Dairy convert Edward brings a scientific edge to farming

Dairy farming convert Edward Payne from Co Roscommon has been chosen as the 2014 Teagasc Student of the Year, a prestigious annual competition sponsored by FBD Trust.

A native of Ballymoe, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, Edward jointly manages the family farm with his father.

Until five years ago, the family was farming suckler cows and sheep, then they converted to dairy in advance of this year’s abolition of EU quotas.

The decision was made to convert to dairy farming and 140 dairy heifers were bought.

Edward now manages the dairy enterprise, which has expanded to 260 cows.

He completed a level six Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration at the Agricultural College in Mountbellew in Co Galway. He is also a keen supporter of Ireland’s scientific approach to improving the national herd.

“I am convinced of the need to use genomic bulls,” said Edward.

“Last year, our replacement heifer calves had an economic breeding index of 202. I aim to maximise milk from grass with concentrates kept to just 0.5 tonne per cow per annum.”

He measures and budgets grass weekly and has an ongoing grass-reseeding programme. Edward’s goal is to establish another dairy farm in the next five years.

He works very closely with his Teagasc adviser Seamus Nolan, and is involved in two farmer discussion groups.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney congratulated the 13 finalists who were chosen from almost 800 students who completed agricultural training programmes.

“The influx of so many enthusiastic, well-trained young people is a very positive development for the agricultural sector,” said Mr Coveney.

The first runner-up award went to Michael Kennedy, Bridestown, Glenville, Co Cork. He completed a level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Farm Management) at the Teagasc Agricultural College in Kildalton.

Michael manages the dairy home herd of 110 cows, as his father is in full-time employment off the farm.

Michael’s priority is to lift the current herd economic breeding index without compromising fertility.

The second runner-up award went to James Kealy, Bendenstown, Rathoe, Co Carlow who completed a Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in farm administration at the Teagasc Regional Education Centre, in Tinahely.

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