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is entering dairying still an option

  • 20-03-2022 9:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,207 ✭✭✭

    been doin lots of thinking here on the future of my farming enterprise,.currently running a dairy calf to beef and mid season lambing sheep flock on 33 ha of owned land stocked a 165kg N per im at my limit as far as im concerned,..with current imput costs my enterprise isn't sustainable even if fertiliser drops for example 200 per ton and meal 50 per ton it is still a dead im starting to look at the possibility of going milking...heres the current setup

    20 hectares accessible to yard without crossing any roads which had 600m or farm road way half way through it.12 hectares of grass across the road suitable for silage ground also all ground would be dry suitable for early turn out.The yard had a 2 span slatted shed with a 2 span straw lay back and another 3 bay slatted sheds with a 5 span straw lay back..also have another 4 span straw shed adjacent to these..if my calculations are correct i have 370 m3 of slurry storage

    so this has me thinking maybe a 60 cow dairy herd is an option,.buy a secondhand parlour and convert a few of the sheds for cubicles...anyone any advice or thoughts?



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,624 ✭✭✭older by the day

    What age are you? As it's a long term commitment

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,207 ✭✭✭weatherbyfoxer

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,080 Mod ✭✭✭✭K.G.

    The secret to going milking is to spend nothing and Imean nothing.before you do anything do a couple of years on a dairy farm first,heard a few days ago about a large conversion that hasn't gone well.they just didn't comprehend the work and management involved

    Post edited by K.G. on

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,124 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    Are they trying to turn it around or looking for an out?

    Sad to hear that. I hope the stress of the decision isn't getting to them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 782 ✭✭✭Pinsnbushings

    Are you farming full time at present? Do you have any other skills or education behind you? Are there any other careers that might interest you..? I ask because I've a similar enough farm and I'm similar vintage and it's easy get blinkered by the farm and then dairying being the only way to make a living from it...there are fantastic opportunities out there now that will definitely give an easier life for possibly more financial reward.

    But if farming is a passion it can be a great way of life too, I'd second getting some experience on on a dairy farm before spending a penny though

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,207 ✭✭✭weatherbyfoxer

    im semi full time with a small seasonal contracting business on the side mainly from may to september,myself and my wife have discussed sharing the milkings if we go ahead with a dairy setup so ill still keep on the bit of summer contract work going,definitely plan to do some part-time work on a dairy farm before investing

  • Registered Users Posts: 782 ✭✭✭Pinsnbushings

    It looks like you have enough slurry storage and decent grazing infrastructure, will the sheep cover the cost of buying cows? You could rear heifers instead of the bull calfs for next couple of years, bit if you don't go ahead with the conversion demand for them in 2 years mightnt be wonderful with talk of herd restrictions etc..

    have you plan for cubicles layed out and costs on these..building costs are gone through the roof, I'm building a shed at the moment and it's scary.

    If you need to build a shed for the parlour, at your scale and setup a robot may be an option if it could be fitted in an existing shed and may suit your contracting. Again thorough costings need to be done and robots aren't plain sailing either, but for a new entrant they provide great information.

    Overall I'd be nervous of doing anything drastic for the next couple of years, maybe rear some heifer calves and get some experience, don't mind any of the bullshit on the papers or online, there's no fortune in dairy especially at our scale. If you could winter the ewes without silage and too much meal, with the way costs are spirally I'd say they might be as profitable as the dairy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,300 ✭✭✭FintanMcluskey

    There was a talk on a local farm a few years back about guys entering dairy.

    Basically, the guy speaking said don't let money be the only motivation for entering dairying.

    He referred to dairying as senior hurling, basically, unless you are considered an excellent farmer at your current farming enterprise, dairying is not for you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,207 ✭✭✭weatherbyfoxer

    current there is 60 cattle here (30 0-1s,30 1-2s) and 230 ewes the sale of these should near cover the cost of buying 60 cows in a clearance sale,..buildings wise id be putting the second hand parlour into an exsisting sheep shed,priced covering a 25x75ft yard for cubicles at €12,600+vat,few other bit like widening an entrance and making a turning area for the lorry

    from my calculations id be fully set for under 100k,..from chatting to others i know milking in my area,on simular ground type €1000 profit per cow is very do able with some doing 1200-1300 per cow thats not including farm payments..i have no qualifications that world bring in the color of that from an off farm job nor do i want to work off farm for 5 days and farm the other 2

    system id be looking at is 60 br friesian cows spring calving,all ai to beef bulls with replacement heifers bought in as needed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,251 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,131 ✭✭✭Grueller

