Husband-and-wife dairy duo come up with some simple steps to limit their working day

Karol Kissane, Asdee;, John Joe Dineen, Kerry Agri Business; Majella Moloney, Teagasc Kerry/ Limerick Regional Manager; Pat Rodgers, Kerry Agri Business and Dr Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer.
Karol Kissane, Asdee;, John Joe Dineen, Kerry Agri Business; Majella Moloney, Teagasc Kerry/ Limerick Regional Manager; Pat Rodgers, Kerry Agri Business and Dr Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer.
File photo

A husband-and-wife dairy duo has come up with some simple steps to limit their working day to a strict time-frame every day.

Caitríona and Edmond McHugh from Co Westmeath are a progressive farming couple who value their time.

The McHughs exited milking following an outbreak of lepto on the farm in 2006. When quotas were abolished, they returned to dairying.

Edmond previously worked off-farm in the construction sector while Caitríona has had a successful career in human resources.

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The McHughs have a start time and finish time to their day - 7.30am to 6pm. Everything is done in that time, outside of the calving and breeding seasons.

Contractors do much of the work and their heifers are now contract reared.

"Before, Edmond wouldn't get to see the 9pm news, now he can the 6pm news," Caitríona joked to the Teagasc dairy conference.

"The biggest inroad we have made to labour was in 2018 when we started contact-rearing heifers. We thought we were going to get land… but that (land) fell through."

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Overstocked

This left them overstocked, so they looked to contract rearing.

"We wanted good men because they (the heifers) are the future of our farm," Caitríona said.

Thirty suck calves went to Co Roscommon in 2018 and again in 2019 with the in-calf heifers returned prior to calving.

"With contract rearing, you just say goodbye to so much work. The workload goes down the road with the heifers in that lorry," Caitríona said.

Contractors are also used for silage, fertiliser and slurry, with the heavy workload on the farm being confined to the calving and breeding seasons.

Finally, Caitríona said an integral part of her day is having defined milling times.

"We milk at 4pm. At 3.45, drop whatever you're doing and go to the parlour," she said. "You need to be in the parlour fresh. There's no point going into the parlour exhausted to do a two-hour shift."

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