THE biggest change for former tillage farmer turned dairyman Edward Donovan is being "tied down" to the farm for seven days a week with milking.
Edward (37) and his father John decided to begin trading in the plough for the milking parlour in 2013 to allow him to give up his full-time job and return to farming.
Now, they're milking 69 cows on 87ha in Cloyne, Co Cork, with 37ha in grassland and 50ha in tillage. "Realistically I think it will go to all cows, even with the poorest milk price we'll keep going," said Edward with long-term aims to reach 200 cows by 2020.
He said earnings in tillage were sliding due to low prices and a reduction in single farm payments.
He said the changeover has not been any more challenging than they thought it would be, however, their grassland management has been a steep learning curve.
Most of the 65 new entrants supplying 350,000 litres to Dairygold have come from suckler or beef farming, have on average 60 cows and are in their late 30s to early 40s, according to figures compiled by Billy Cronin of Dairygold Co-op which staged the farm walk on the Donovan farm.
Adrian O'Callaghan, the Dairygold/Teagasc programme advisor, said the age profile of those choosing to convert has been slightly higher than expected.
"Farmers travelled for 40 or 50 miles to see how Edward had made the swap," said Mr O'Callaghan.
"There are a lot of beef and tillage farmers out there who may be still considering it. They might just want to see where the tillage and milk price are going."