    Your last paragraph will not allow you get to 1200 profit. I started with brfr cows and they just are not capable of the volumes. I have 60/40 hol/fr that do €500 more milk per year than the brfr with the same feeding. The British are too fond of putting it on their back. I am only in year 3 milking and leaving sucklers I was mad for British too, but won't even breed replacement heifers from them now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,745 ✭✭✭Jjameson

    Are you sure they’d be working off the same feeding? I haven’t milked a cow in 20 years and am a hurler on the ditch so am only asking. Would British friesian be more tolerant of less than perfect pasture and give a moderate milk yield where the bigger Holstein blood cows would be roaring?

    are smaller jersey cross cows a safer option starting out?

    Post edited by Jjameson on

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,745 ✭✭✭Jjameson

    This is the makings of a great thread and is something so lacking in terms of research and information for a panthers of similar sized farms. The work /life balance is a bigger issue than the money,

    the point earlier about needing to be an excellent farmer before starting is that it takes income and revenue to put a shine on a place.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,871 ✭✭✭GrasstoMilk

    Go for a high ebi /hol/fr type cow with a good maintenance figure of 15-20€

    yiull get nice sized cows that will graze and will do 550 kgs plus as mature cows

    bf/fr will only do 450-500 kgs as cows and have very little milk in the back end

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,251 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    I presume you will need to finance some or all of the 100k. There is still Brexit bmo ey out there unfortunately it is only over 6 or 7 years.

    At present AIB have there scheme closed off but NOI are still lending. Interest rate is variable at about 2.9%.

    Lending cannot be used for stock but it can be used for infrastructure and machinery. Over ,6 years 60k will cost you slightly less than 5.5k half yearly ( every six months) repayments.

    I would not discount the buying heifer calves and rearing them and starting in two years time. On the other hand you will probably pick up cows fairly ok this year.

    Are you intending to be up and running by mid summer or is it a 2023 project.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,512 ✭✭✭jaymla627

    Ask these lads telling you their making 1000 odd profit per cow will they let you see their last 3 years of accounts to verify this, even sign a nda and pay them a few hundred for providing the accounts, and have your accountant look them over to verify, its boils my piss when drystock men think dairying is willy wonkas golden ticket and been cheered on by lads filling them with s***te

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,443 ✭✭✭JustJoe7240

    Not trying to rain on your parade, but €1000 profit per cow is not very doable, It's the absolute upper end of performance, To quote the hurling analogy, It's inter county stuff. With input and building costs soaring, I think now would be a good time to work on a dairy farm to see if you actually like it, IT's not for everyone and if you don't like it it's a life sentence

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,900 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

    Another hurler on the Ditch here, but are British fr’s genetics not improving all the time to give high milk solids? Or it is that Holsteins are improving all the time too?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,440 ✭✭✭cjpm

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,251 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    This idea of going spending 2-3 year on a dairy farm is not an option in reality. Going working as hired labour on a dairy farm for 12-14 euro/ hour for someone in there mid 30 may even with a family is not dealing with the reality of life.

    At 13/ hour he have 520/ week before deductions. Maybe around 470 after deductions. That is not a runner.

    I know a lot of larger dairy farmers like us to believed that there running costs are only 2-3 euro per cow less than there turnover. As for accounts you need to be able to read them. Interesting thing a lad that deals with a few large dairy farmers said to me a few weeks ago.

    '' most of them consider that there profit is what is left in the bank at the end of the year after every expense from what is spend on the wife's car to the bag of coal bought in the co-op along with paying the tax man is all sorted''

    Where most smaller operations win is attention to detail. A 1200 liter cow is turning. This year a 5500L cow will turn 2.5k, a 7kL one over 3k. I know lads like to think.that it takes only a few euro less than that in costs but there is a decent margin there no matter what lads say.

    A lad with a tidy 60 cow operation turning 180k plus this year would have the reality of a 60-70k income even more even if the account did not reflect it.

    The HO cow is probably improving faster. As well the huge development is this middle of the road HO cow suitable for grass. Along with that while lads may rail against JE cross when it come back to 75%HO you have a tidy cow for a grass operations with excellent solids from what I am told.

