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Saturday 20 October 2018

'The new parlour will cut milking to two hours a day'

Oisin Gill
Oisin Gill

Ken Whelan

A new milking parlour is the next priority for Oisín Gill as he continues his redevelopment of the home dairy farm in Hollymount near Claremorris, Co Mayo.

The 33-year-old expects the new 26-unit parlour, which he says will cut milking times dramatically on the farm, to be in place by the end of the year once planning permission and his grant application are passed by the authorities.

"At the moment we are milking around six hours a day in the old parlour but when the new one is in place, milking will be down to an hour in the morning and a hour in the evening," he predicts.

At the same time, he is busy transforming his 150-strong home dairy herd from Holstein to Jersey crosses on the 130-acre farming enterprise.

It's what he describes as a "work in progress" and he expects to complete the changeover in about two years.

At the moment he still has 50 Holsteins but Jerseys are gradually changing the profile of the herd.

His thinking is simple: "The Holsteins are good for milk but the Jerseys are higher in the more valuable proteins and fats. We'll keep going and see what happens. I'll keep the remaining Holsteins until their breeding careers are finished."

The difference is volume terms works out in favour of the "long-legged Holsteins" who are averaging 28 litres, as against 23 litres, but it's the Jersey milk quality which is making the difference.

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He is currently receiving 30.5 c/l from Aurivo and he says he could "do with a lot more at the moment".

Oisín took over the farm from his late father Matt a few years ago, after completing his studies with a Green Cert from Mountbellew Agricultural College and a business degree from Galway IT.

"I don't think I'll be using the business degree but it is useful when it comes to doing the accounts on the farm," he comments.

There then followed the mandatory post-studies travel to the southern hemisphere.

"I went there for six months. My time in Australia was just for the craic but I worked hard on the farms I went to in New Zealand."

Whatever about the 'craic', the singleton - "I am single but looking" - learned enough at college and in New Zealand to embark on his ambitious farm plan at Hollymount, and in the process, has become one of the current Aurivo Focus farmers, specialising in grass measuring.

His siblings have taken different career options with brothers Conor (38), Matthew (36) and John (31) all engineers - "two civils and a mechanical" as Oisín puts it - while his eldest sister Niamh (39) took the IT route and is working in Swansea.

His younger sisters - Fionnuala (28), Alva (26) and the youngest Emer, have all followed in their mother Noirin's footsteps and are working as teachers at various midlands and southern locations.

But for Oisin the farm is the vocation.

"I am going to keep at it as best I can. I have been at it long enough now."

Off farm, Oisín's main interests are rugby, where he plays scrum-half for the Ballinrobe team and GAA - he has made a recent return to the local club.

When asked what he thinks of the county team's chances of finally lifting Sam this year, he is surprisingly underwhelmed, saying: "We'll see but the county team needs new blood."

In conversation with Ken Whelan


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