Kerry man Karol Kissane, a Nuffield Scholar 2018 made two massive life-changing decisions back in 2013.
Taking a leap of faith, Karol decided to hang up his boots as a qualified chartered accountant and tax consultant and made the switch from part-time beef farming to full-time dairy farming.
It was a rather risky venture to undertake, but 38-year-old Karol looks back on this major milestone with great pride.
His farming venture may initially appear like a natural progression as his background is notably steeped in a family farming tradition.
The family have also been renowned for managing a well-established suckler farm comprising of eighty Charolais breeding females.
Karol’s life in education has been far from the norm and he put his school bag to one side at the age of sixteen.
However, four years later he dug the books out once again to home-school himself in preparation for the Leaving Certificate.
With success on his side, Karol enrolled in a degree programme in Cork Institute of Technology.
Once Karol graduated, he gained full-time positions with well-known financial company’s right through the island including Bank of Ireland, BDO and FEXCO.
Despite his demanding work commitments, Karol has always juggled a farm on a part-time basis, but it was always his long term goal to identify a way to lead a full-time farming lifestyle and so the big jump occurred.
“When I evaluated the amount of labour involved, dairy farming seemed to be the most suitable option, but to be honest I hadn’t milk a cow before I started dairying.” I am much happier dairy farming and this is what I want to do.” Karol told That’s Farming.
The Kissane’s farm is a rather busy yet admirable operation and it continues to drive for success.
In order to kick-start the new dairy farming venture, a new 14-unit Dairymaster milking parlour along with feeders and bulk tank was installed, which was assisted greatly by TAMS I.
A total of 100 Holstein Friesian cows calved down earlier this spring and now dominate the pastures of the farm based in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry.
The milking block comprises of 110 acres of grassland, along with an additional 40 acres of land on out-farm, which is utilised for heifer-rearing and silage-cutting.
Like the majority of farmers, Karol’s day is a hive of unpredictable activity, but the set routine of 6am/6pm is the only task that he can be assured is most definitely going to have to be carried out.
The remaining hours of the day ensures that Karol is left far from idle and is dedicated to an array of tasks including Grassland management, the maintenance of buildings and roadways and those all-important breeding decisions, which dictates the future genetic merit of the herd.
“Almost every day is different and that is what I really enjoy about dairy farming. The variety that the farming lifestyle offers is something that is rather truly unique. The workload is far from a routine and is most certainly not of a repetitive nature. Every day is a school day.” Karol explained.
Karol’s success most certainly has not stopped here and he continues to climb the rank as a leading Irish dairy farmer.
He currently sits as the chairperson of his local Teagasc Knowledge Transfer Discussion Group, with meetings hosted on a regular basis.
Karol became a member of Kerry Breeder’s Holstein Friesian Association earlier in the 2017 calendar and was the recipient of a very prestigious New Entrant Award, which recognised his sheer passion and outstanding efforts to date.
In recent weeks, Karol has been informed that his application for the Nuffield Scholarship programme has been successful and among many other scholars will kick-start his studies in 2018.
“While the topic has not been completely locked in yet, I am hoping to base my study on labour issues in Ag.” Karol explained.
Wise Words of Wisdom
As someone who didn’t take a direct path in the Agricultural industry but is most certainly leaving his mark in the sector, Karol proves himself as an ideal candidate to give advice to young aspiring farming enthusiasts.
“My advice is to talk to as many people as you can and get in contact with as many farmers as possible in your locality. They are the best people to get advice and guidance from which proves to be ideal when you are a starting out farming. Find a mentor, just someone you can drop a quick call to and run something by them.” Karol said.
While Karol’s dairy farming career is only in its infancy and his next big trek around the globe is set to take centre stage starting next year, many other plans are stirring in the pipeline.
One of his major targets is to calve down approximately 115 Holstein Friesian females next year, which is going to be achieved due to the addition of a number of replacement heifers.
“I would also give some consideration to expansion in a further five years’ time, but it would have to make financial sense and suit my personal circumstances because of the additional labour involved. A number of factors would have to be reviewed before I would progress with that. Grassland management is a priority for me at the moment.” Karol explained.
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