John might go micro dairying...... kind of.....

And I honestly haven't much of a clue about it :oops: So constructive, knowledgeable suggestions & leads are invited.

I'd rather take a while fleshing out the idea than rush in and screw it up, as I would have to invest in facilities because none currently exist.

I will post some of the photos I have of the land, and the grass it can grow (in places).

The basic idea goes along the lines of enterprise stacking and value adding.

Given my very exposed coastal location with high rainfall, breed seems the obvious place to start. I would prefer smaller cattle so as not to cut up the ground which is steep in lots of places, or maybe very hilly instead of steep, lots of slopes either way.

Currently our native breed of Kerry cow is foremost in my thinking, due to her being bred for poorer grazing, agility, and lighter weight.


I'm open to other suggestions, however bear in mind heavy cows won't work here because of poaching and it's ground inaccessible to machinery.

As regards to nutrition, that's a big unknown for me and another reason for checking out more adapted breeds. The land I intend to run cows on has only ever had sheep. Some neighbours run beef cattle but on a very, very conventional basis. There are no dairy farms I would imagine within 40/50 miles of here - for good reason.

At the moment I'd rather not talk dairy sheep or dairy goats :) as part of the reason is I'd like to significantly reduce sheep numbers by bringing in cattle/cows -investigating cows as I see some milk as more opportunistic to add value than beef.

I would prefer to bale or pod graze for outwintering. This may not be possible due to rainfall. In that case the idea would be a woodchip bedded block built shed. Straw requires carriage of great distance, and in Ireland between chopping it, burning it for power, and now a scheme to plough it back in it will only rise in price. Peat bedding is available but I'd prefer not to use that for obvious reasons.

I would hope to graze cows using holistic planned grazing and lots of electric fencing. I am still building this infrastructure and I have probably 2km of 1/2" waterpipe laid since last year - it was only after I read cattle all like to drink together so I may have screwed up there but that's where I am with water.

Water quantity and quality.... This may be a problem. The land is on an island joined to the mainland by bridge. There are no lakes or streams/rivers. There are what we would term as bogholes I guess. The water from them is a brown colour, due to the nature of the peaty soil around them. I don't think a well has ever been bored on the island, I couldn't speculate as to whether that is something that could be done successfully or not, if there might be saltwater ingress or something else. What cost a connection to mains public water, likely to be eye watering.

Facilities, currently none. To set up with cattle here, legally a handling pen, permanent crush and isolation shed (small) are required afaik. For a micro dairy I guess a small area for a parlour and a seperate small area for the dairy itself (if I'm getting my terms right). Probably start with something very basic.

Numbers, certainly less than ten to start. I did say micro. Given the type of land and available acres 60 or 70 numbers will never be high as Winters can be long depending on year.

Sheep are the only enterprise at the moment. I plan to trial laying hens, hopefully in 2021.

Thanks for reading!
 

Gulli

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
What's your market? Liquid milk/cheese/butter? Are you selling raw or pasteurised?

It's easy enough to buy a few cows and start milking them, a parlour and bulk tank for that many won't cost you much but if you're thinking of expanding then you may run into trouble with capacity. I don't know what the rules are over there but you'll have to meet the same standards as everyone else if you were in this country so you'd have to be direct selling to make a premium or it doesn't stack up, be prepared to chuck a fair bit of milk away as well.
 

Sharpy

Member
Livestock Farmer
1 or 2 cow milking bail winched to fresh site so they exit bail onto fresh grass?
Or a stake driven in/ ring into boulder and chain the cow to it and hand milk/ portable milking machine?
If your ground has been sheep only for eternity cattle will do well and will improve the grazing no end. A farm near here was sheep only for 10 or 15 years, got a new owner who in addition to the 600ish Blackies put 30 Highland cows on. 5 years later the farm was running an additional 200 ewes, all due to the cows (who were still there).
Finally if you are feeding concentrates you are importing fertility, also probably trace elements from a different area no one knows about which your ground is probably short of.
Edit. I will take some photos of where the cows water comes from here, no doubt it will look similar to bits of yours.
 
