Denis and Ruth O’Leary and their family farm in Upper Cloghroe, Co Cork. The farm manager, David Cusack, has worked on the farm for the last 35 years.

The O’Learys are farming here since 1985 and Denis returned home from Rockwell College in 1997.

At that time, his parents were farming a mixed enterprise of a 550-sow breeding unit and milking 70 dairy cows. In 2005, Denis entered a partnership with his parents. When his dad retired in 2015, the farm exited pig production and increased cow numbers from 100 to 135 in 2022.

The O’Learys have recently rented an additional 70 acres adjoining the milking platform and hope to grow cow numbers to 180 over the next two years.

Denis believes the additional land will future-proof the business, allowing them to increase cow numbers at a reduced stocking rate.

The focus on breeding is really impressive on this farm. The herd is pedigree registered with an EBI of €236, placing the herd in the top 1% nationally.

There is a split of €73 for milk and €110 for fertility.

Denis’s breeding criteria in choosing bulls is for an EBI greater than €120 for fertility, +.15 for protein and .25 for fat. The EBI of his replacement stock is €275.

The whole herd is genome-tested and Denis uses this information to make decisions on breeding and culling. Denis says the ideal cow for the farm is 600kg liveweight producing 600kg milk solids off a maximum of 1.2t of meal per cow.

Denis believes that there are five main pillars to dairy farming: breeding, feeding, herd health, environment and work-life balance. While life is busy on the farm and at home with three children, he is very involved in his local rugby and GAA clubs training underage teams.

Some of the farm investments over the last few years include construction of a 16-unit milking parlour, installation of a bulk tank, cluster cleanse, dribble bar in 2021 and GPS system to make spreading fertiliser more efficient.

An automatic milking machine wash is used, with one in four milkings being a hot wash with a temperature of 73O C. The plant is rinsed with 300 litres of cold water and 225 litres used for the detergent cycle.

Autosan Blue is the detergent used with two descale washes per week using Supercleen acid. The same cleaning products are used for the bulk milk tank.