From a dairy farm in Co Laois, John Farrell travelled to New Zealand to see something different and step outside of his comfort zone.

Currently working on a dairy farm in the most southerly part of the country, he told us about his placement so far.

“The farm is a 770-cow spring-calving dairy farm on 300ha, with a 100ha run-off block for the replacement stock. The milking stock is broken up into four different herds of around 250 cows, with the fourth herd designated for lame cows and cows under treatment.”


“The work is rostered with six days on and two off, with three people working at all times. The roster is broken down into three days.

"The first day starts at 7am doing work outside of milking, such as mowing paddocks, spraying or moving cows to different paddocks. Milking is the task on the second day, with the cups on the cows at 4.30am. Milking usually takes four hours.

Third year UCD agricultural science student John Farrell is on college placement in New Zealand.

"On the third day, it is your responsibility to get the cows in. After the three days, the cycle repeats until the end of the six working days.”


“The farm uses a satellite that passes over the farm on a daily basis and informs us of the cover for each paddock. This is then viewed in the office and the grazings for the next three days are picked.

"Grass growth is averaging around 58kg DM/ha a day, with the cows on a 21-day rotation. The paddocks are around 4.5ha to 5.5ha [in size] and the cows are given the entire paddock for 24 hours. When the grass growth drops, they are buffer fed after the morning milking.

"Each herd is given 1t of silage and half a tonne of palm kernel and another half a tonne of water.”

Social aspect

“There is a good social aspect in the area. The young farmers is an organisation similar to Macra and they often organise events such as tag rugby, surfing and social nights. They allow you to take a step away from the farm in the evenings and socialise with like-minded people.”