Starting Dairying Through Partnership

Starting a dairy partnership requires; communication, the right balance of experience and qualifications; and appropriate finances, according to Ciaran and Seamus Seery who have doubled their herd size since 2002.
calendar icon 21 February 2013
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After qualifying from Mountbellew Agricultural College in 1996, I spent three years with the Farm Apprentice Board (FAB) programme and worked in Galway, Kilkenny and Meath. I quali?ed in 1999. My father, Seamus, was still actively farming at home, so I worked on dairy farms after qualifying from FAB and by 2002 I was working as a farm manager. Working away from home allowed me to experience different farm operations or as my father says “knocked the edges off me”.

It was always my intention to return back to the home farm. However at the time the farm was carrying 55 dairy cows and rearing all claves to stores. Did the farm have the potential to deliver an income to me and to my parents? At the time the Celtic Tiger was really starting to take hold and many of my friends were getting big wages on construction jobs around the country. It was decision time for me and my family. At the same time the partnership scheme was launched. We were advised by our Teagasc Adviser at the time, Peter Burke, that we were eligible to form a farm partnership.

The main advantage for the partnership at the time was we could freely access quota. We sat down with our adviser, accountant and solicitor and drew up the partnership agreement.

Our plan was to increase cow numbers and continue to improve ef?ciency. On entering the partnership, we purchased as much quota as possible. Having bought the quota we were now in a rush to grow our cow numbers to match our quota size. We expanded rapidly. Maybe, in hindsight, we would have built slower over time and concentrated more on breeding, but we did bene?t over the last 10 years from an increased Single Farm Payment.

Progress to Date

2002:        Partnership formed
                Milking 55 cows
                Started to purchase quota
                Started to purchase cows

2004         Joined Purchasing Group

2008         Built new cubicle shed
                No more cows purchased

2008         Built slurry storage (lagoon)

2009         New milking parlour (20 units)
                Part of the farm transferred to me

2012          Milking 110 cows, rearing surplus replacements
                 Stocked at 3.45 cows on the milking block

Table 1: Cow Numbers and Performance Over the Last 10 Years
YearCowsSRKg MS/Ha
2002 55 1.77 766
2003 68 2.19 937
2004 90 2.9 1162
2005 101 3.25 1374
2006 93 3 1293
2007 104 3.35 1374
2008 106 3.42 1388
2009 100 3.22 1277
2010 115 3.71 1420
2011 107 3.45 1493
Average 94 3.02 1256

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

February 2013

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