‘Focus on the areas that produce money; not areas like concrete that consume it’

The Irish Grassland Association (IGA) Dairy Summer Tour live discussion – which was hosted by AgriLand – featured David Kerr from Ballyfin, Co. Laois; Henry Walsh, who farms in Oranmore, Co. Galway; and Conor Creedon, from Rathmore, Co. Kerry.

Three excellent dairy farmers in their own right, IGA Dairy Committee chairman, Stuart Childs – who facilitated the event – asked what advice each of them would have for young, enthusiast farmers starting out.

David mentioned the importance of education and the benefit of travelling if the opportunity arose.

“I would say agricultural education which is mandatory now anyway. Travel if you can and work abroad, not necessarily in agriculture either. If you are coming back into farming find yourself a good mentor,” he said.

Henry, who farms in partnership with his son Enda, noted: “Be sure it’s your calling; too many people in this country inherit farms and choose dairying as a career, but it’s not truly their choice.

“Early in your career be very careful on capital expenditure. Be sure you spend whatever available resources you have on returning assets.

“These are the soil, soil fertility, cow type, and focus on the areas that are producing money, not the areas that – like concrete – consume money,” the Galway man explained.

Following on from Henry, Conor outlined the importance of soil fertility to grow grass and the right cow type to eat that grass and produce milk.

“If you have limited resources, put it into the stock and soil fertility. You have to have soil fertility to grow the grass and then you have to have the cow to convert that grass into milk solids.

“Make sure if you are starting out that you are buying a cow that is capable of eating grass and converting it to milk solids.

“I wouldn’t compromise on the cow; that’s going to be the basis of your herd for the next 20, 30 or 40 years,” he concluded.