Expansion and partnership the focus of dairy open day tomorrow

Brockna Dairies, owned by the Hanbidge family from Co. Wicklow, is hosting an open day tomorrow (Thursday, July 19) from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

Alan Hanbidge, his wife Rosemary along with their four children call Brockna Dairies home. With succession-planning in mind, Alan went into partnership with his son Gordon and daughter Linda in 2015.

The end of quotas and the introduction of additional funding for young farmers under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) represented added incentives to form a succession partnership and double the herd size to 110 cows over a three-year period.

The ‘Full Monty’ Herd

Running a herd of mostly pedigree Montbeliardes (montys) on the hills close to the town of Baltinglass in west Wicklow, the Glanbia suppliers operate a winter milk system with a spring and autumn calving herd – focusing on maximising output from grass.

The Hanbidges had high numbers of heifer calves born in 2013 and 2014, allowing cow numbers to be increased organically between 2015 and 2017.

The flip-side of this was that extra housing and a new parlour were required; a new parlour was installed, with the help of a TAMS grant, in 2015.

Like much of the land in the area, the farmyard is on a sloping hill and so the parlour is at a split-level – with the dairy located above the parlour.

Alan explained that they were short on winter accommodation; so when TAMS II opened, the family applied for grant-aid on a new seven-bay cubicle house.

The shed was finished in late December 2017 and the Hanbidges installed EASYFIX cubicles, with the double foam inter-locking mattresses.

Cubicles were installed with 3ft 9in spacing and an EASYFIX brisket board.

Commenting on the cubicles, Alan said: “The space is plenty in them, even for some of the big monty cows”.

As well as this, EASYFIX scratchers were installed on every second cubicle.

Partnership plans

Linda, who previously worked as a make-up artist, came home to live on the farm in 2011.

She now lives in her grandparents home house with her husband George and two daughters Zoe (three) and Elsie (nine months). Linda outlined that the family “saw it as important to be in a good position to gradually take over the reins”.

Zoe and Elsie are the seventh generation of the family to live on the farm.

Linda used the four years pre-quota removal to get up to speed on farm management. She now acts as an effective financial controller. She is in charge of the buying and selling, as well as the breeding and some of the AI.

Alan still does much of the day-to-day management, as Gordon works part-time in Carlow.

“I have a bit of flexibility with the job and I am here full-time for calving,” Gordon outlined.

As Gordon and Linda will continue in partnership after Alan retires, they saw the succession partnership as a logical step.

“We are the kind of family that sits around the kitchen table to discuss things, so it suited us I suppose. But at the end of the day, daddy is still the boss,” Linda added.

There will be representatives at the event from:
  • EASYFIX;
  • Bank of Ireland;
  • Allen Dairy Services (Dairymater dealer);
  • Dairypower;
  • The Montbeliarde Society.

All of these representatives will be available to discuss topics regarding the expansion of an existing dairy enterprise, as well as issues arising as a result of someone becoming a new dairy entrant.

The dairy open day will take place at Brockna Dairies, Kiltegan, Co. Wicklow (W91 R6Y5). More information on the open day is available on the EASYFIX website.