I farm: “80ac of tillage and 340ac of grassland in partnership with my parents Billy and Olga. We were previously a suckler and tillage farm, but now keep 240 dairy cows. The land under tillage has been reducing over the years as we expand the dairy herd. With a bit of planning and good management, we should be fine for derogation.”

Cows: “This year, we will be calving down 240 cows. There’s a further 75 weanlings that will be replacement heifers next year. The idea is to grow the herd to 300 cows if we can stay below the 220kg of nitrogen limit. Our herd is a high-EBI black and white herd, with an EBI rating of €215.”

Calving: “Is starting mid-January with about 100 cows in the first 12 days, as I synchronized heifers and got a great result. I will have cows calved prior to the heifers, because I found last year that it helps with training the heifers onto the rotary parlour.”

Tillage: “It was a mixed year with weather – we had five different stages of planting when the weather broke. We got the malting barley in at the end of February last year and it did quite well, with yields of 3.5t/ac.”

Award: “We have our own combine and we try to only cut it when it’s ripe. We were happy with the crop, but price is always a factor. We won the regional award with Dairygold for malting barley in 2023.”

Fodder rape: “We didn’t plant any winter crops this year, as we have fodder rape in all the tillage fields suitable for the crop, as some fields have to be left in stubble. Some of that is now grazed and the dry cows are grazing the remainder before calving.”

Straw: “We are all straw-bedded here, so we use all our own straw for that. Getting the cows out on the rape by day allows us to get them bedded with the straw blower. The cows come in a night then for silage and minerals.”