Shane Fitzgerald, who is a participant of the Teagasc/Glanbia Future Farm Open Source, returned to the family farm in 2016 after attaining a formal degree.
He now milks 200 cows, which have an EBI of €138, with his father in Portlaw, Co. Waterford. “We would have grown that from 120 cows five years ago and the plan was to increase by twenty cows over five years,” Shane explained.
The Kildaton Agricultural College/ Waterford Institute of Technology graduate outlined that his current five-year plan revolves around consolidating the herd and increasing production while farming the same land base.
“I look after the cows and grass and dad looks after machinery maintenance. The streamline things even further we contract-reared out the young stock.”
“When I came home from Kildaton first, the main focus was on improving the grazing infrastructure and the focus then changed to buildings.”
“You need to have facilities for the number of cows from a labour and animal welfare point-of-view.” explained Shane, who outlined that he and his father constructed a new cubicle shed in January 2019, expanded the parlour to 20-unit and changed their collecting yard.
The young farmer explained that he joined the Teagasc/Glanbia Future Farm Open Source Programme to share knowledge and to avail of networking opportunities. “I am also interested in the whole bio-diversity aspect of sustainability.”
“We are always trying to improve things on the farm to make it more sustainable. We are embracing things like the trailing shoe and protected urea.”
“I would say I definitely have a good work-life balance, but a lot of farmers don’t know. I know it has to be economically sustainable, but really, social sustainability is important too.”
“If I can’t be finished at 6 o’clock in the evening, I shouldn’t be at this really,” Shane concluded.