Dunleer, Co. Louth man Seán Callan works as a Farm Management Support Advisor at Lely Center Mullingar.
At home, he divides his time between helping on his father Michael’s 420-cow-dairy-farm and playing football for St. Kevins in Philipstown.
Seán grew up on a beef and tillage farm until 2005 and then the Callans bought a second farm and progressed it into a larger beef unit.
When the economic crisis came, Michael decided to swap beef farming for dairy and from 2011, he used the second unit to do just that. Seán was just fifteen at the time.
The farmers were milking approximately ninety cows in 2009 and later increased that number to 220 in 2011.
They finally hit peak numbers last year with just under 500 cows.
Initially, the twenty-three-year-old wanted to be a mechanical engineer; however, halfway through the Leaving Cert, he had a change of heart and took up agricultural science to get into college.
It was thanks to the extra class that Seán took, that he got enough points to study at third-level. “I spent four years in UCD doing Animal and Crop Production,” he smiled.
In the spring of 2017, after graduating from UCD, he decided to take up a position managing a three hundred herd for two brothers in Kilkenny that were a new entry to dairy.
On the home farm, Michael Callan installed six Lely Astronaut A4 Robots that same year.
“The Lely Center had a job opening in the management support section and I enquired, did an interview and got the job,” said the footballer.
He spends quite a bit of time both in and out of the office, meeting farmers as a Farm Management Support Advisor.
The job involves spending a lot of time going from farm to farm, setting up grazing layouts and getting farms started.
“I go in and I take a look at the grazing block and I plan out where we would put roadways, drinkers, paddock fences and then that would normally be six months out from start-up” explained the Louth man.
A couple of weeks before start-up, Seán would go and visit the farms and see how work has progressed and implement a start-up plan. The idea is to monitor how farmers get through the first couple of weeks.
“You normally get three visits then after start-up for training and just fine-tuning things and making sure you’re hitting the targets you want to hit,” he added.
The advisor then returns to the farm for routine visits throughout the year.
Seán currently works with approximately 110 farmers in the area that operate just under 200 robots.
It would be reasonable to think that the work done at Lely would have a big influence on how the Dunleer farm is run.
The family have reduced their stocking rates to better cover the grass and the herd was culled to 420 cows.
The new robots that were installed have also given the dairy farm enough data to improve on overall output.
“We’ve really progressed in milk production and in herd health since we got the robots. We’ve added about seventy kilos of solids and a thousand litres per cow,” enthused the progressive farmer.
Last year, Seán’s father Michael averaged about 6,700-litres of milk and 556 Kilos of milk solids.
The UCD alumni has two younger brothers and one older sister that also help out on the family farm. “Barry (20) is very good with cows; he just loves working with the animals and cow husbandry, Conor (21) is the machine man,” he said of his siblings.
The Callan children were never pushed in the direction of farming; however, it was this freedom that allowed Seán to come to the decision that it is where he would like to be.
“I love the range of farms that I get to visit; I love collecting new ideas and bringing them with me. No two days are ever the same,” smiled the support advisor.
It is clear to see that Seán really enjoys his job and likes helping his customers to get the very best out of their Lely products and see them not just do well, but thrive.
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