'Thank God for the grass we have in Ireland'
My week: Michael Moloney
Michael Moloney is just back from a co-op trip to Helsinki where dairy farmers work under the various burdens of high borrowings, bad weather, no grass and production costs running at 45c/l for a return of 35c/l .
"Thank God for the grass we have in Ireland and thank God we don't have to endure the Finnish winters," Michael remarks with no little relief in his voice.
"It was an interesting trip. Twenty three of us went to Finland and were hosted by the Valeo Co-Op. The average herd size in Finland is 38 cows but a lot of the herds are between 10-15 cows housed in cow byres.
"We visited two much larger farms. One was a state-of-the-art dairy job which cost €1.2m to kit out.
"These trips are like a three-day farming discussion group and are very informative," he added.
Michael, who is rising 59 years, runs a Freisian-Holstien herd with some Jersey crosses at the 125-acre family farm in Carlow. The herd has a production level of 16.5 litres per cow with 3.5pc proteins and 4.2pc fats.
He describes the land, which has been in the Moloney family for three generations as "light granite land".
"We seem to have a micro-climate down here. We have droughts from time to time and the moisture holding capacity of the soil is very low," he says.