Kilkenny man giving up lorry driving and building up a 116-cow dairy herd from scratch
TAKING over a family farm that has been leased is a gradual process, but building up a dairy herd from scratch takes entrepreneurial nerve.
It's a punt that has paid off for Kilkenny farmer Michael Norton whose herd is producing 500,000 litres of milk for the Glanbia plant in Ballyragget.
There are plans to up this to 700,000 litres over the next few years.
Make your mind up time for Michael came in 2006 when his father Pascal decided to retire from farming, de-stock the 60ha home farm and lease the land.
Michael, who was working as a lorry driver at the time for companies including Bulmers, Irish Rail and Irish Cement, decided to lease a portion of the home farm to keep the family's farming tradition going.
Over the following five years, he leased back the remainder of the land.
"My dad had been considering retiring but when they put the motorway through the farm that made up his mind. I told him I would lease part of the land and put some cows on it and he said if that's what you want go for it."
He took a lease on the 27ha near the home; 33ha on the other side of the motorway was leased for five years to another farmer.