Joe Barry has seen plenty of dairy farms in his previous role as AI technician for Munster AI. Seeing, hearing and watching farming with other young farmers has led to his recent attempts to restore balance in the environment in which he farms.

He has a GPS device in the tractor to reduce fertiliser waste. He has a bee box installed and is learning more and more about bees. He is measuring grass weekly, breeding high-EBI cows and he’s going to try “sowing” a multispecies sward. Slurry is spread with a dribble bar and he manages his work-life balance by hiring plenty of help for milking, allowing him get on with other jobs.

On-farm investment is good – a straightforward 16-unit herringbone parlour with automatic cluster removers makes milking the 96 cows less of a chore.

Joe Barry and family with (l-r) Maurice Shine, Teagasc, Caroline Hedigan and Darren Deasy, North Cork, David Gleeson, Teagasc and Patrick Wall, UCD.

Joe had Emma Sherlock on evening milking duty the day we called.

Milk production

Milk production is 532kg of milk solids per cow excluding milk fed to calves. Meal feeding was 1.1t fed per cow in 2020 and Joe used 212kg of nitrogen per hectare. Joe has 26ha available for grazing around the parlour and farms 44ha in total.

Grass measurement is carried out weekly and milk recording is four times per year. Sixty per cent of the nitrogen spread is protected urea and the dribble bar gets the slurry out.

As a former AI technician, many will be wondering what type of sires Joe is using. Eight AI sires were used in 2021 after selecting a team that rated above +0.18% fat, +0.15% protein and +18kg of milk solids (fat and protein combined).

Joe Barry installed a beehive last year near the ruins of an old castle on his farm at Castlemagner in north Cork.

Joe reckons he’s making progress on better fertility and milk solids produced. He puts it down to improving soil fertility, reseeding and better breeding.

Surrounded by large mature trees with the river Ardine running along the bounds of the ruins of Castelmagner Castle, it all makes for an idyllic setting and lots of natural wildlife.

Joe is cool, positive and willing to make changes. Family is a key a key part of his work-life balance.

The whole mix makes him a good ambassador for dairy farming and a beacon for other young farmers to look up too.