Eugene Fitzpatrick is farming at Lisryan, Co Longford. Lisryan is a long way from Texas where Eugene worked for a time on some large beef ranches before he started milking cows.

His experience in the US made him question beef farming in Ireland and with a passion for cows he came home from the US in 2002.

Gradually, he started phasing out the sucklers, investing in the farm, and buying milk quota to allow him to go dairy farming.

Supplying Lakeland Dairies, he was able to get the opportunity to buy enough quota to get established.

Starting off with an eight-unit parlour he has since moved to a 14-unit parlour. In 2020, he was milking 134 cows and, today, he is milking 142 cows farming 96ha in total, with 46ha that the cows can walk to.

While still relatively new there has been significant development on this farm with cubicle sheds, slurry storage, open sheds and a purpose-built calf shed.

All of this development came when it was an expensive time to invest in dairy farming. Starting out Eugene had to buy milk quota as well as invest in buildings, grassland, fencing and roadways, etc. Eugene’s aim is to develop a sustainable farming operation based on compact calving to grass.

Land is good quality, free-draining and capable of producing lots of grass during a long grazing season. Lifestyle and spending time with family is important to Eugene and to do this he has plenty of help he can call on when needed. This year, he has contract milkers with help in the spring from a lady who reared the calves.

Lakeland Dairies suppliers Eugene and Deirdre Fitzpatrick with Ruth and Conor at Lisryan, Co Longford. \ Dora Kazmierak

All slurry is applied using a dribble bar which Eugene recently invested in. Over 80% of the slurry is applied in spring when growth is taking off.

Soil analysis allows him to tackle low phosphorus and potassium paddocks with slurry.

Protected urea is used. All the basics for good grazing are in place with roadways, multiple gaps and clover in all new reseeds.

Grass is measured weekly and PastureBase is used to bring the results together.

Sexed semen was used on the maiden heifers and Eugene reckons conception rates will be good enough.

He said the timing of AI is more important with the sexed product and Eugene would suggest at least 12 hours post standing heat. Herd EBI is €147 and 2021 calves are up to €189.

Eugene is farming with his wife, Deirdre, who works off farm and they have two children, Ruth and Conor. Actively involved in his local Grass Roots Discussion Group, Eugene is also involved locally in GAA, development committees and also recently in two local charities, Breffini Challenge Arva and the Hooves for Hospice charity.