James McCarthy is farming at Reenascreena, Rosscarbery, Co Cork.
Fairly typical of west Cork, when you walk back up the farm you can see for miles around and look over the patchwork countryside that is busy with trees, ditches and small roads.
The Carrigfadda hill walk runs adjacent to the farm, so James always has plenty of hill walkers keeping an eye on what’s happening on the farm, especially in the summer months.
James is farming for over 40 years and, up until 2002, he was also working off farm in the construction trade.
When that sector took a dip, James decided that he’d go farming full-time.
Herd size has increased gradually over the years, but in west Cork it was hard to increase much during the quota years so it wasn’t until 2015 that a significant volume increase was possible.
James and Mary have two children, Shane, who has just completed final exams in agricultural science in MTU, and Aoife, who is studying arts international in UCC.
James hasn’t started using protected urea yet and uses a combination of urea and compounds
Again typical of west Cork, spring-calving starts in late January or early February, so only a small volume of milk is supplied in December and no milk is supplied in January.
James can get out with slurry early in the year with the trailing shoe and this helps to reduce chemical fertiliser as slurry is targeted at the paddocks that are low in phosphorus and potassium.
James hasn’t started using protected urea yet and uses a combination of urea and compounds. Over the last number of years as he needed more grass to feed more cows, lime has been spread to help pH and clover oversowing has started.
In 2020, 84 cows were milked. Grazing area is limited and 24ha are available to the cows, with 73ha farmed in total. Herd EBI is €129 and the replacement EBI is €168.
Water for washing the plant is heated with gas so hot water is on demand
James has a colourful mix of cows with some pure Jersey cows, some crossbreds and some purebred Holstein Friesians.
Water for washing the plant is heated with gas so hot water is on demand. The routine is to rinse the plant first with 14 litres per cluster. Wash through a solution of Avalksan CF (800ml) in 90 litres of hot water (750C). Circulate this for eight to 10 minutes and let it run to waste.
The plant is then rinsed again with cold water. In the evening, this same routine is repeated using cold water instead of hot water.
For 2020, TBC stayed well under 10 for most of the year with the thermoduric reading well under 50 also.