A Week in the Life of an Irish Dairy Farmer

A Week in the Life of an Irish Dairy Farmer

Nathanael McCollum speaks to Peter McCann about breeding pedigree Holsteins, showing dairy cows and improving milk prices.
I farm: “Pedigree Holstein dairy cows near Coleraine. My father Norman established the Bellemont Holsteins herd in 1985 and we are currently milking 300 cows with an average yield of 10,500l. We have a herdsman and employ some relief milkers. We have 50 acres planted in winter wheat also.”

Education: “I graduated from CAFRE Greenmount campus in May with a level three diploma in work-based agriculture. I started with the level two course when I finished school and studied both courses one day a week at Greenmount over four years.”

Breeding: “Our main focus with breeding is based around genomics for selling bulls to breed companies. We have 10 bulls in AI at the moment. We bought embryos in from Holland and America at different times which have produced cows that have done well.”

Winter Fair: “We show some cows at local shows during the summer as a hobby. The best cows that we have for showing are from the home-bred family. We will go to the Winter Fair on Thursday but aren’t showing anything at it this year because we have been busy at home with cows calving this week and throughout December. This will take us to milking over 350 cows in January.”

Young breeders: “I have been a member of Holstein Young Breeders for the past few years. The club involves visits to Holstein farms across Northern Ireland for stock judging competitions. I have learned a lot from the club and got the opportunity to meet other young dairy farmers.”

Quotable quote: “It is pleasing to see milk prices taking an upturn but we still need to see an established trend upwards. Throughout the downturn we have had to look at both how other farmers have managed and then how costs can be minimised on our own farm.”

By: Peter McCann
Source: Irish Farmer’s Journal

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