet feeders and 0-grazers make the system very complicated and takes a very high level of management to run efficiently.
If you would like to find out more about Cian, our farmbassador, you can see what he is up to on our Instagram. Cian uses BóPro vitamin enhanced teat spray in his 50-unit rotary parlour and has found it to give much better protection and moisturisation to his 650 cows in comparison to other teat sprays on the market.