Are you considering dairy farming?

By Seamus Nolan, dairy advisor, Teagasc Castlerea

Since the removal of milk quotas in 2015, there has been increased interest in milk production as a career amongst existing drystock farmers.

A number of new dairy farms have been established in non-traditional dairying areas – where there is not a strong tradition of milk production – in the last number of years.

What has driven these farmers to take such a big step?

The main driver has been the lack of income from the drystock sectors and the heavy reliance on support premia to maintain income.

In many cases, there has been an injection of youth into the farming operation – a son/daughter having completed agricultural college has come home to farm.

What are the key criteria to becoming a dairy farmer?

It is very important that you are good at what you do. A below average drystock farmer will more than likely be a below average dairy farmer.

It would be extremely important to spend time milking cows before any decision is made to convert. A transition to dairying is a long-term commitment, which will involve a significant capital outlay; you need to be sure you will like what you are letting yourself in for.

A reasonable block of dry land is another important requirement. A herd of 100 cows will require a milking block of around 36ha. Not all new entrants will milk 300 cows – many will be content with 70-100 cows.

Costs to convert are farm specific (depending on existing facilities), but could be from €2,000/cow to €4,000/cow.

Interested in a dairy farming?

Teagasc plans on running courses nationwide for people interested in converting to milk production. The course will involve visits to Moorepark and the Greenfield Dairy Farm.

If this is something that interests you, please contact your nearest Teagasc office to register your interest.