Eoin and Colette Toohey farm on the Offaly-Tipperary border, not far from Moneygall, which is probably better known for the Barack Obama motorway stop.
While Barack and Michelle wave to passersby in Moneygall, there is no time for waving on this busy dairy farm. Put your hand up in this farmyard and you could get a job. Similar to so many Irish operations, three generations of Tooheys farm at Cullenwaine, with Colette, Eoin’s wife, Jack, Eoin’s dad and all the boys David, Brian, Cathal and Killian all taking up various roles in between hurling and football training. Padraig Ryan and Edward Sutton also help out on the farm.
The Tooheys do a good bit of the work themselves, however the motto is start early to finish early to allow full attendance at training and get to all matches. We called to this farm not long after the infamous Tipperary-Offaly minor All-Ireland hurling final during the summer so needless to say tensions were running high when we landed.
Similar to the development of many grazing dairy farms, the Tooheys have invested significantly in grazing infrastructure. It’s what makes this farm tick, because it’s relatively long and narrow. An underpass close to the home house allows safe passage for everyone and connects up land available for grazing.
In total, 130ha are farmed with 64ha on the grazing platform. Eoin has been a long-time member of local discussion groups and has given and taken loads from his involvement with the South Offaly Discussion Group to allow the business get to where it is today.
Overall, whole farm stocking rate is 203kg/ha so this business is farming in derogation. About 35% of the farm is classified as being right in terms of overall fertility status.
Eoin’s dad bought this farm in 1972 and Eoin praises him for making significant changes to the business long before it was fashionable. He also allowed Eoin travel and get work experience elsewhere before coming home to farm at Cullenwaine.
The use of stock bull ceased in 1998, almost 25 years ago, and while depopulation in 2003 was a big set back it hasn’t prevented the Tooheys working hard to rebuild the dairy herd. Keeping enough quality stock and rearing them on Collette’s home farm has helped in this respect.
The herd are mainly a cross between Holstein and Friesian, but, there is some Jersey genetics also in the mix.
Contractors do the silage, slurry and hedgecutting which has allowed Eoin time to develop cow housing, resurface roadways, move back fences 1.5m from watercourses, and camber roadways away from watercourses.
Low-emission slurry spreading, a satnav for fertiliser spreading, using more clover and getting soil fertility right are key for this business.
The farm has grown to milking 215 cows in 2022. It is a very solid operation that has developed and grown significantly into a top operation.