David O’Leary, 2020 Young Grassland Farmer of the Year
2020 Young Grassland Farmer of the Year David O’Leary joins Emma-Louise Coffey on this week’s Dairy Edge podcast to give an insight into his pathway into dairy farming and the excellence in grassland he is achieving on a challenging soil type.
David began part-time with his neighbour Tommy Roche at the age of 16 and continued to work with him throughout college. Then in late 2016, he approached Pat and Helen O’Connor about leasing their dairy farm.
David worked with the O’Connors in the spring of 2017 to get a feel for their farm and the land and officially started leasing the farm in January 2018. Prior to the lease starting, the O'Connors invested in a new bulk tank, a new meal bin and 2 additional units on the milking parlour. In 2018, David milked 48 cows and the herd has since grown to 80 cows in 2021. David got sufficient finance from the bank to purchase 13 heifers and some machinery from the O’Connors existing farm but the remaining 35 cows were from Tommy Roche over a six-year period.
David explains that the farm has some heavy soils and is located in a heavy rainfall area. Grazing infrastructure and flexibility in grazing plans are key to a successful grassland management. The farm is growing 14 tonne DM/ha from 180 kg Nitrogen/ha and David owes this to near perfect soil indexes as well as a high proportion of reseeding annually.
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