Case Study: Never going back to year-round calving
Despite being a somewhat reluctant convert from liquid milk to the seasonal spring milk system, the last 12 months have made up Elton Griffin's mind for good.
"Thank God we weren't trying to get milk out of cows last winter. The cows just weren't up for it coming off the year that they had," said the Carrigrohane farmer, who milks 200 cows along with his brother, Michael, about seven miles west of Cork city centre.
The brothers had been supplying milk into the liquid milk market around Cork for over 30 years before they made the switch to 100pc spring calving last year.
"Our dad had a milk round based out of Mayfield in the city before we moved out here, but we were always heavily involved in the whole liquid milk scene," said Elton, who served on several liquid milk producer committees at local and national level.
However, over the last number of years, the Griffins have seen many of their neighbours switch to spring calving systems, and Elton is expecting more to go the same way.
"My brother was actually keener to change over than I was. I suppose the tradition and the whole social scene that goes with being involved in the politics of the business down through the years prevented me from seriously considering the alternative.
"There was great camaraderie among producers but you could feel the confidence going out of the group over the last number of years," he said.
Through his discussion group, Elton was also getting more familiar with the lifestyle and returns that were available in a seasonal system.