Tom Paul Keane and his dad, John, are farming at O Brennan, Kielduff, Tralee, Co Kerry.

When we called to pay them a visit, they were fresh from the morning milking and had already selected a couple of special cows in the herd for the Kerry Holstein Friesian breeder judges who were expected later in the day.

John started farming here in his own right in 1980 and, by 1984 when quotas were established, the Keanes had 30 cows milking. In 2020, there were 145 cows milking and that number has grown to 184 cows this year.

About 25% of the milk produced on this farm every year is delivered during the winter months of November, December and January.

Lee Strand has a requirement for fresh milk during the winter to keep local towns supplied. John’s son, Tom Paul, started farming full-time in 2014 and since then the farm has stepped it up another level with investment in cubicle sheds and slurry storage. The farm now has cubicles for 230 cows and 60 heifers. The parlour is a 10-unit herringbone so that is the next investment on the Keane wishlist.

In total, 72ha are farmed and the cows can walk to 50ha. The Keanes have a forage wagon for making their own silage and there were plans for more reseeding under development beside the parlour when we called.

The Keanes are in GLAS and also have a parcel of hen harrier managed area that is a feeding ground for this bird. The dribble bar is used to spread slurry.

About 20% of the herd are dried off using teat sealer only. The other big move that the Keanes are trialling is sexed semen.

All replacement heifers are now served with Friesian sexed semen. Breeding and breeding cows from good family lines is a passion for Tom Paul and he quickly singled out a number of cows that had daughters in the herd that he was proud to have bred.

The Keanes will do it their way, the Kerry way, and with the display of hard work and dedication we witnessed I’ve no doubt they will succeed.