Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics
Placeholder image

Navigating Plans to Double Dairy Herd

10 September 2018
Type Media Article

Since taking over the running of the family farm at Rathkeevan, just outside Clonmel in Co. Tipperary Paddy O’Gorman has almost doubled the size of his dairy herd. Farm walk Thursday, 27th September at 11am

Paddy O’Gorman has almost doubled the size of his dairy herd in the last decade, since he took over the running of the family farm at Rathkeevan, just outside Clonmel in Co. Tipperary.

Having grown up on the farm Paddy was keen to broaden his skills and have the opportunity to travel. He initially studied Structural Engineering in Cork Institute of Technology before travelling to Australia for a year. He says it was, without a doubt, a useful experience. ‘It helped me to be more open minded and to learn to learn - to research information. These are skills I use on my farm today.’

Paddy’s parents, Michael and Maria, ran a dairy and beef enterprise on the family farm.   When Paddy returned to take over the running of the farm in 2009 they had 100 cows in the dairy herd and all calves were kept on the farm. Although his parents are retired, they still help out and offer helpful advice. ‘Dad understood how important it was to look after stock and to know what was going on. He always kept a careful eye on the figures.’

Paddy completed a Green Cert, went to Open Days and got actively involved in Discussion Groups. He has found Discussion Groups to be a core way of finding solutions, keeping up to date and learning about new ways of doing things.

He made decision to focus 100% on dairy farming, supplying manufacturing milk to Glanbia. Paddy had grown the herd to 140 cows by 2014 when he was asked to join the Teagasc Glanbia Monitor Farm Programme. It aims to help dairy farmers promote sustainable growth post-quotas.

His five year plan drawn up for the programme is ambitious. Paddy aims to have 200 cows in the herd by 2019. His expansion plan is on track, milking 190 Holstein Friesians in 2017, with 85 1-2 year old replacements and 70 0-1 year olds, all reared on the farm. He has leased extra land this Spring, increasing from 88 hectares to 100 hectares, with a milking platform of 60 hectares.

‘I’ve learned a lot from the Monitor Farm Programme, it’s been very positive. I have good contact with the Teagasc advisers. The other farmers in the programme act as a Discussion Group as well.   I have good contact wiith them too and get a lot out of meeting with them.’


There have been significant changes on the farm since getting involved in the programme, such as changes to work practices and financial management.

‘The Monitor Farm Programme has helped me to keep a very sharp eye on all of the figures – be it grass, milk yields but also finances. In the past I might intend to measure grass weekly, but might sometimes put it off if things were busy.  Now I am much more focused and measure grass rigorously every week.’


Paddy says that breeding is an area which has seen significant improvement. In 2014 Paddy had 70% of heifers calving between 22-26 months.   In 2017 he had increased this to 100%.   With research indicated that over 90% of heifers should calve at two years of age for economic and lifetime productivity reasons, this is a big plus.  The six week calving rate has improved from 69% in 2014 to 85% in 2017.

This has been achieved by focusing on improving live weight gain, which is a big factor in heifer performance. Paddy now weighs heifers and looks at body condition scoring regularly – and acts on the information.  He is able to make better decisions because he knows which heifers he needs to focus attention on.

Heifers are now split into two groups: lighter and heavier animals, with the lighter ones getting preferential feeding.  Paddy decided to sell bull calves rather than rearing them, which means more grass is available for spring grazing by the yearling replacements with the lighter group turned out earliest.

In spring 2016, Paddy decided to use easy calving dairy AI on the heifers for the first time which has worked well and also contributes to the higher average weight at the start of the breeding season.


In the three years from 2015 – 2018, Paddy has invested €541,000 on putting in the infrastructure to support his farm expansion.

He invested €265,000 on a 26 unit herringbone milking parlour and dairy and €30,000 on bulk tank. The parlour is open plan with good cow flow and designed to be as labour efficient as possible.   It has cluster removers, variable milk pumps, vacuum pumps and a plate cooler – and the capacity for one person to milk 180 cows per hour.

Paddy invested €120,000 to increase accommodation with housing practically doubled to accommodate 250 cows. He has also invested in field infrastructure, silage slab and slurry storage.

With borrowings to support investment at this scale, Paddy is managing finances very carefully. He is working with a six year financial plan but is keeping a regular eye on Profit Monitor and cash flow figures.

The overall net profit per dairy hectare has more than doubled, increasing from €600 to €1,289 between 2014 and 2017. During the same period net profit per cow increased from €563 to €678.

Paddy has increased average milk yield from 4,330 litres per cow in 2014 to 5,117 in 2017 with milk solids per cow increasing from 337 Kg to 416 Kg in that time.   If you look at the improvements in milk solids per dairy hectare they have gone up from 723 in 2014 to 1,207 in 2017.


When you need to produce as much milk off the milking platform as possible, good grass is essential.

Paddy has reseeded 50% of his in the last 4 years. He is measuring grass weekly and acting on the figures, with surplus turned into bales.  The land is mapped now with improved water and upgraded roadways.

In 2017 milking platform stocking rate was 2.79 (Lu/Ha). Paddy is currently growing 14.6 tonnes of DM/hectare which has improved from 13 in 2015.

Paddy has also improved soil fertility on this dry, free-draining land, with pH >6.3 at 90% in 2017 up from 36% in 2015.   P Index 3/4 was up to 80% in 2017 from 50% in 2015; and K index 3/4 was at 68% in 2017 from 55% in 2015. 


Paddy is navigating his progress steadily as the farm expands, aiming to have a sustainable system that can be managed in a simple way.  

He is doing this with the support of a full time student each year, which is working out. Paddy enjoys rallying when he can and following motor sports at home and overseas - navigating off-farm when the opportunity arises.