Farming can present challenges and nobody knows this better than Clare’s Jim Garry. The Ballynacally farmer was riddled with poor herd health and poor fertility for years, before eventually identifying high molybdenum in soils as the cause. Since rectifying the problem by adding additional copper to the diet, the herd and the Garry family are now thriving.

Jim is milking 76 cows on a 33.2ha dry and free draining farm with 24.54ha in the milking block giving a stocking rate of 3.1 cows/ha. Jim has been measuring grass since 1998 and was one of the first Grass Watch farmers on the Irish Farmers Journal programme. The farm grows an average of 16t DM/ha and Jim will measure grass every four days during the high growth periods.

The herd delivered 405kg MS/cow in 2021 from 875kg of meal per cow and Jim says they’re on track to deliver 440kg MS/cow this season. Heifers are being contract reared on a farm in Tipperary and so the only stock Jim has to look after are the cows. The herd EBI is impressive at €195 on average. An outfarm is used for growing silage with three cuts taken.

Like many of the other farmers the judges visited, Jim is on a clover establishment programme with 15% of the farm oversown this year. This land didn’t get any chemical nitrogen after sowing, only one bag/acre of 0:7:30. The fields with good clover established get half rate of nitrogen from May onwards. Jim used a quad and fertiliser spreader to sow the clover last year, but used a Guttler machine this year.

Jim likes to start early in the morning, going for cows at 5:15am and again at 4:30pm in the evening. The yard is spotless. He recently made a big investment in a calving and calf shed – all under the one roof in an impressive and well-designed building.

The next project is the milking parlour with plans to replace the existing six unit with an eight-unit double-up machine that will sit under the existing roof. Jim has already lengthened the pit to cater for the extra units.

While the herd EBI is good, Jim is aiming to improve herd genetics further by being more selective in what cows he breeds replacements from.

This means using more beef AI on cows he doesn’t want replacements from. The maiden heifers were synchronised this year and bred to sexed semen, where Jim is hoping to get 12 live heifer calves from the 20 heifers.