Hailing from near Tallow, Co. Waterford, UCD graduate Paul Tobin and his father run a dairy herd of approximately 70 cows. Read their story in full below.
Age - 23
Farm- Dairy farm of 70 Holstein cow, on approximately 200-acres in Tallow, Co. Waterford.
Parlour- 10-Unit Delaval (To begin building new one).
Performance - Butterfat: 3.93%, SCC: 171,000, Protein: 3.34%
The Tobin’s have been involved in dairy farming so long, that young farmer Paul Tobin was unable to recall what generation dairy farmer he was, so deeply is it embedded in his ancestry.
Paul had always been involved in the running of the farm as a youngster, but always intended on taking the reins at some stage. He is now in a farm partnership with his father, running a herd of 70 Holstein/Friesians.
“We are milking about 70 cows this year. We usually stay between 60 and 80,”, Paul explained to That’sFarming’s Kevin.
The Farm -
It is near Tallow in the Crystal county, that the farming pair run their enterprise on a 200-acre holding in total.
Approximately 100-acres of these lands are available to the grazing platform, though they are only milking about 60-70-acres at the minute. The pair are currently operating with a 30-year-old, 10-unit, Delaval parlour, with plans underway to upgrade their milking system.
“We are milking out of a 10-unit Delaval. It is about 30-years-old,”, Paul laughed.
“We are in the process of planning now, getting things up and running for the new parlour...It is a work in progress at the moment,”, he added.
The farming duties are mainly carried out by Paul's father, Michael, at the moment, with Paul helping out at weekends. This will change though, as he will be moving home next year, taking on a more hands-on role. The pair run a complete Spring calving system, with just wrapped silage fed to cows. Paul and his father take care of the mowing and tedding duties, with the local contractor called in to finish the job.
Breeding-wise, Paul actually carried out the entirety of the A.I on the farm up until recently. This was something he learned from one of his college lecturers and he reluctantly handed over these duties to an Angus Stock bull upon embarking on his accountancy career.
“For the past two years, I was doing the AI on the farm...A vet came in lecturing us about AI (at Moorepark) and he offered us the opportunity to do an AI course up in Rathdowney...I bought the flask and did the AI home, I don’t have the time anymore”, he said.
“Last year we were fully AI, but this year it is predominantly with an Angus bull...We did about four weeks of AI and then left the Angus bull out with herd,”, he added.
Calf-wise, the Tobin’s like to change things every year. They generally keep between 10-15 bull calves, all run on the outside farm. They then keep 15-20 heifers every year as replacements. Bull calves are sold depending on the market, with the father and son only opting to sell when prices are right.
Not one to jump straight home upon completing his secondary education, Paul instead ventured to Dublin, UCD more specifically, where he studied and completed a degree in Dairy Business.
This he felt offered him the best platform to take help prepare himself for a life in dairy farming, though he got bitten by business bug instead, for the time being anyway. But not before he and twenty other college students took in a trip across waters, to New Zealand to work on a 1,100 herd dairy farm.
“About twenty-one of us went over there from the course, to work on a dairy farm,”, he noted.
“We spent five months over there. We then came back and finished off third year and moved into fourth year. I did my interview for KPMG in November and I went from there,”, he continued.
Paul found the trip as a completely different experience and said the systems in place are a lot different than that at home.
“I was working on a 1,100 cow dairy herd...It’s different over there, it is more commercial farming,”, he said.
“Everything like the units are getting bigger. They are companies rather than farmers”, he noted.
As mentioned, upon finishing college Paul began work full-time as an auditor with KPMG in Cork and he is now looking to complete his accountancy exams.
“I did four years in Dublin and I took a trainee contract then with KPMG. I am studying to do the accountancy exams. I have just completed my first set of them,”, Paul said.
Although his education has taken him down a slightly different path in life, he still aspires to farm full-time, a goal he is determined to achieve.
Future Aspirations -
On the home front, Paul aims to get the farm running as efficiently as possible, before implementing any major changes.
“We have a good system going, but I want to ensure the once the numbers do increase, that our current system will be able to go with any increases”, Paul stated.
Otherwise, Paul has no immediate plans to return home on a full-time basis. He plans to keep his job in finance for another couple of years, to help build up some much-needed capital, to help cope with any future dips in market prices.
He will though return home full-time in the coming years, or “before forty” as Paul admits.
“It all depends on how my other career goes.”, he said.
Paul will also be living at home next year, meaning he can have more of an influence around the farm.
“I will be living at home next year, so I will be a lot more hands-on”, Paul noted.
Other than that the Tobin’s will continue as they are, bar finishing off newly installed roadways and completing plans for the new parlour.
Why farming? -
There are many reasons which tie Paul to a career in the dairy sector and drive him to keep farming as part of his life.
An animal enthusiast, Paul enjoys working closely with cattle, while he also enjoys the business aspect which now goes hand-in-hand with the operation of a dairy enterprise. Paul also enjoys meeting others within the sector and comparing notes with those who are in the same scenarios themselves.
“You still get the pleasure of dealing with animals every day...You are able to meet a lot of people in the same scenarios as well, like in the discussion group and that,”, Paul said.
“When your working in an office, it (farming) is a good way of unwinding,”, Paul continued.
Paul noted that a life in dairy presents a good, healthy type of lifestyle, while you are also your own boss, which is another plus in his book.
“Even working on a dairy farm. It is a good lifestyle, as you are fit and healthy and out in the open air a lot more,” he said.
“A lot of it comes down to being your own boss as well. You are able to control the direction of how your own business is going and you take more pride from it if you are putting in your own money”, he added.
A dairy farmer whose dedication to the industry is without doubt, Paul Tobin is firmly bringing business back to dairy farming. Always looking to improve, Paul is sure to be one of the industries future success stories. Regardless, Paul will proudly continue his family's long-standing connection to the sector and continue turning milk into money.