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Seamus and Brian Molamphy

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Seamus and his son Brian are dairy farmers based in Castlelough, Portroe, Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Brian, who has qualified from Dairy Business in UCD in 2014, has successfully set up a partnership with his father Seamus. The farm is currently milking 130 cows on a 45 ha grazing block around the yard. In 2019, the farm sold 451 kg’s of milk solids per cow, feeding 760 kgs of concentrate per cow. There are 44 ha of out blocks.

Farmyard

The parlour which was built over the winter 2015, has 14 units and cluster removers. The collecting yard is the next issue to be resolved on the farm as it is coming under pressure as a result of expansion. There are 138 cubicles in total and slurry storage for all cows and replacements. There is accommodation to calve 12 cows at any one time and we have calf space for 75 calves at peak. Milk is transported to calves by trolley and calves are fed with a number of 10 teat feeders.

Grazing

There are 26 paddocks on the milking block which are roughly half 24hrs and half 36hrs. There is about 1.5 km of roadways plus a public road dividing the farm which we use to access 5 paddocks. This public road isn’t ideal but it is generally quiet for moving cows.  Water troughs are located in the middle of each field where possible with ¾ inch pipes and the farm is serviced quite well for water. Only the cows graze on the milking block with young stock and cull cows on outside blocks.

Machinery work

The contractor does 60 % of slurry, all pit silage work, bales, reseeding and fertiliser work for the two cuts of silage. The main tractor work done by Seamus and Brian  is feeding silage, fertiliser for paddocks, drawing of bales and slurry work around the grazing block following cows in the spring. Being in derogation I can see contractors doing more slurry work for us. We don’t have a dribble bar or direct inject tank and can’t see myself buying one any time soon.

What does labour efficiency mean to Seamus & Brian?

“Labour efficiency is being busy at the right time for the right reasons. Calving compactly can lead to a few weeks of intense work but in reality, it makes the rest of the year much more streamlined and easier. The difference between good farming and bad farming is generally one week”.

 

Weekly Updates 2020 

July

Week Ending
Sunday
Milking AM
(cups on)
Milking PM
(cups on)
No. of milkings 
by farmer
Farmers hours 
per week
Employee/family 
hours/week
Contractor used 
this week
2nd Aug 7:30 17:00 13 48 10 None
Comment I took time off Sunday and got the relief milker in Sunday evening. Last week’s work included 13 milking’s, spreading fertiliser on the silage ground and maintenance of the mower. We have a bag lifter on the back of the tractor and the manure spreader sits onto it. We have it 9 years now, it’s quicker as there’s no loader work required and it’s safer than other options.
Jul 26th 7:30 17:00 14 58 25 Silage
Comment Last week we had the contractor in for bales and pit silage. We made 90 bales from out block and milk block and 50 acres of 2nd cut. The pit was stripped on Monday. On Tuesday I drew in the bales because they were going onto the kale ground and it is important to have the spacing right. The pit was covered on Wednesday. We made more bales on Friday to keep quality right on the milking block. I spent 21 hours milking last week and the remaining 37 hours was nearly all spent at silage. Last week my father looked after the young stock and setting up the paddocks.
Jul 19th 7:30 17:00 13 50 15 None
Comment We had the contractor in for sowing 4 acres of redstart last week. This will feed 30 replacement weanlings for the winter. We aren’t short on accommodation this year but we will continue with redstart as we find animals thrive better and adjust to early grazing in spring easily. We walked the farm boundaries last week and found a nice few stakes that needed replacing. We decided to do this job last week. It took 10 hours in total. You'll find work on the farm if you want to. But now is a great time to get these jobs done when you have time on your hands.
Jul 12th 7:30 17:00 13 38 12 None
Comment We had the relief milker in to do a milking on Saturday evening. Last week was a quiet week. I took 4 half days off, which is why my hours are down.  We have plenty of grass and need to take some surplus paddock out soon. Cows are milking ok at 22 litres, 4.25% f%, and 3.58p%, feeding 1.5kg meal. I’d like to see the protein rising, it has stalled but now that grass quality is back on track hopefully it will rise.
Jul 5th   7:30  17:00  14  37  12 Scanning
Comment  I spent 24.5 hrs last week milking, 7 hrs herding, 2 hrs spreading fertiliser, 1 hr spreading dairy washings and 2.5 hrs loading the crush for the cows to be scanned. For Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I just did the milkings and herding. This time of the year gives great flexibility to take off a few hours during the day.

