Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) has recently hired a new systems manager to visit farmers to give advice on environmental sustainability, feed efficiency and efficient cows.
This position has been secured by John Tobin from Kilkenny, where he lives with his wife Christine and two sons; Jack and Henry.Until his return home to the 'marble county', John had spent the last seven years working and living in New Zealand.
Having grown up on his family’s dairy farm in Tullaroan, he has a lifetime of experience in working in the sector; however, managing a herd of 650-cows in Whangarei in the North Island was quite a big change.
“Managing a 650-herd farm through an arid New Zealand summer during drought was certainly a challenging experience," John admitted.
“It’s far cry from the lush paddocks of Kilkenny, but with careful planning and diligent execution, you can get through these conditions when your genetics are right,” John said, whose new role is focusing on the management of LIC Ireland's bull breeding programme.
John originally started out in agribusiness by gaining a degree in Agriculture and Related Sciences from Cork IT in 2010.
He also worked with Teagasc at Kildalton Agricultural College and with Moorepark’s Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre in Fermoy.
After moving to New Zealand, he worked in the agricultural sector with ASB Group as Rural Account Manager in ASB bank, before taking a role as a regional Animal Nutrition Consultant with Nutritech Limited.
There, he provided consultancy advice to feed mills, dairy and beef farmers and agri-contractors.
The 650-dairy herd that John was managing in New Zealand happened to be owned by one of the LIC Directors, which is where he was first introduced to the company.
In a twist of irony, the LIC Ireland’s headquarters is based in neighbouring Cahir, Co. Tipperary.
Although John is happy to be home, he thoroughly enjoyed working in New Zealand too, where he won the National Sales Award for the “Herdtest” product in 2015.
He also won an award as Farm Solutions Manager for LIC. He worked with the breeder of one of LIC’s top Jersey bulls – Integrity, better known as OKT; the bull was even inducted to LIC’s Hall of Fame earlier in the year.
“It’s great to be back home again, especially seeing the children settle into a great part of the country with our families.
"New Zealand is an incredible country and there is so much I have learned from their operations, but it was always our plan to return home,” he said.
Not only will he be at home in Kilkenny, but the systems manager will eventually travel the length and breadth of Ireland, delivering a pasture to profit consultancy to farmers, helping them to improve the sustainability of their business.
Together with his background of farming both in Ireland and New Zealand, LIC European Manager, Mark Ryder has every confidence in John’s ability to deliver and said that his role will benefit their customers greatly.
“His experience in NZ, as well as his Irish farming experience, teamed with his knowledge of herd improvement, makes him a great addition to the team, said Mark.
As well as building on LIC Ireland bull breeding programme, he reiterates the company’s ‘pasture to profit’ target, “Turning grass into milk as efficiently as possible for farmers is the driver for LIC Ireland,” he said.
Grass management and farm efficiency is something that John feels very dedicated to and his enthusiasm shines through when he said that he hopes to “meet as many farmers as possible in the coming 12 months” and answer any questions that they have about breeding solutions.
“We are keen to hear from dairy farmers about what they need and I invite farmers to get in touch,” he concluded.
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