Why this dairy farmer is going against the grain and reducing cow numbers
My week: John Sheridan
Published 17/11/2016 | 17:00
John Sheridan is considering a gradual reduction in his dairy herd numbers at his farm in Mostrim in Co Longford in a bid to keep costs down and his slim profits "tipping over".
"Lakeland say the milk price will be 32c/l next February but I'll go back from of 78 Friesians to between 66 and 68 anyway to save on feed and grass and we will see how the milk price fares next year. When there is a downturn, it is wise to cut back.
"With fewer cows you have more grass and at the moment you are probably better off cutting back, despite what Teagasc may say. That's the way it is this year and we will see how things work out," he adds.
The middle lad of nine children, John originally trained as an electrician working the buildings sites around London in the 1980s and returned to Longford in 1989 to take over the family farm from a brother who wanted a holiday.
He agreed to do a year on the farm but when the brother showed no signs or intentions of returning after four years, his dad signed over the farm to him.
He describes the land at Mostrim as "mixed to good" which took some "learning and getting used to" when he returned home to become a full-time farmer.
The 52-year-old started off milking 18 cows - alongside a beef enterprise - and gradually built up the herd on the 100ac home farm to the level it is today.
He rents a further 25 acres to rear his newly-born heifers, as well as opting for some bed and breakfast arrangements for his younger animals.