    Slava Ukrainii

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  • Registered Users Posts: 549 ✭✭✭Morris Moss

    Just on the work comment, your tied to the place if your milking, I'm a couple of years younger than you and I'm seriously considering pulling the plug in the next few years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 782 ✭✭✭Pinsnbushings

    First off don't make any plans based on making a 1000 plus per cow per year It's can be done of course but consistently over the next 10 years it's not realistic.

    Don't skimp on the quality of stock you buy in day 1, spend alot of time on this in my view it will have a far bigger impact on your future success than buildings or infrastructure.

    I don't like the idea of buying in the replacements, at 60 cows I'd like to be breeding a top class cow and I don't think you'll buy that in haven't room for passengers. There is also the disease risk which could finish you. I'd rather rear say 12-15 heifers and buy in some forage if you think you'll be tight for ground..contract rearing an option bit with a small batch of heifers it might be hard to find a farm where they won't be mixing with other stock.

    Is there a processor to take your milk in the area.?

  • Registered Users Posts: 849 ✭✭✭Easten

    You'd have to factor in replacement costs as they are significant at about 10 replacements every year @€1200 each less cull value of old cows €4500.

    Which opens up another line of thinking but are dairy farmers actively looking for people to do contract rearing. As an alternative to sucklers it could be very profitable by using existing setups

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,900 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,512 ✭✭✭jaymla627

    1000 euro plus for any form of fertilizer, 500 euro plus for meal on the cards, and 100%plus increases in electricity and diseal costs and your still plugging the 1200 euro odd profit per cow, Jesus wept

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,251 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    Mostly you will be dealing with larger dairy farmers again. There was great threads on this 5 years ago. The dairy farmers taught that we should be happy out with 80-90c/day from 12 calf to point of calving. At that time I had it coated at 1.4/day if I remember right.

    There was a couple of bugbears. Most want there stock only on your place. That means only add on is calf to beef operations where you have to buy your calves from them.

    Next your stocking level would be huge in autumn with 8-10 month heifers and 20-22 month point of calving heifers.

    Some dairy farmers want access to grass only carrying everything back to there own sheds in December.

    A lot of beef operations are on more marginal land where targets are harder to meet.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 549 ✭✭✭Morris Moss

    Yeah, I can't keep going like I'm going now, life is passing me by.

  • Registered Users Posts: 849 ✭✭✭Easten

    For my own case I would like to do something like that as an alternative to Sucklers. Probably best talked about in another thread without hijacking this one

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,251 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    I think the reality of the margin is there. OP is talking about a 60 cow operation on 33 HA. His costs are going to be totally different to larger scale farms.

    His organic N level will be about 160kgsN/HA for his 60 cows. Add a stock bull and a few replacement heifers and he be borderline 170kgsN/HA

    A derogation will costs him 500-1k/year so he probably needs to rent 8-10 acres as well to avoid derogation or get his replacements reared. At that stocking level his fertlizer and ration bill will be much lower

    Will he make 1k/ cow from year one. No but within 5-8 years it is achievable. Will there be 60k shown in the accounts at year end and 15-20 k going to revenue no there will not be. But the reality of that income will be there.

    I have a few fears for him. I am not sure if he has considered the lifestyle change. He will be tied to the place for 10-11 months of the year. Has his wife a job, if so is it realistic for her to milk the cows once a day. Getting the finance structured right first day is an issues as well.

    However 100k borrowed over 15 years at 5% from a credit union costs 9.2k/ year for 15 years. When you invest in something like this 100k is nothing. However he dose some agri contracting so this means he can cut some costs elsewhere. He could rent a ten acre field and grow a crop of barley. 25-30ton would structure his ration costs to be very manageable. Know a lad doing similar he crimps it.

    Smaller operation can be way more flexible that larger ones. No need of a Landcruiser or a 130-150HP tractor costing 80k. No 14' Ivor Williams box

    Even in op situation because he contracts and is familiar with machinery a small zero grazer may be an option at the start. This avoids the need to put in a lot of road and water infrastructure at present. It something I would not normally advocate but I saw a handy one bought for 15 k. Let's the cows access to 1-2 acres and feed inside. No walking, no roads no water infrastructure.

    Slava Ukrainii

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,080 Mod ✭✭✭✭K.G.

    I remember talking to a contractor about silage one time and he said while there is money in it, it was the constant investment that killed it and dairying is alot like that.1000k margin is doable the odd year but if you took over it 20 years and allowed for bad years and capital investment no way is it doable every year.surprised nobody has said about the biggest problem.if regs come in like they are looking 40 cows is the max on 50 acres and in certain scenario s it could be less