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IGA Dairy Summer Tour – Producing milk on leased land

This year’s Irish Grasslands Dairy Summer Tour, focused on milk production on leased land visiting grass based dairy farms in Skeaghvasteen, Co. Kilkenny and Tullow, Co. Carlow on Tuesday July 25th.

With stocking rate increasing by approximately 10% since quota removal and one third of dairy farmers renting a third of their farms, leasing land to increase milk production was the focus of this year’s event. Not surprisingly, a record audience of over 600 dairy farmers from around the country attended the event.

Cathal and Grainne Moran farm at Curraghlane, Skeaghvasteen, Co. Kilkenny. Farming a total of 144 ha, just over half of the 120 ha milking platform is leased. This year’s overall stocking rate of 2.5 LU/ha includes 259 cows. In 2016, this black and white herd produced 450 kg milk solids per cow (4.30% fat; 3.67% protein). Cathal plans to increase this to 360 cows within two years with replacement heifers contract reared off farm.

Jamie and Lorraine Kealy are first generation farmers. Coming from a non-farming background, they purchased 12 ha of land while he worked as a building contractor. Jamie commenced milk production on a 26 ha fertile leased farm at Slaneyquarter, Grange, Tullow, Co. Carlow in the spring of 2014. The lease also included cubicle accommodation and a milking parlour.

The following year, Jamie leased another 10 ha across the road from a second lessor and he currently milks 94 cows stocked at 2.6 cows/ha on the milking platform. Jamie’s herd produced 530 kg milk solids per cow (4.47% fat; 3.70% protein) on 780 kg meal last year. He plans to increase the size of the herd to around 120 cows over the next couple of years.

Current performance

Kg MS/Cow 2.05
Protein % 3.77
Fat % 4.16
Milk Yield (L/Cow) 25.5


Common features of the host farms are the following:

  • The relationship that both hosts have with the owners of the land that they lease – both mentioned openness, communication and respect when asked about how they work with the owners of the leased land;
  • Their focus on improving soil and breeding the right cow – both farmers place huge emphasis on regular soil testing and planned fertiliser applications and believe in breeding highly fertile, high EBI cows to maximise the yield of grass utilised on their farms;
  • Their financial focus – both carefully plan cash flow on a monthly and multi-annual basis.

First Published 3 August 2017

Tagged with: Agribusiness All GII Dairy


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