How one farmer doubled cow numbers and milk output without any extra land
Doubling cow numbers and milk output in nine years without increasing land is no mean feat, but that is what Limerick farmer, Dermot O’Connor has achieved since he commenced farming in 2008.
How has he achieved his? By almost doubling the amount of grass grown on his farm in the same period.
This was the key message for the 200 strong crowd that attended the recent Grass 10 event on Dermot’s farm organised jointly by Teagasc and Kerry Agribusiness.
Dermot outlined how he had grown the herd since he started out in a milk production partnership with his father Tom in 2008 from 80 cows to the 172 strong herd that are being milked today.
This is quite a significant expansion especially when you consider that he was depopulated in 2015 due to TB.
Dermot won the FBD Young Farmer of the Year award in 2012 and in 2013 he addressed the Teagasc National Dairy Conference when he revealed his five-year plan which predicted that he would be milking 175 cows and growing 15t of grass dry matter by 2017, and this is exactly what he has done.
There has been a gradual increase in tonnes of grass grown per hectare on Dermot’s farm since he commenced farming.
The jump between 2016 and the predicted 15t that will be grown in 2017 (12t to 15t) looks quite stark, but when you consider that there was no herd on this farm for the last quarter of 2015 and the first five months of 2016, then you realise that this farm has been increasing the amount of grass it is capable of growing at a very steady pace.