'We aim for four cuts of red clover silage each year'
Dairy farmer Brendan Gildea reckons there is a "fantastic opportunity for conventional tillage farmers to switch to organic", and he believes the fodder shortages resulting from the recent drought could convince people to make the change.
Brendan, who farms in Dunmore, just outside of Tuam in Co Galway, buys organic fodder from tillage farmers in the east of the country, but has had to import this year.
"Unfortunately, there is a very short supply of Irish organic grains with no volume available here since February so I have had to import," he says.
"There is a fantastic opportunity out there for conventional tillage farmers to consider organic farming, and it would not only provide opportunities for them but also for Irish organic dairy farmers.
"They seem hard to convince but maybe this year might encourage some of them to convert, we certainly need the goods."
Brendan himself switched in 2007. Then, he was milking 70 cows with one robot, increasing to 90 cows and two robots in 2010. Now he has 200 cows in the herd milking 170 year-round with three A4 Lely robots.
Brendan credits the quality of his pedigree Holstein/Friesian herd as he averages 8,500litres per cow.
"When I converted to organic the yield did fall," he says. "However with some expert advice, experience and getting the land right I have managed to get the yields back up to a level that I am happy with.