Last edited:

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
It shouldn't be too difficult if you can get the wee Kerry cows halter-trained, ie you could make a mobile milking plant with a good screen setup for shelter + shade, take extra water with you and bring milk back. Meet the herd somewhere nice.

Otherwise all their :poop: ends up "somewhere" and then you have to deal with something else: :poop:

you may want a couple of stand-off areas in sheltered spots.. I would use deep woodchip,, with gum tree trunks for the edges but you probably won't have much of that.
Saves making a heck of a mess if you can on/off graze at the worst of times.

Take a few hundred litres during summer to fill their trough, and the ½inch pipe will keep up with a wee few; it's just initially filling that trough with thirsty cows around, is the issue. What would be the cost of sinking a bore vs mains connection? Is that feasible 🤷‍♂️
 
Ooooh. I like a challenge!
How close is your market/ customers?
Where I live has a strong tourist presence seasonally, with many affluent holiday home owners originating from Dublin mostly. There's a city of I imagine 60,000 within 50 miles.

What's your market? Liquid milk/cheese/butter? Are you selling raw or pasteurised?

It's easy enough to buy a few cows and start milking them, a parlour and bulk tank for that many won't cost you much but if you're thinking of expanding then you may run into trouble with capacity. I don't know what the rules are over there but you'll have to meet the same standards as everyone else if you were in this country so you'd have to be direct selling to make a premium or it doesn't stack up, be prepared to chuck a fair bit of milk away as well.
Liquid milk I think is the least complicated at the moment. I am interested in raw milk, with the warning I need to look into product insurance and also the health and regulatory guidelines around it. If that is too big an issue then pasteurised but not homogenised. I don't intend for one second of my thinking to be competing with supermarket/shop milk. Direct selling plus adding value in certain ways it the gist of it. It'll never be a big numbers enterprise so I'm quite happy at block built scale buildings and simple but practical operating equipment. I intend it to be a complementary enterprise rather than a commodity/mono enterprise (without wanting to offend anyone!).

1 or 2 cow milking bail winched to fresh site so they exit bail onto fresh grass?
Or a stake driven in/ ring into boulder and chain the cow to it and hand milk/ portable milking machine?
If your ground has been sheep only for eternity cattle will do well and will improve the grazing no end. A farm near here was sheep only for 10 or 15 years, got a new owner who in addition to the 600ish Blackies put 30 Highland cows on. 5 years later the farm was running an additional 200 ewes, all due to the cows (who were still there).
Finally if you are feeding concentrates you are importing fertility, also probably trace elements from a different area no one knows about which your ground is probably short of.
Edit. I will take some photos of where the cows water comes from here, no doubt it will look similar to bits of yours.
Yeah a mobile milking set up is something I've looked at. Actually pulling it around the farm could be an issue. However, I could park it up in a building and use that as the base for the time being. I'm open minded on it. Whichever option I'd like it not to take all day all the same.

Naturally increasing the fertility with cattle/cows and chickens is something that's a fairly major component of the overall plan for sure. Rather than increase numbers, I would hope that it'll extend out the start and end times of when I'm able to graze and cut down Winter feed bills.

Concentrates, something I'd like to avoid, ideally. I don't farm an ideal farm however, I may have to bend on this notion.

60 jerseys milked through a robot then make icecream cheese butter etc and bottled milk sold at farm gate/local town
I'll never make those numbers :) My late father I believe had around 60 cattle early in his farming career, but he would have also utilised other parcels of land, one large one wouldn't suit dairy stock, but was used for beef.

Don't underestimate how hardy jerseys and jersey x milking cows are. They will probably be your best bet for a grazing, milking cow
I suppose I have three main concerns when it comes to breed. One is size and the damage a large heavy animal will do here - I see it with my neighbours and they're running angus, hereford, charollais etc. A lot of their fields are all pugged up, ankle breaking places, full of rushes. Second concern, not in any order of importance, is their outwintering ability. No more than bending on the concentrates idea I may also have to bend on the outwintering, which I have a plan for in any case. The next concern then is meeting the nutritional, energy, etc requirements of the lactating cow. I won't be profitable or regenerative if I end up with a bunch of sickly or dying cows. That said, I fully acknowledge my knowledge on the subject is limited and it may not be as big an issue as I think. I will add photos to this post.

