With 35ha of good Dromcollogher land in the milking block, John Molyneaux is making the very best of it. John and his wife Martha are milking 102 cows and have the heifers contract reared. The calves go at the end of April and come back in October of the following year. A small outblock of 7.2ha is used for a three-cut red clover silage system.

John’s motto is to keep things simple and reduce the workload as much as possible. He used to rent land for heifers and silage, but says getting them contract reared has been a massive labour-saver.

The milking platform is stocked at 2.9 cows/ha, while the overall stocking rate is 2.4 cows/ha. Facilities are good, with plenty of slurry storage and cubicle spaces.

The cows are milked in a 16-unit parlour and a new automatic calf feeder was installed in an old slatted beef shed last spring which has been another big labour saver he says.

Lessons learned during John’s tenure as a Kerry Agribusiness/Teagasc monitor farmer are still being practiced. He soil samples the farm every year and at present, all the farm is at index three and four for P and K with an average soil pH of 6.2. He has no chemical phosphorus allowance, so slurry is targeted to low P fields and only protected urea is spread.

John has oversown clover on one-third of the farm, but readily admits that there isn’t clover present on one third of the farm.

“Getting clover established is a challenge. I oversowed some last year and also reduced nitrogen on the reseeds, but it’s not easy to get it established. My goal is to have it everywhere inside the next five years and to spread no more than 200kg N/ha. I’m currently spreading one unit of N per day on the grass only fields and half that where there is clover,” John says.

A total of 48 grass walks were completed last year and the farm grew an average of 13t DM/ha last year. Drought in summer can often be an issue, with the farm prone to burning up.

John has been crossbreeding with Jersey for the last 20 years, initially for calving ease in heifers, but then for production, fertility and an easy care cow. Herd EBI is €182 and the herd delivered 509kg MS/cow last year from 850kg of meal.