In this week’s dairy focus, That’s Farming, speaks to Mícheal Cullinane about his popular TikTok and Instagram accounts, dairy farming and LGBTQ Pride Month.
“Growing up in rural Ireland in the farming community, I knew no one who was gay. So I felt like being gay was an illness and that I should be ashamed for being gay.”
“But in the last ten years, with the support of my friends and family, I have learned it is completely ok to be gay in the farming community.”
Those are the words of Mícheal Cullinane, a part-time dairy farmer, a full-time support worker in the intellectual disability sector and popular TikTokker.
The Cork native recently penned a powerful post on his growing Instagram account in the hope of “encouraging future generations that it is acceptable to be gay in the farming community”.
He desires to highlight the importance of supporting the LGBTQ community, particularly in rural Ireland and advocating diversity and inclusiveness.
“There is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, I am lucky to live in a country where it is accepted to love who you love and marry them.”
“Growing up, I thought that I would be an old aged bachelor living by myself, but knowing that I have friends and family who love me for who I am and that I live in a country where it is legal to marry a same-sex couple, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.”
“I know it is tough for some people out there dealing with their sexuality, but stay strong because someday you could meet the one. Happy Pride Month, everyone.”
The Cork native has over 20,000 TikTok followers and boasts just shy of 1,000,000 likes on the video-sharing social network. To date, some of his most popular clips have garnered between 100,000-200,000 views.
He hopes to mirror this success with his newly created Instagram account, which has gained over 200 followers in the past fortnight.
“I started posting on my TikTok page in early February, and I made my Instagram page in mid-May,” he told That’s Farming.
“On TikTok, I post comedy videos about growing up on an Irish farm and the jobs I must do. Then, on Instagram, I post my personal pictures, and I give information about our family farm and the jobs we do.”
“I wanted to show the farm’s fun side; not everything has to be taken seriously. Also, I wanted to show people that it is ok to be different and not know the different tractor models,” he laughed.
Dairy and beef enterprise
Cullinane utilises his social media accounts to provide an insight into his family-run 500-acre dairy and beef farm.
His father and older brother are the enterprise’s main workers, overseeing its daily running. On the other hand, his mother assists with milking and administrative duties, while the family enlist a farmhand’s help for morning and evening milkings.
“Farming is a family tradition; both of my parents come from farming backgrounds. My brother and I are the third generation on our family farm.”
“We have always been dairy farmers for as long as I can remember, but we also fatten cattle for the factory.”
As Mícheal works full-time, he uses his spare time to help on the farm “to ease the pressure for my parents and brother as they are working non-stop”. His primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to, milking and calf care, among other tasks.
The family have expanded their dairy herd to include 280 British Friesian and Jersey-cross cows in recent years. “We have the land to do so, and it is suited to our lifestyle.”
“The reasons we milk British Friesians is because they have high milk yields, so they produce high milk volumes. We milk Jersey cows because their milk has high butterfat and high protein contents.”
The young farmer’s ideal cow is a British-Friesian-cross-Jersey as they, he explained, combine the aforementioned traits. “They would have high milk yields and a good butterfat and protein content in their milk. They also have a nice colouration.”
“We have a ten-unit parlour at the moment, and it takes us about three hours to milk the cows altogether. So we milk cows twice a day, morning and evening. Furthermore, we hope to expand our parlour in the next year or so to a 24-unit to ease the workload for us.”
Performance and breeding programme
Currently, cows within the all-year-round calving herd are yielding, on average, 5,500 litres at 4.50% butterfat, 3.90% protein and 4.00% lactose.
“The level of concentrates that we use is as follows: We feed early calved cows 3kgs of hghi-energy 16% dairy nuts and reduce to 2 kgs when grass is plentiful.”
A team of Charolais, Hereford, and Angus stock bulls run with the 280-cow herd. “We used these breeds of bulls to produce dual-purpose offspring that we can use for dairy or beef.”
The family keep all heifer calves as replacements, serving these at 24-30-months, and either sell male progeny as calves or retain them to bring through to slaughter.
“What I like about dairy farming is that it makes me feel closer to my family. It is something that we are all passionate about. I also like the different jobs that you have to do each day as you are doing a different task each day,” he added.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted his family farm in a positive way as it bought us closer together as a family.”
“When marts were closed, my dad stayed home and did a few extra jobs around the place, which eased pressure off my brother.”
“In the first lockdown, I was not working as much. So, I was around more to help on the farm and started to enjoy it. So, I would say Covid-19 had a good impact on the farm for us.”
“I only started to gain an interest in farming in the last year or so. I find something new every day that makes me enjoy it.”
“Also, farming has brought me closer to my dad and brother. I feel like I am learning the family trade from them,” he concluded.”
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