It shouldn't be too difficult if you can get the wee Kerry cows halter-trained, ie you could make a mobile milking plant with a good screen setup for shelter + shade, take extra water with you and bring milk back. Meet the herd somewhere nice.

Otherwise all their :poop: ends up "somewhere" and then you have to deal with something else: :poop:

you may want a couple of stand-off areas in sheltered spots.. I would use deep woodchip,, with gum tree trunks for the edges but you probably won't have much of that.
Saves making a heck of a mess if you can on/off graze at the worst of times.

Take a few hundred litres during summer to fill their trough, and the ½inch pipe will keep up with a wee few; it's just initially filling that trough with thirsty cows around, is the issue. What would be the cost of sinking a bore vs mains connection? Is that feasible 🤷‍♂️
Self spreading 💩 is a good point and something I can fully agree with. Moving the milking set up could be an issue but something I'll need to think over more. The eggmobile was a slightly different issue as it'd be moved daily or every other day while a mobile parlour would need to be brought back to base for cleaning. Hm, cleaning, I'll need a mains connection somewhere for that.

The purpose of the stand off spots is so cows won't dig up pasture waiting to be milked, am I understanding that right? Not sure how our dept look on that but I see how that works. I know a sheep farmer who does similar for winter feeding a small flock. I have a number of IBC tanks (1,000 liters) already around the farm and a decent water pump. All placed on top of hills so once the water is pumped, gravity feeds the paddocks.

I can't answer the cost question right now on well vs mains. The main question over the well would be will the water be good enough quality. Mains connections can be quite spendy, heard of one north of €60,000 which is madness, not sure what the average cost is.

---------------------------------

Photos.

I always feel I should apologise for the state of the land below, but it's only recently under my management and my new thinking! So, I'm not gonna this time :)

Quite well rested, would not be the average, but demonstrates with good management what the place can grow.

EjKiTxOXsAAl78H.jpg


Drone shots, contrasts the unimproved land around my land. It needs significant work, but needs to generate income to pay for that work also.

DJI_0741.JPG


Are we close to the sea, a bit. All these places can grow lots of grass, without fertiliser. The quality of which, I don't know? Not all of the land is great, obviously.

DJI_0723.JPG


Currently setting posts in the field below, of around 18 acres, so I can use electric fencing to make paddocks of 1 acre or more at a time, or strip graze. I'll do the same in the photo above, already mapped it out. Working on the other place but the walls make it more work again.

DJI_0705.JPG


Almost forgot, here is where the water get's pumped from, centre top and top rght. Be surprised how much it holds, even pumping 1 or 2 thousand litres during the height of our "drought" didn't make a dent in the water levels.

DJI_0744.JPG
 
Last edited:

Gulli

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
Kerry cows will do you well for marketing as they are native and you can sell that story a lot easier than 'heres a cow that the rest of the country are milking' gives you an easy point of difference.
Raw milk is a bit of a minefield, it's a nice idea and some people like it, but pasteurised offers you more options and has a longer shelf life, and less risk( you can't sell raw if you're sh!t down with tb)
Also worth noting that milk will tie in well with eggs especially if you are delivering to urban areas (y)
 
Kerry cows will do you well for marketing as they are native and you can sell that story a lot easier than 'heres a cow that the rest of the country are milking' gives you an easy point of difference.
Raw milk is a bit of a minefield, it's a nice idea and some people like it, but pasteurised offers you more options and has a longer shelf life, and less risk( you can't sell raw if you're sh!t down with tb)
Also worth noting that milk will tie in well with eggs especially if you are delivering to urban areas (y)
Excellent point about the Kerry cows @Gulli. I would be looking no further if I was JG. Is there still a decent population so that you can buy decent cows that will work 'commercially' @JohnGalway?
The marketing aspect in relation to the breed as a story isn't of huge concern to me, as on farms the story has turned into a bit of a commodity in itself. I'm going to go at sales/marketing in a bit of a different way.