 

June

Week Ending
Sunday
Milking AM
(cups on)
Milking PM
(cups on)
No. of milkings 
by farmer
Farmers hours 
per week
Employee/family 
hours/week
Contractor used 
this week
Jun 28th 7:30 17:00 14 45 10 None
Comment The farm is easy to run these weeks. Jobs are being done at their ease. I worked 45 hrs last week of which 23hrs was spent milking, 6 hours tidying and organising the yard, 4 hrs fertiliser spreading, 3 hrs grass measuring and putting up wires and 9 hrs was spent topping paddocks that went very stemmy on the heifer block due to the drought.
Jun 21st 7:30 17:00 13 45 10 Fertiliser spreading
Comment Thankfully we didn’t have to feed silage yet. I worked 45 hours last week. For Friday, Saturday and Sunday I just did the milking’s and spent 30 minutes herding the heifers. The breeding heifers are now in one group and there are only 10 of the smallest calves on meal. We only feed meal for the first 6-8 weeks post turnout. They are on after grass and all reseeded ground so I don’t see the need for it. Feeding unnecessary meal increases costs and labour.
June 14th 7:30 17:00 14 50 5 None
Comment Growth is will back, at 25kg/per day. We are still feeding 5kg meal. I will keep walking the farm to decide when Ill feed silage. Last week we got the sheds ready for feeding silage. At least now if it happens I can just leave them in after milking for a few hours. We have feed space for all cows which is a great labour saver when cows have to be brought back in for feeding.
June 7th   7:30  17:00  14  50  Slurry 
Comment  The last of the slurry was spread on silage paddocks and dry paddocks last week. Ground is burning up here. Our demand is low so we are getting away with feeding 5kg of concentrates. Hopefully rain will come and we won’t have to feed silage. The silage cut early in the milking block is a blessing as it is back in now for the cows.

May

Week Ending
Sunday
Milking AM
(cups on)
Milking PM
(cups on)
No. of milkings 
by farmer
Farmers hours 
per week
Employee/family 
hours/week
Contractor used 
this week
May 31st 7:30 17:00 14 46 10 Silage
Comment We had the contractor for the first cut silage last week. We cut 75 acres. It took the contractor 9 hrs in total. Very efficient set up he has, particularly taking into account the long draws we had. Quantity is a bit back but quality was excellent. Timing was perfect. I organised neighbours to help cover the pit and some of the contractor’s staff also helped. This made the job very easy for me.
May 24th 7:30 17:00 14 52 10 Bales
Comment We took out 8 acres for bales on milking block last week. This is a fantastic way of keeping grass in good quality for the cows and reduces the need for topping.  Have 91% of cows submitted in the first 3 weeks of breeding. Got the vet out to check cows not served and over 30 days calved. Cystic cows were treated and 7 cows were missed in heat. Surprised by the missed heats, but glad I scanned now rather than later.
May 17th 7:30 17:00 14 52 10 Bales
Comment I had the contractor in last week for 12 acres of bales. We are still very much focussed on heat detection. I am watching submission rates each week. We are now at 75% with cows and have 1 week to reach 3 weeks of breeding. All heifers were AI'd in two weeks and the bulls let off last wednesday.  The heifers are very important for the calving pattern so I will be keeping an eye on repeats.
May 10th 7:30 17:00 14 50 10 None
Comment The main jobs on last week were milking, AI and heat detection. We don’t want any other jobs on for the first 3 weeks of breeding. If we get this right than we are setting the farm up very well for next year from a profit and labour point of view. Cows and heifers are watched 3-4 times per day.
May 3rd  7:30  17:00  14  65  20  Builder 
Comment  The extension to the pit was finished last week.  We extended the width by 10ft and added two silage walls. This will definitely reduce workload with bales. Breeding started with cows and heifers on Saturday. We watch the heifers for 1 week and then give estramate to whatever doesn’t come into heat. This works very well as the heifers are on an out block and it really reduces the amount of time bringing in heifers for AI.

 

April

Week Ending
Sunday
Milking AM
(cups on)
Milking PM
(cups on)
No. of milkings 
by farmer
Farmers hours 
per week
Employee/family 
hours/week
Contractor used 
this week
Apr 26th 7:30 17:00 14 65 20 Builder & Reseeding
Comment The builder was in last week extending the silage pit. Breeding is starting next Monday.  We sold 11 calves on farm last week. We have the last batch of heifers to get weaned soon. We will just be left with 6 surplus calves. The aim is to have all surplus calves sold by mid-May. This will be a big labour saver as feeding milk; bedding and cleaning sheds takes time.
Apr 19th 7:30 17:00 12 60 20 Bales & reseeding
Comment We had the contractor in to make bales on 9 acres of the first round that we skipped. We made a lot of bales last year as there was no room in the pits. The plan is to add onto the pit this year to reduce the labour required with drawing bales. The relief milker was in this week for two milking’s. With the bales and picking stones on the ground we are reseeding I decided I had enough for doing.
April 12th 7:30 17:00 14 50 20 Fertiliser spreading
Comment The contractor was in spreading fertiliser last week. He spread 70 acres of silage ground. It took him 3.5 hours. This is the third year getting this done. He knows the farm and where he is going. It used to take us the week in dribs and drabs to get it done and then if the weather breaks you are in trouble. Its cost neutral to get this done and saves me alot of time.
April 5th  7:30  17:00  14  60  10  None 
Comment  It was a quite week, the jobs were fairly route. Most of the big jobs are complete except for spreading the fertiliser on the silage ground. I have my contractor booked to spread this fertiliser and the fertiliser is ordered. I have the wires down and stones picked so that ground is all ready for the contractor now. Grazing is going well, we have 8 days left till we start the second round.

