When the alarm goes off on Christmas Day, Trevor might feel like hitting the snooze button and rolling over, but 25 December is no different to 25 June for him and his herd of pedigree Holsteins.

“Arah, look, getting up on Christmas morning is fine, but you could always do with another hour or three in the bed… You want to get out as early as you can, get the milking done, get the jobs out of the way and try to take it easy after that. The evening milking can be a bit trickier sometimes,” Trevor jokes.

Christmas Day is, in essence, a day no different to another day on this immaculately clean and meticulously organised farmyard.

“I milk, I feed the calves, the cows, scrape the slats and do the cubicles. I’d maybe stop short at doing a bit of AI (artificial insemination) but that’s really it. That’s the game we’re in.”

Trevor farms in partnership with his uncle David Boyd who, along his brother Kenneth, established the Glaslough pedigree herd of black and white cows.

Success has come over the years, including a win at the Bailey’s Cow in 2018. The milk is supplied to Lakeland Dairies.

For the nephew, the focus is less about pedigree and more about performance, but he does see the benefit of rosettes.

“My uncles were heavily involved in showing cattle all over the country. They also imported cattle from Canada and got into the best genetics they could. What motivates me is performance, I suppose… [both] financially and the herd itself.

"I want to try and make everything better. I’m always trying to get a herd of cows that I’m happy with it [because] there are always improvements to be made. I'm striving for a herd of productive pedigree Holstein cows that are easily managed."

Liquid milk: a dying breed?

Trevor, at just 33 years old, is a young farmer on his birth cert and in his mentality. His desire to improve his herd’s performance, grow more grass and build a future for himself are all admirable - but liquid milk is perceived to be something of a dying breed.

Calving all year around to produce milk in both spring and summer is an expensive and labour-intensive system with no real downtime. Trevor says it’s all about the maths.

Farming 150 acres, half-rented, and a 54-acre milking platform, Trevor has 95 cows in the herd with approximately 75 going through the parlour the same day as Santa Claus arrives.

“This has been a tough year and last year wasn’t a normal either on milk price, but the liquid system works for us. We’re tight on ground around the parlour, so we have to make the most of what we have at our disposal. If the costs can be managed right, the months over the winter are often the most profitable of the year."

The herd performance on the farm is currently at 4.17% fat and 3.24% protein, with an average yield per cow of 9,292kg of milk.

The cows produce 692kg of milk solids off 2.5t of concentrates fed. The herd's somatic cell count is 87,000.

“I still think there’s room for the liquid milk farmer. It’s harder work, as you’re at it all the time; but if you’re set up for it, it can work.”

Cows on the big screen

As well as being famous cows in the showring, the Glaslough herd also had one special lady on the silver screen.

One of the herd’s cows was chosen to star in the mid-noughties cult horror classic, Shrooms, which was filmed in Ireland. The movie follows US visitors to Ireland, who try some mind-altering substances in a forest.

Filmed in the surrounds of the drumlins of Cavan and Monaghan, a talking cow was required for one scene.

Clearly not a real talking cow, the casting call went out a beautiful and halter-trained cow to stand still while a happy US tourist encounters it. In the scene, one of the character converses with the cow, which came from the Glaslough herd.

“She was a great cow. We had taken her to Belgium for a show before and she won a lot for us,” Trevor’s uncle David Boyd explains. “We got a call one day looking for a cow for the movie that would stand still and would look the part… we were happy to help out.”

Do they still breed from her offspring?

“We do, aye, yeah but none of those can talk, we don’t think,” Trevor’s other uncle Kenneth says.

The future

As a young and progressive farmer, does Keith see any roadblocks in the way from continuing the farming into the future?

“It’s a challenge. It’s always a challenge. We’re OK on the [nitrates] derogation for now, but that’s because we’re renting land. If that was to go, we’d be in a different scenario altogether. Very hard choices would have to be made then.

“Overall, I do enjoy it. I’ve always had the interest and the love for the cows, and I want to keep that going and see where it can take us.”

While Trevor is focused on constantly improving the farm and driving efficiency gains, his asks for 2024 are simple.

“Touching 30 degrees in the second week of May for silage, a decent milk price and costs to come down a little would be nice as well.”