The draw of the raw milk, being perfectly honest, was the profit margin on it. As the Kerry wouldn't have a big yield compared to other dairy breeds I had to figure something to increase the value.

I do have a contact that knows a Kerry cow farmer and likely has links to another but I'm not set on breed just yet. Actually I'm quite interested in hearing more about the Jersey in relation to points of concern I've listed above.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Where I live has a strong tourist presence seasonally, with many affluent holiday home owners originating from Dublin mostly. There's a city of I imagine 60,000 within 50 miles.



Liquid milk I think is the least complicated at the moment. I am interested in raw milk, with the warning I need to look into product insurance and also the health and regulatory guidelines around it. If that is too big an issue then pasteurised but not homogenised. I don't intend for one second of my thinking to be competing with supermarket/shop milk. Direct selling plus adding value in certain ways it the gist of it. It'll never be a big numbers enterprise so I'm quite happy at block built scale buildings and simple but practical operating equipment. I intend it to be a complementary enterprise rather than a commodity/mono enterprise (without wanting to offend anyone!).



Yeah a mobile milking set up is something I've looked at. Actually pulling it around the farm could be an issue. However, I could park it up in a building and use that as the base for the time being. I'm open minded on it. Whichever option I'd like it not to take all day all the same.

Naturally increasing the fertility with cattle/cows and chickens is something that's a fairly major component of the overall plan for sure. Rather than increase numbers, I would hope that it'll extend out the start and end times of when I'm able to graze and cut down Winter feed bills.

Concentrates, something I'd like to avoid, ideally. I don't farm an ideal farm however, I may have to bend on this notion.



I'll never make those numbers :) My late father I believe had around 60 cattle early in his farming career, but he would have also utilised other parcels of land, one large one wouldn't suit dairy stock, but was used for beef.



I suppose I have three main concerns when it comes to breed. One is size and the damage a large heavy animal will do here - I see it with my neighbours and they're running angus, hereford, charollais etc. A lot of their fields are all pugged up, ankle breaking places, full of rushes. Second concern, not in any order of importance, is their outwintering ability. No more than bending on the concentrates idea I may also have to bend on the outwintering, which I have a plan for in any case. The next concern then is meeting the nutritional, energy, etc requirements of the lactating cow. I won't be profitable or regenerative if I end up with a bunch of sickly or dying cows. That said, I fully acknowledge my knowledge on the subject is limited and it may not be as big an issue as I think. I will add photos to this post.



Self spreading 💩 is a good point and something I can fully agree with. Moving the milking set up could be an issue but something I'll need to think over more. The eggmobile was a slightly different issue as it'd be moved daily or every other day while a mobile parlour would need to be brought back to base for cleaning. Hm, cleaning, I'll need a mains connection somewhere for that.

The purpose of the stand off spots is so cows won't dig up pasture waiting to be milked, am I understanding that right? Not sure how our dept look on that but I see how that works. I know a sheep farmer who does similar for winter feeding a small flock. I have a number of IBC tanks (1,000 liters) already around the farm and a decent water pump. All placed on top of hills so once the water is pumped, gravity feeds the paddocks.

I can't answer the cost question right now on well vs mains. The main question over the well would be will the water be good enough quality. Mains connections can be quite spendy, heard of one north of €60,000 which is madness, not sure what the average cost is.

---------------------------------

Photos.

I always feel I should apologise for the state of the land below, but it's only recently under my management and my new thinking! So, I'm not gonna this time :)

Quite well rested, would not be the average, but demonstrates with good management what the place can grow.

View attachment 915724

Drone shots, contrasts the unimproved land around my land. It needs significant work, but needs to generate income to pay for that work also.

View attachment 915725

Are we close to the sea, a bit. All these places can grow lots of grass, without fertiliser. The quality of which, I don't know? Not all of the land is great, obviously.

View attachment 915727

Currently setting posts in the field below, of around 18 acres, so I can use electric fencing to make paddocks of 1 acre or more at a time, or strip graze. I'll do the same in the photo above, already mapped it out. Working on the other place but the walls make it more work again.

