Moydow farmer, John Payne has secured his second milk quality award this year after scooping the Development Prize at the recently held NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.
Mr Payne is relatively new to dairy farming having progressed the family farm over the past couple of years.
While farming with his parents, Roy and Alice, the family farm at Torboy was traditionally a sheep and suckler beef farm but progressed to a dairy farm around 2010. “I was studying for a Degree in Agriculture at Harper Adams and was not contemplating dairy farming, but in 2008 I began planning my own dairy enterprise,” he explained. “I bought heifers in 2009 with a view to calving down and starting milking in 2010, so I built a new milking parlour to the side of existing sheds and converted some of the existing suckler beef housing to dairy housing.”
It was a race to the finish line for the local farmer who was determined to have the parlour completed before the first cows calved in February 2010.
“Then parts of the new milking parlour equipment were trapped in transit in the UK due to snow and as the first of the cows started to calve, I had to set up a temporary bucket system so that we could milk the cows,” he said, adding that it was a “busy time” as 25 cows had calved before the new milking parlour installation was complete.
Mr Payne now operates a 16 unit milking parlour and has expanded the herd, milking 140 cows on the 200 acre farm. For the full 12 months of 2011 average TBC’s were 6,000, ranging from 3,000 – 16,000. Average Somatic Cell Counts (SCC) were 79,000 cells/ml for 2011 and the annual average was butterfat 4.17 percent, protein 3.42 percent and lactose 4.67 percent. Milk is collected every second day with SCC and TBC both assessed four times every month and with milk recording also in place.
“I am delighted with the switch to dairying; dairy farmers have a relationship with their cows that is quite unique,” he explained. “The cows are working closely with you twice a day, handled during milking and have a different temperament, being easier to handle and work with than many other animals. I found the Teagasc advisory service, web sites, booklets and information very good in terms of sourcing technical information and participating in Discussion Groups has also been especially helpful. I found that I wasn’t alone when trying to deal with particular challenges that arose and that farmers were able to help and learn from each other’s experiences in a very valuable way.”
A former rugby player with Mullingar, the local farmer is now a keen Leinster Rugby supporter and despite all his achievements on the farm this year, his sights are now firmly set on his wedding to Jasmin Toner which takes place in just a few months time. “I am delighted with the award, it is a great achievement and I am looking forward to the future ahead,” a delighted Mr Payne concluded.