Opinions on this farm scenario?

Hagri

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Ireland
So I've been thinking of returning home to farm with my 70 yr old father who's struggling to find good full time labour and is naturally slowing down. I'm working off farm full time but really have an urge to leave the office job and come home (option of career break). If I'm going to do this and go into partnership with my father I will need a good farm plan going forward. There are outstanding liabilities, loans etc to be paid off to the tune of 6 figures, clearing these is something I want to prioritise

The farm itself is currently running 90 sucklers, spring & autumn calving finishing all between 24-30 months, 200+ lambing ewes, 150 acres tillage + horses. We do all the machinery work ourselves apart from pitting silage and ploughing. Machinery would be ageing.

The setup
200 acres surrounding farmhouse and central farm yard with 3 farm roadways spanning different directions. Approx 1km down the road is another 160 acre block. Land is good free draining, would scorch easily.

I want to reduce the current workload while making a decent income. I'm most interested in tillage enterprise so will be hoping to maintain this but open to changing other enterprises.

To me Dairy seems to be the best option for cash flow and with the farm setup, however I am not interested in putting in a very intensive system. I would want to be getting in as cheap as I can too. Robots while not cheap (unless secondhand?) do seem appealing to me and with the current sheds there wouldn't be alot to build except cubicles.

With that set I'm interested in hearing some ideas or tips on what others might do with such a scenario?

EDIT - I am aware that there would be investment costs getting into dairy and this contradicts my goal of easing debt, however, if I am coming home to farm I would like to have a farm business plan in place and explore the best options long term for generating a consistent income.

Also on reducing current workload, perhaps I should have phrased it as focusing the work efforts and increasing efficiency, as current workload seems to be stretched with different irons in the fire. I am aware that any fulltime farm will be demanding and I am prepared to work hard for it.
 
Last edited:

yellowbelly

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
N.Lincs
Bit more info would be useful...

Location.

Owner occupier/tenanted?
Is the current system making a profit/loss?

What crops are you growing on the arable area now?

Have you any experience milking?

Could you get a contract?

Just in from lambing shed ,so away off to bed now. Will look in with interest tomorrow to see what the TFF brains trust has come up with 🙂
 

Flatlander

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lorette Manitoba
not wanting to be a dick but it’s a common theme that the son that’s been away from home earning a decent living want to return home during fathers final years but is hell bent on changing everything,better cash flow,diversification Modernizing up grading and a slew of other big ideas. The OP said he wants to farm with his father but what I read is your wanting to change everything. As said milking cows is a 24/7 365 days a year commitment with or without a robot. Do you have experience in dairy, you mention tillage as you main interest and reducing the workload and make a good living. is it possible to crop every acre or are the cows there to graze unploughable/crop able acres. I sincerely wish you the best in farming with your father but I’d expect there to be some major power struggles if your trying to change everything that he’s achieved.
 

Farmer Roy

Member
Arable Farmer
Seems odd that a 70yr old with a mixed farm would be in debt for six figures. Silly season on tff

Indeed, I’m wondering how he has arrived at that situation

err, I wouldn’t have thought it that odd surely ?

buying out siblings / family members, purchasing land, a few bad seasons etc etc

not hard to run up a bit of debt & I’d say most farms here have substantial borrowings. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with debt - it’s the ability to service it that is the main thing.

6 figures - that could theoretically be £100,000, which is less than it would cost me to update a tractor
 

kiwi pom

Member
Location
canterbury NZ
Siblings?
The line of succession needs sorting. There are too many stories of one doing all the work for others to expect to be in line for a large share.
That was my first thought, there could be trouble in the near future.
Seems odd that a 70yr old with a mixed farm would be in debt for six figures. Silly season on tff
That might only be 110k, one mid sized Fendt would be more than that.
 

farmerdan7618

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
Is your father open to such a degree of change? Or are you open to running it a bit closer to how your father is?

If the answer to these questions is no, you will spend your days fighting with each other and a partnership would not work. Doesn't mean you couldn't farm, but the buyout route would possibly be better.

Why did you start working off farm?
 

cows sh#t me to tears

Member
Livestock Farmer
200 dairy cows would most likely set you back £250 to £300 000 would it not @Bald Rick ? Then the robots....same again I would imagine.....Might end up being 7 figures owed.....plus your SEVERELY underestimating the work load......All goes pear shaped and you go back to your job....Where does that leave your father........
 

Werzle

Member
Location
Midlands
err, I wouldn’t have thought it that odd surely ?

buying out siblings / family members, purchasing land, a few bad seasons etc etc

not hard to run up a bit of debt & I’d say most farms here have substantial borrowings. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with debt - it’s the ability to service it that is the main thing.

6 figures - that could theoretically be £100,000, which is less than it would cost me to update a tractor
The cynic in me thinks theres an awful lot of made up threads just lately. The OP's first priority he states is to clear the six figure debt but then talks about going into milk which is going to need huge six figure investment. Then other posters start on about paying out siblings and fendt tractors although nothing has been mentioned in the opening thread about them.
 

Jdunn55

Member
Have you ever milked cows? If not go and do it for 6 months and see how you get on

Milking cows is not for everyone, you have to absolutely love it or be completely nuts (I'm lucky enough to meet both of those qualifications) for it to be worthwhile doing.

I started up 9 months ago, and my god its been a hell of a struggle (just read the thread all things dairy and lookout for my posts complaining about yet another disaster if you want proof!)
As @cows sh#t me to tears has said, there is absolutely zero chance of dairy cows reducing the workload. BUT, there is every reason they could improve cashflow and pay more than sucklers/sheep/arable but it has to be done right and you need to want it for the right reasons. The cows are phenomenol and I'd be lost without mine, but they do half test your patience and I've spent more time perched with my head on one of their backs in tears this year than I care to remember.

If you're serious about it, find out if you can get a contract (this will make or break this idea), if you can with who, there's better and worse companies out there.
Then for budgeting purposes:
£1500 for cows (this will vary slightly depending on the quality of stock you buy)
Robots are around £100,000 each currently (brand new) and can milk 50-60 cows at a time depending on how many litres they're doing
A 15:30 herringbone parlour is £100,000
Sheds are currently £6 per square foot excluding election (can probably add £2 per foot for that)
Concrete is £2 per square foot I think including laying it
Then it will be a case of bulk tank, cubicles, slurry storage? Silage pits? Cow tracks (if you go down the robot route this needs very careful planning if you want to graze) water access etc

From what you've said so far, and assuming you can get a contract, I would be looking at autumn calving so that they're dry over the summer when you said you're prone to scorching. Milking 200 cows through a herringbone parlour with a good track system and grazing as much as possible in the autumn and spring. Grow maize and some corn in rotation on the 160 acres 1km down the road and rear heifers here. Could even use fodder beet as a break crop around the yard to graze over the winter

Good luck 👍
 

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