I milk: “A 400 spring calving crossbred dairy herd through a 60-unit rotary parlour on 320ac owned and 125ac rented in partnership with my father Padraig and mother Ena. Our herd was traditionally British Friesian and we find the 25% Jersey a nice cross now.”

Mark Collins carrying out evening milking in his new 60-unit rotary milking parlour at Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary. \ Odhran Ducie

Breeding: “We started breeding on 1 May and will finish on 11 July. We do 100% AI ourselves, use sexed dairy semen for the first three weeks and everything after that is beef AI. The sexed semen allows us to breed replacements from our better cows and increase genetic gain as well as reducing the number of cows we breed to dairy. Beef and bull calves are sold direct off farm and all replacements are contract reared before coming back in calf at 20 months old.”

Mark says he has been happy with cow milk performance at grass with the herd now just off peak milk. \ Odhran Ducie

Milk: “We’re happy with milk performance at the moment, just off peak. Our land would dry out later than most but we extended a round and rain came at just the right time. We supply to Callan Co-op which goes to Glanbia. The increase in milk price is well needed in the year that’s in it.”

Mark with Kelly the sheep dog set to bring in cows for evening milking. \ Odhran Ducie

Environment: “We’ve sown our first multispecies sward, laid hedgerows, switched to all protected urea and use all low emission slurry spreading (LESS). Focusing on the high EBI and sexed semen has its environmental benefits as well. Ireland is one of the best in the world when it comes to sustainable dairy. It’s best for the cow, best for the man, good environmentally and good for the pocket.”

Mark has planted approximately 400m of whitethorn hedge over the last couple of years. \ Odhran Ducie

YouTube: “I enjoy showing people how we farm on YouTube under ‘MC Milking It’ and I’m proud of what we do. There’s a disconnect between the consumer and where food comes from and I’m trying to help address that.”

Read more

My Farming Week: Karol Devaney, Barnaribbon, Drumcliffe, Co Sligo