Converting to dairy: New Entrant video
Eoin O’Riordan, Farm Development Manager in Laois/Offaly recently met with Pat Walsh from Ballyfin, Co. Laois to discuss his motivation for converting from suckling to dairying in 2018 and also to hear what lessons Pat has learned so far that may be of benefit to anyone considering a similar move.
Pat’s main reason for converting to dairying was to try to generate an improved income from the farm and to make it more viable long-term for the next generation.
He approached Glanbia in mid-2017 which gave him sufficient time to get accounts set up and become familiar with the various requirements from a Milk Quality & Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme perspective. He also applied to put a percentage of his milk into a Fixed Milk Price Scheme which gave him some security in a volatile milk price environment.
He sourced a mix of British Friesian and Jersey cross maiden heifers during 2017. Currently milking 73 cows, Pat has a sufficient grazing platform to expand cow numbers in the future.
Pat decided to invest in a robotic milking system due to the potential savings in labour costs and thus far, he is satisfied that this was the correct decision to make for him.
Considerable investment was made in extending an existing shed to install cubicles, and also in roadways, paddocks and water. The investment in roadways was called out by Pat as being higher than anticipated. One error that Pat made was when setting up the grazing system for the robot; he should have designed larger paddocks with multiple access points and no internal boundaries. He is currently in the process of rectifying this.
Pat advised that it is vital to get an independent view in terms of design and layout when setting up a dairy unit due to the large investment being undertaken.
First Published 17 July 2018