View attachment 915729

Almost forgot, here is where the water get's pumped from, centre top and top rght. Be surprised how much it holds, even pumping 1 or 2 thousand litres during the height of our "drought" didn't make a dent in the water levels.

View attachment 915730
Looks like you already have your paddocks mapped out
 
Looks like you already have your paddocks mapped out
Yup, but I will have to spend the Winter lifting walls.

This is how I mapped out one of the other parcels, into one acre paddocks, I have creosoted marker posts driven at the intersection points so I can quickly (if not terribly accurately) make a one, two, four or half acre paddock in the future as I need. The water tanks will be at the top of the hill and the 1/2" pipe runs down the centre with a mobile DIY drinker able to be placed at different points.

Paddocks.jpg
 

bendigeidfran

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cei newydd
And I honestly haven't much of a clue about it :oops: So constructive, knowledgeable suggestions & leads are invited.

I'd rather take a while fleshing out the idea than rush in and screw it up, as I would have to invest in facilities because none currently exist.

I will post some of the photos I have of the land, and the grass it can grow (in places).

The basic idea goes along the lines of enterprise stacking and value adding.

Given my very exposed coastal location with high rainfall, breed seems the obvious place to start. I would prefer smaller cattle so as not to cut up the ground which is steep in lots of places, or maybe very hilly instead of steep, lots of slopes either way.

Currently our native breed of Kerry cow is foremost in my thinking, due to her being bred for poorer grazing, agility, and lighter weight.


I'm open to other suggestions, however bear in mind heavy cows won't work here because of poaching and it's ground inaccessible to machinery.

As regards to nutrition, that's a big unknown for me and another reason for checking out more adapted breeds. The land I intend to run cows on has only ever had sheep. Some neighbours run beef cattle but on a very, very conventional basis. There are no dairy farms I would imagine within 40/50 miles of here - for good reason.

At the moment I'd rather not talk dairy sheep or dairy goats :) as part of the reason is I'd like to significantly reduce sheep numbers by bringing in cattle/cows -investigating cows as I see some milk as more opportunistic to add value than beef.

I would prefer to bale or pod graze for outwintering. This may not be possible due to rainfall. In that case the idea would be a woodchip bedded block built shed. Straw requires carriage of great distance, and in Ireland between chopping it, burning it for power, and now a scheme to plough it back in it will only rise in price. Peat bedding is available but I'd prefer not to use that for obvious reasons.

I would hope to graze cows using holistic planned grazing and lots of electric fencing. I am still building this infrastructure and I have probably 2km of 1/2" waterpipe laid since last year - it was only after I read cattle all like to drink together so I may have screwed up there but that's where I am with water.

Water quantity and quality.... This may be a problem. The land is on an island joined to the mainland by bridge. There are no lakes or streams/rivers. There are what we would term as bogholes I guess. The water from them is a brown colour, due to the nature of the peaty soil around them. I don't think a well has ever been bored on the island, I couldn't speculate as to whether that is something that could be done successfully or not, if there might be saltwater ingress or something else. What cost a connection to mains public water, likely to be eye watering.

Facilities, currently none. To set up with cattle here, legally a handling pen, permanent crush and isolation shed (small) are required afaik. For a micro dairy I guess a small area for a parlour and a seperate small area for the dairy itself (if I'm getting my terms right). Probably start with something very basic.

Numbers, certainly less than ten to start. I did say micro. Given the type of land and available acres 60 or 70 numbers will never be high as Winters can be long depending on year.

Sheep are the only enterprise at the moment. I plan to trial laying hens, hopefullin 2021.

Thanks for reading!
Very interesting time for you, when would you like to start?
I was wondering do you have anybody to help you/ relief milker .
Thinking if you wanted a holiday/ day off or got sick injured, even a house cow can be a bit of a tie.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Very interesting time for you, when would you like to start?
I was wondering do you have anybody to help you/ relief milker .
Thinking if you wanted a holiday/ day off or got sick injured, even a house cow can be a bit of a tie.
@JohnGalway I may offer my services for holiday cover. I quite like the idea of a micro dairy relief job on the West coast of Ireland. Somehow, it seems idyllic. 🤣
 

Tim G

Member
An interesting thread @JohnGalway, I'm looking forward to seeing your project progressing.

