Attention to detail key to success on a Co. Tipperary dairy farm

Farming in the heart of the Golden Vale in New Inn, Co. Tipperary – an intensive dairy farming area – the McEnirys run a family partnership comprising of three families.

It is led by brothers Matty and Davey. Matty’s daughter Orla is the latest addition to the team, having completed her agriculture studies at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

The farm consists of two milking platforms with over 300 cows combined. The family supply Dairygold Co-op and focus on spring calving and maximising grass utilisation.

The main block consists of 68ha and is stocked at 3LU/ha (livestock units / hectare). A large portion of the main block was originally in tillage; a lot of work has gone into getting the soil indexes right in order to hit the target grass growth figures.

The second block is 50ha, which is home to the younger stock. Silage is also harvested from this ground. Average grass grown over the last year was 15t/ha (dry matter / hectare) and plans are in place to keep improving this through soil nutrient management.

Targets

Attention to detail is excellent and is a key attribute the McEnirys have. Planning and goals are clearly outlined, which is essential as there is a huge involvement from all of the family.

Matty’s wife Mairead handles all the administration and paperwork, which is an important role for any farm business.

Targets:
  • 3LU/ha;
  • +550kg/cow of milk solids;
  • 90% six-week calving (currently at 85%);
  • 550kg liveweight cow;
  • 500-700kg of concentrate input (weather permitting).

Currently, the herds are producing 540kg/cow of milk solids. The objective for the coming years is to have a more mature herd and increase solids output to 600kg/cow.

Teagasc and local advisor Sandra Hayes plays an important role through discussion groups; Matty and Davey are involved in the local Outrath group. Orla is in the 3C group; this is made up of a younger age profile, which offers a different prospective.

Sire selection

Key to success is to have a plan and the McEnirys work closely with the Munster Cattle Breeding Group to build their perfect herd. Munster offers a complete service from genetics, milk recording, herd health programmes and management advice.

To achieve the production and fertility targets, the team sit down with Munster’s Joe Tobin in December to review the previous year and to set out the goals for the coming season. Milk recording is central to this planning process, with data analysed for culling and herd improvement.

The plan is to stay black and white, as they feel they rank higher on EBI and are meeting their herd goals of high milk solids, excellent fertility and a durable cow.

The McEnirys also feel you get a better cull cow, a higher calf value and have a cow that will respond to concentrate when required. The bulls for this season are coming from the EBI All-Star Panel with a few daughter-proven bulls such as PHC and YKA as well.

Previously Matty and Davey did the AI themselves. But over the last two years, they’ve moved back to Munster’s technician service. This frees up more time to concentrate on heat detection and grassland management.

They use a 10-week AI programme with the last five weeks turning over to beef AI. The farmers use Angus and Hereford bulls predominantly; they give them a good mix of calf price, short gestation and easy calving.

Orla feels herd health played an important role over the last few years – especially with the herd more than doubling in size. Having a plan with targeted actions and following the vet consultation meeting with Munster was a huge help.

Work-life balance

For the McEnirys, getting the balance right between work and lifestyle is paramount. Milking responsibilities are rotated weekly to ensure adequate downtime to pursue other activities.

Matty is heavily involved with his local co-op Dairygold. He is a committee member as well as having a keen interest in the local GAA. Davey is involved with the local GAA club, while Orla is a member of the Tipperary camogie squad.

Farm walk

All roads lead to the Tipperary next week for one of the first farm walks of the season. It will be held in conjunction with Dairygold, Teagasc and the Munster Cattle Breeding Group.

The host is McEniry Farms from Outrath, New Inn, Co. Tipperary, and the farm walk will take place on Tuesday, April 10, at 11:00am.

More information

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