A Longford dairy farmer has won the overall Connacht Gold Milk Quality Award after beating off strong competition during his campaign.
Moydow man, John Payne - a new entrant to dairy farming - won the top accolade after competing against 1,000 other suppliers from across 10 counties, recently. He was presented with his award in Carrick-on-Shannon last week. Payne farms 150 acres at Torboy, Moydow and converted from sucklers and sheep to dairying just two years ago, making his achievement this week, all the more noteworthy. He is currently milking 105 cows and his herd held an average yield of 6,000 litres (1,300 gals) per cow in 2011, with 4.17 percent butterfat, 3.42 percent protein and 4.67 percent lactose. “The plan is to increase cow numbers to in and around 150,” a delighted Mr Payne stated. “It’s just 24 months now since we converted into the dairy sector, and I suppose the reason why that happened, was because there was such uncertainty around the Single Farm Payment (SFP) after 2013. Also we were probably generating enough income for my father’s family but not enough for a second family, so it became time to consider other options available to us.”
Soon after that, the south Longford native attended a Teagasc convention where he was introduced to a very manageable dairy sector initiative. “There I saw a system that seemed very sustainable to me,” he added. “I intend going down the cross breading route, so the system creates a more manageable cow gridding and better grassland management system. The plan is to keep going the way I’m going and continue to produce good quality milk. When I was starting out, I got a bout of Mastitis with the herd and I realised that I would have to learn very quickly if I was to succeed with the plans I had. It’s all about identifying contaminated cows early on in the lactose system and then learning to control it.”
The south Longford winning farmer graduated in 2001 with a degree in Agricultural Science from Harper Adams University and subsequently joined his father, Roy on the family farm. He is getting married in November to Jasmine Toner from Co Meath who is also a graduate of Harper Adams University. During the presentation, Aaron Forde, Chief Executive Connacht Gold said, “John is a perfect example of a highly educated and motivated young farmer who will be central to an efficient and expanding Irish dairy industry in the future”.