A few points I'd raise, and these are by no means criticism. I don't know what the legislation regarding raw milk is like in Ireland but base my comments on the rules for England & Wales.
You are going to need a clean water supply and have it tested. Not just for washing, cows drinking dirty water won't produce clean milk.
Milk needs to be cooled quickly after milking. Bear this in mind if going for in field milking, as you will need it cooling before you get back to the buildings.
Sales routes for raw milk (here at least) are very restricted. We can sell ourselves from the farm gate, mail order or registered milkman, or at an approved farmers market. The person selling at the farmers market either has to be the business owner or someone who is involved with the milk production (you can't employ someone to just sell it). We aren't even allowed to deliver it ourselves. No selling to other retailers.
The holistic approach would be a good selling point.
I don't know your area at all but looking at Google maps there doesn't looking like much population. Is there enough demand?
You said you have a city of 60,000 50 miles away, how will they buy milk? I'm 50/60 miles from London and not many of them come here for milk. Everyone wants it delivered, and for free!
Get a relief milker! And make sure they milk at least once a week.
Only go for Jerseys if you have the patience of a Saint.
Only deal with the public if you have the patience to deal with Jerseys!
 
Very interesting time for you, when would you like to start?
I was wondering do you have anybody to help you/ relief milker .
Thinking if you wanted a holiday/ day off or got sick injured, even a house cow can be a bit of a tie.
I'm in no hurry to start, first I have to trial the egg layers and I want to get that right before I jump into something else. There is also a finite budget for all my notions. I doubt I'll have a milking cow on the place in 2021.

I have no relief milker. There are certainly issues with the plan as it stands. I had thought of leaving calves on cows and only taking a % of the milk, realistically there are large holes in my knowledge that I need to plug. I doubt calf on cow would work on the Kerrys as they aren't prolific milkers compared to commercial cows.

@JohnGalway I may offer my services for holiday cover. I quite like the idea of a micro dairy relief job on the West coast of Ireland. Somehow, it seems idyllic. 🤣
Having processed your application through our tough selection criteria, you're hired (y)

Take your brolly with you☔
And wet gear.

An interesting thread @JohnGalway, I'm looking forward to seeing your project progressing.

A few points I'd raise, and these are by no means criticism. I don't know what the legislation regarding raw milk is like in Ireland but base my comments on the rules for England & Wales.
You are going to need a clean water supply and have it tested. Not just for washing, cows drinking dirty water won't produce clean milk.
Milk needs to be cooled quickly after milking. Bear this in mind if going for in field milking, as you will need it cooling before you get back to the buildings.
Sales routes for raw milk (here at least) are very restricted. We can sell ourselves from the farm gate, mail order or registered milkman, or at an approved farmers market. The person selling at the farmers market either has to be the business owner or someone who is involved with the milk production (you can't employ someone to just sell it). We aren't even allowed to deliver it ourselves. No selling to other retailers.
The holistic approach would be a good selling point.
I don't know your area at all but looking at Google maps there doesn't looking like much population. Is there enough demand?
You said you have a city of 60,000 50 miles away, how will they buy milk? I'm 50/60 miles from London and not many of them come here for milk. Everyone wants it delivered, and for free!
Get a relief milker! And make sure they milk at least once a week.
Only go for Jerseys if you have the patience of a Saint.
Only deal with the public if you have the patience to deal with Jerseys!
What's the deal with Jerseys compared to other breeds? I have read the bulls can be wicked. I have a couple hundred sheep, tick the patience box.

I'm calling a micro dairist today, so will question her re regulations, and water, though I think that issue may be particular to myself.

I intend to start small and test the market. If it doesn't work out then ok, I will have a few cows and some second hand gear to flog. I had always intended to move away from sheep, so a lot of the infrastructure will also suit beef cattle or fit in as storage or workspace for other things.

"The public" tramp over a lot of my land every year so I get to meet them whether I wish to or not. May as well try to make a few bucks off them.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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