Farming in the hurling stronghold of Ballyhea near Ennis in Clare, the Carrigg farm is fragmented. Seán explains that there are eight pieces of ground in total between owned and leased blocks. The herd of 82 cows is grazing 55ac of good-quality, free-draining land.
Once again, the farmyard and grazing infrastructure are impeccable, with a place for everything and everything in its place.
An expert at selective dry cow therapy, Sean says he could have used sealer on 70% to 80% of the cows last winter, but decided to only do 40%, as the antibiotics tubes were going to go out of date.
He looks at two years of milk recording data and any cow with a test above 200,000 is ruled out straight away. He does seven rounds of milk recording annually and any cow with a reading 100,000 is looked at closely.
Seán is very strict on milking protocol and takes extra effort to make sure that all cows are milked out properly at each milking.
Cows are cleaned, stripped, dipped and wiped before milking. The results speak for themselves, with an average SCC last year of just 56,000.
Last year, the herd sold just over 480kg MS/cow from a total of 1.2t of meal per cow. Herd EBI is high at €179, on average, and all cows in the herd are genotyped.
The average EBI of the team of bulls used this year was €321 and most of these bulls were genomically selected.
The herd is fully closed and surplus replacements are sold either as in-calf heifers or calves.
Seán says his priority is firstly to fully feed the cows and to then feed them cheaply, usually off grass.
Surplus bales and high-quality silage are fed at the shoulders of the year, as stocking rate is high at 3.7 cows/ha. Seán reseeds some fields every year and incorporates clover as a means of reducing fertiliser usage.
Average grass growth for last year was 13t DM/ha. The varieties he uses when reseeding are Drumbo, Abergain and Aberchoice. A new milking parlour was constructed in 2011 with 14 units.
Seán plans to add on another 30 cubicles to the cow shed, which will increase total housing on the farm.
He is helped out on the farm by his parents, PJ and Mary, wife, Siobhan, and sons, Niall and Evan.