 

March

Week Ending
Sunday
Milking AM
(cups on)
Milking PM
(cups on)
No. of milkings 
by farmer
Farmers hours 
per week
Employee/family 
hours/week
Contractor used 
this week
Mar 29th 7:30 17:00 14 70 35 Slurry
Comment I had the contractor in to spread slurry on 35 acres of the silage ground. The student here also spread slurry to 20 acres of the milking ground. This meant I could focus on the cows and grassland management. 18 beef calves were sold on farm. All calve sheds were cleaned and re bedded. With the extra space available it makes cleaning the sheds an easier job.
Mar 22nd 7:30 17:00 14 60 15 Dehorning
Comment Cows are out full time since last Wednesday and heifers were moved to the out block on Saturday. All stock are out except 25 cows that are left to calve. We got 50 calves dehorned by a contractor last week. This is the first year that we have got someone in to do this job. It only took him 1.3 hrs on his own. It would have taken us half the day. Definitely will be getting him again.
Mar 15th 7.30 17:00 14 60 12 None
Comment Cows were out a few days on/off grazing last week. We are well behind grazing with only 10% grazed. It’s hard going but always great to have the yard cow free for a few hours. 15 bull calves sold this week. Great to get space freed up in the calf shed. The slurry tanks are starting to fill up. I moved slurry from one tank to another. This always adds to labour but when ground is not trafficable with machinery it’s the only option you have. With this weather I’m glad of the storage we now have.
Mar 8th 7.30 17.00 14 60 12 None
Comment Cows were out for 5 grazings last week. It was tough going but it gave us a break around the yard. Calving has slowed down. There is 103 calved out of the 140. Over the five weeks of calving I have had to get up a total of eight nights. I find that is manageable. The protocol is final check at 11 oclock then alarm set to 2.30am to check the camera and then out at 7 o clock for milking. On sundays the bare minimum is done like the milking and feeding calves. This allows for a break which is definitely needed.
Mar 1st 7:30 17:00 14 55 18 None
Comment Calving has slowed down. 86 calved out of 140. The first batch of 20 hol/fr bull calves was sold this week on farm. The same farmer has been buying them the last 3 years. We work well together. It is a big relief to have more calf space. We cleaned all calf sheds this week. Nothing sick but felt we could be on the verge of some scours. We have calving sheds cleaned twice at this stage. Two, very important jobs that need to be done regularly.

February

Week Ending
Sunday
Milking AM
(cups on)
Milking PM
(cups on)
No. of milkings 
by farmer
Farmers hours 
per week
Employee/family 
hours/week
Contractor used 
this week
February 23rd 7:30 17:00 14 69 24 None
Comment The student who has been helping me was on mid-term last week and was happy to do a few more hours. I prioritised getting all cows and heifers vaccinated for Lepto and BVD. We also got the calf shed cleaned and batched calves. With the extra help three very imporatnt jobs got done when they needed to be done.
February 16th 7:30 17:00 14 60 19 None
Comment I am noticing a big improvement with having adequate cubicles, feed space and calving space. It's much easier to split cows. There are four groups now, milkers, colostrum mob, near calving and later calving. It's also easier for checking cows and definitely has improved cow flow, cow health and makes life easier for the person looking after them.
February 9th 7.30 17.00  14 65  None 
Comment I have a secondary school student just after starting to do some evening work for the spring. It’s a great help as it means when I have the milking done I am finished. If I didnt have this help I would have to hold the cows up and lime the cubicles and then look after the calves.
February 2nd OAD  45  Slurry
Comment  Last year there was a new 50 cubicle shed with a calving area built. Already I can see the benefit of having more calving pens. It now means that even when in doubt expecially with heifers you have the space and can take them out and move to the calving pens. It streamlines the calving as you have one area to focus on for cows calving.