Mark Cassidy, Kells, Co. Meath, returned home to farm full time in the mid-1990s and since then, has grown his family’s enterprise from humble beginnings.
At that stage, the farm was milking 40 cows and supplying a liquid milk contract.
It has grown considerably in recent years on the back of maximising the use of grazed grass in the diet.
Mark started measuring grass in the mid-2000s, and the farm while impacted by drought last year, grew 12.8t DM/ha.
The enterprise is home to a spring-calving cross-bred herd, which produced 509 kgs of milk solids per cow in 2022.
The Cassidy farm has calved 390 cows in 2023 and the EBI of the herd is €207.
It has a 6-week calving rate of 83% and heifer calves are contract reared and have been done so by the same farmer for the past six years.
The farm is 153 ha in size with a milking platform of 115 ha and can be best described as a labour-efficient farm.
Good structure, defined roles, and a recognition of the importance of work-life balance are key to the farm, in his opinion.
It was Mark’s time abroad before he returned to full-time farming in Ireland that shaped his farming philosophy and how he would set up his farm for the future.
Having worked on enterprise in the Netherlands and in New Zealand, he got to witness first-hand the benefits of a structured work week and the importance of work-life balance for staff, who would return refreshed after their weekends away from the farm.
Mark has two full-time staff on the farm, David and Sarah, who have both been with him for the past two years. There is additional support at calving for circa 10 weeks and relief milking is provided by students.
A staff meeting takes place every Tuesday on the farm where priority items for the week ahead and items of note are discussed.
Sarah and David have defined roles on the farm with each undertaking one milking per day.
The farm has standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for all farm activities which are contained in the farm manual.
The farm manual is to support all staff on the farm, to outline how tasks should be completed on the farm and to ensure there is no ambiguity.
Mark is always looking into ways of incorporating technology to streamline the system on his farm.
Anything that will enable him or the team working on the farm to carry out their tasks remotely or with the use of automation is an area of interest to him.
Mark sees the advances in technology as a way to continue to improve his farm and make it “a nicer, easier, and smarter place to work”.
IGA Dairy Extravaganza 2023
Cassidy will open the gates of his farm to the public as part of the Irish Grassland Association’s two-day dairy extravaganza in the Northeast this July.
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.
The first day of the Dairy Extravaganza is kindly sponsored by Yara and will incorporate a farm visit to the farm of Mark Cassidy in Kells at 4 pm, followed by a social
Steak BBQ Night with music in the Headfort Arms Hotel Kells Co Meath.