Over 350 farmers attended a farm walk organised by Teagasc and Aurivo on the farm of Kevin Moran, Caherlistrane, Co Galway on Friday.

Kevin, who is former student of the year and is a current Nuffield scholar, leased 35 hectares from his uncle in 2013. Now 22, Kevin is in his third year of dairy farming and is currently milking 91 cows and has all his youngstock contract-reared.

The key message from the walk was the importance of measuring and managing, from milk solids produced to grass grown and cash flow. Kevin said when he first went looking for money to buy his herd of cows, he was refused by the bank nine times.

“This didn’t put me off, it just meant that I had to keep tweaking my plan to get it to work for me and for the bank to back me,” Kevin said.

They eventually did and Kevin got the opportunity to lease the farm, which required significant investment in facilities and infrastructure. He says he made mistakes when buying cows as he didn’t put enough emphasis on breeding for milk solids. As a result, improving the genetics of his herd is something he is working on. This year he used purebred Jersey bulls on 80% of his herd.

When asked how he is going to cope in the current downturn he says he is currently on target, having cut most of his costs back by about 10% on 2014 figures either by buying less or doing without.

“Costs I haven’t cut back on were soil fertility and genetics, because I think there’s a long-term gain to be made in both of these areas. I spread two bags per acre of 10:10:20 in March as most of the farm is at Index 2.”

The crowd heard Vincent Griffith from Aurivo speak about grass and grazing management. Vincent said that the Moran farm has grown 9.5t of grass per hectare to date, including the first- and second-cut silage.

Read a full report on this farm walk in next week’s Irish Farmers Journal.