Farmer Focus: Barry O’ Sullivan


Catherina meets Barry O’ Sullivan who runs a dairy enterprise in partnership with his parents in Co. Meath. The Ballyhaise Ag. College graduate has travelled to Australia & Saudi Arabia.

Farmer Focus: Barry O’ Sullivan

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  • 14 days ago

Catherina meets Barry O’ Sullivan who runs a dairy enterprise in partnership with his parents in Co. Meath. The Ballyhaise Ag. College graduate has travelled to Australia & Saudi Arabia.

Barry O’ Sullivan has years of experience in the Agricultural sector under his belt.

The Ardcath, Co. Meath native has gained invaluable practical knowledge through his farming roots; a formal qualification and various managerial positions that he has held down through the years.

Barry graduated with a level-7 degree in Dairy Herd Management from Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Co. Cavan; worked as a manager on a 250-cow herd for 18-months and travelled to Australia for six months and worked secured a position as a mechanic and a position within the Agricultural industry.

After experiencing the wonders of dairy ‘Down Under’, Barry returned to the Emerald Isle and was appointed as manager of a 140-cow dairy farm for three-years and took yet another trip across the waters, this time to Saudi Arabia for eight months.

Farm Partnership

Drawn back to the picturesque setting of his home-soil, Barry returned back to his family farm three years ago and formed a farm partnership with his mother and father as recent as last year.

90 cows pass through the parlour of the trio’s thriving dairy enterprise - the majority of which are pedigree registered and managed under the ‘Osto’ prefix with Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) although the family has geared more towards cross-breeding with British Friesian genetics in recent years.

“The cows are milking 6,500-litres/year, with 3.35% protein and 3.9% butterfat. The cows are on a milking platform of 4.4cows/ha” Barry O’Sullivan told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.

“The cows only get out in March because we farm heavy soils. The cows get 2KGs of meal for the summer. I am only starting to take charge of the grassland management aspect of the farm - we measure grass weekly.” Barry highlighted.

Breeding Programme

60 of the cows calve down in the spring, while the remainder of the calves are born in the autumn period. An eight-week autumn breeding season is the core of the farm’s breeding programme; however, the spring season is not as compact as the calving window stretches from January right up until the mid-May.

A stockbull dominated the Meath-based holding up until three years ago, however when Barry returned to his native home-soil, he sparked the major shift towards 100% AI utilisation in a bid to push the herd to greater heights.

Sires are selected on the basis of milk and EBI, with FR2385; FR2298; FR2236 and FR2239 from Progressive Genetics leading the way for the O’Sullivan’s this year. On the beef AI front, Belgian-Blue and Aberdeen-Angus sires have been selected as an alternative to Herefords and progeny from these are sold on.

According to one of the most recent genetic evaluation run, the herd’s EBI tops out at €79, while the young stock has reported an EBI figure of €180.

“We look for about 160KGs of milk. With the EBI, we are keeping around the €250 mark, with an aim to improve protein and butterfat content.” Barry outlined.

Expansion

With their eyes fixed securely on expansion, the O’Sullivans are advocates of a 30% replacement rate, with intentions to increase this to 45% in 2019. To drive this change, thirty heifers were born on the farm in 2018, while an additional fifteen heifers calved were outsourced from reputable herds.

Future

Looking forward to the future, the O’Sullivan’s have intentions to achieve a target of 140 cows within a four-year period, with plans to expand all aspects of the enterprise.

“We are seeking permission to expand the herd - we are looking for an eight-unit cubicle shed and eighteen-unit milking parlour. The plan is to get the milking parlour constructed within five-years.”

“If we hit over 140 cows, we would potentially consider introducing Jerseys to the herd, as the crossbreds have better feet and this would be necessary to the increased size of the milking block.” Barry concluded.

If you are a cattle and/or sheep breeder and you want to share your story, get in touch - email catherinacunnane@gmail.com and you may just be featured on That’s Farming next week.

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