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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Grass to the fore on Cavan farm with 110 dairy cows & 15,000 hens

David Brady has effectively integrated labour between a dairy enterprise and free-range poultry business in Tierlahood, Stradone, Co. Cavan.

He returned home to farm with the initial focus on the poultry side of the business, at the time when his parents, Brian and Daphne, milked a 30-strong herd.

But, with “steady” growth over the years, the dairy arm of the enterprise has grown to include 110 cows carried on a 40ha (2.75 LU/ha) milking platform, alongside a 30ha support block dedicated to replacement stock and silage ground.

Meanwhile, the poultry enterprise, which comprises two houses and 15,000 hens, is managed in conjunction with David’s brother, Kieran.

But, given its nature, it is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ requirement for labour input most days.

His wife, Rachel, and their three children: Eoghan, Daniel and Kate, all give time to the farm, are all involved in the running of the enterprises.

The EBI of the herd is €212 with €63 from milk and €98 fertility.

His cows produced 541Kgs of milk solids in 2022 at 4.44% fat and 3.63% protein and an SCC of 94K, from a feet input per cow of 1.2t.

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Fertility performance in 2022 was excellent with textbook KPIs of 363-day calving interval, an 82% 6-week calving rate with 100% of the heifers calved at 24 months.

David’s key focus had been on “driving milk solids production through a combination of breeding for fertility and kilos of fat and protein using high EBI genomic sires while also a key focus on cow selection”.

In 2015, the Cavan native joined the Teagasc Heavy Soils Programme and at this time, also began grass measuring and began the steady development of the grassland productivity and grass utilisation on the farm.

IGA dairy extravaganza host farm

Brady is set to share an insight into his journey as part of this year’s Irish Grassland Association (IGA) two-day dairy extravaganza in the northeast.

Dairy farming enthusiasts will flee to Kells Co. Meath which will play as a base for the event over the two days on July 17th and July 18th, 2023.

Delegates can enjoy three exciting and informative farm visits between Kells and Cavan and a Steak BBQ evening in the Headfort Arms Hotel.

The key areas of grassland management that David will discuss include land improvement and his approach to drainage, placing a major emphasis on soil fertility, reseeding and clover incorporation and infrastructure to achieve high grass utilisation.

David will highlight his ‘grass before cows’ approach to steady expansion, his approach to managing the growth capability of the land and the appropriate stocking rate for his system.

Central to this has been David’s attitude to testing the boundaries of what is possible on a farm of challenging soil type in a high rainfall area while also dealing with land fragmentation.

Moreover, he has adapted a successful system of grass production and utilisation and is critically producing grazing swards of high quality on a consistent basis.

The shoulders of the year pose their own problems and if they are not dealt with, have knock-on impacts, on both grass quality and cow performance.

David will share his strategy to deal with this on the day, and how the farm has evolved and developed over time into a successful, profitable entity.

See a previous profile on another host farmer, Mark Cassidy.

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