Open day looks at extremes
A low-cost partnership switching to cross-bred cows and a high-input Holstein breeder within five miles of each other were the focus for last week's successful Irish Grassland Association open day.
The morning session was held on the farm operated by neighbouring farmers Alf McGlew and Andrew Purcell.
Their partnership farm has rapidly built up its cow numbers and 241 are now being milked.
Both men talked positively about the benefits of the 50:50 partnership, and Mr Purcell said that his partner's insistence that they leased extra land and quota a number of years ago helped him avoid making "what would've been the biggest mistake of my farming life".
The men credited Teagasc's Ben Roche for his input in helping set out the parameters of the partnership. However, Mr Purcell did admit being dismayed with their first meeting.
"His initial question was 'so lads, how are we going to split this up?'" said Mr Purcell. "I thought this was very negative but, in hindsight, it was a very practical approach."
Mr McGlew also spoke of the amount of paperwork involved.
"It takes about 4-6 months of paperwork and discussions before you ever put on a cluster," he said. "It can be a bit of a pain, but I realise now that it's all worthwhile."