On this week’s young farmer series, Kevin speaks to Aine Murray who helps run one of the country’s top ten EBI herds on the Tipperary/Offaly border. Read her story below!
Name - Áine Murray
Age - 22
Farm - Milking 74-strong Holstein/Friesian milking herd. 120-acres.
Performance - 25.8 litres per day. Milk Solids 1.9kgs per day. Herd EBI €179.
Hailing from a dairy background spanning over three generations, Áine Murray and her family are exactly what the industry is all about.
Together they run a 74-strong milking herd on the family farm, near Birr on the Tipperary/Offaly border. They operate a real family-run enterprise, with most if not all of the Murrays have a role to play on the farm and have done since they were young. The majority of all work is undertaken by Áine’s father, Jim, while her sister Una also plays her own role on the farm as well as Áine herself.
“It is me and my dad involved, while my younger sister does a bit as well.” said Áine to That’s Farming’s Kevin.
Áine, as if she were not busy enough, also works as a relief milker for the local FRS, milking every evening for another local farmer.
Always Ag/Education -
To Áine, there was never any other alternative for her than a career in agriculture and it is something she has wanted from young age. This is why she pursued a career in the industry through her third-level studies.
Áine followed on from her secondary education and went onto study Agriculture in the University College of Dublin (UCD). She finished up her degree just this year, returning home to the Tipp/Offaly border to lend a helping hand in what was a busy summer.
She says she holds a strong interest in the dairy nutrition side of things and could possibly pursue a career in this field in the future. Áine does though, however, insist that she will always remain involved in the running of the home farm.
“I will always stay involved in what is going on at home and help with the decision making and that”, said Áine.
“I always loved animals and then coming from quite a progressive farm like at home, you always want to go on and do better”, said Áine.
The Farm -
The Murrays dairy enterprise is run on approximately 120-acres, of which 24 hectares (60-acres) makes up the grazing platform.
“I worked out the grazing platform on Pasture Base recently and it is around 24 hectares”, Áine explained.
Their herd is a Holstein/Friesian herd, which consists of 74-cows for milking daily and two homebred stock bulls. In fact, the farm is in the top ten performing EBI herds in the country (€179), something of which the Murray’s are very proud.
Milking duties are carried out twice a day on the family’s 12-unit Herringbone Gascoigne with automatic cluster removers and all milk is supplied to their local Arrabawn Co-op. The family, operating a spring calving system, aim to have all calved down by the end of April with calving starting early February.
“He (Jim) tries to stop breeding any cows that go into May, so we stick to the 12-week calving period”, said Áine.
Breeding is of paramount importance on the Murray farm, with a strong emphasis placed on producing cows with superior qualities and traits. To achieve this, the farm use predominantly A.I, with homebred stock Holstein/Friesian bulls used to mop up first-time heifers.
“It would be mainly A.I we use. Dad would A.I all of the heifers once. He keeps the best ones with the cows for a while and if they repeat he AI’s them again.” Áine said.
“After he (Jim) A.I’s them all the once, the main mob of heifers, he puts a stock bull with them that we have bred ourselves. Then he A.I’s all of the cows himself for nine weeks and he puts two stock bulls on the cows for the last three weeks”, she noted.
With regards to replacement heifers, Jim and the Murrays aim to calf 25 maiden heifers each year. For the first year, all of the maiden heifers are kept, before the top performing ones are picked out and the rest sold in Spring as yearlings.
“Dad will breed and keep about 25 of them for himself and then sell the rest” Áine noted.
As Jim also rears high performing stock bulls, he keeps twelve bull calves each year for sale to regular customers. The rest of any bull calves born are then sold off to neighbouring farmers for rearing at the earliest convenience.
“He keeps twelve of the top EBI ones and sells them as stock bulls”, Áine explained.
“The rest of them go to neighbouring farmers”, she continued.
The Murrays operate a paddock to paddock grazing system on one half of the farm, while on the other half of the farm they operate a strip grazing system. At the moment to help supplement the recent poor grass growth, the family are feeding 8kgs of meal per cow per day, as well as grass and silage.
“They are being fed well...We have land in some parts that is performing well, but the rest of it is completely burnt up”, said Áine.
Top Performing herd -
As mentioned, the Murray herd are currently in the top ten EBI performing herds in the country at €179, something which they work really hard to maintain and of which they are extremely proud.
“Dad got into the top ten about three years ago and he has been up and down the top ten for the past three years”, said Áine.
“Breeding is his (Jim’s) favourite thing, it is what keeps him going. He gets bulls into A.I centres every now and then and he just loves that” she added.
This is what pushes Jim and his two daughters on, to continually improve the farm and its performance in any way they can.
With regards to future plans, Aine aims to use her college education to pursue a career in the industry.
On the home front, the immediate plan of the Murray family is to work as hard as ever and maintain the excellent performance figures which have enabled them to ruffle some feathers in the EBI top performing herd list.
“I think we will keep doing what we are doing and do it well”, Áine stated.
“He (Her father) only has 74 cows but he is probably doing a lot better than someone with 100 cows,” she adds.
As always is the case, the Murrays will look to improve their already impressive enterprise further and continue developing the excellent reputation their herd has developed.
Why she loves what she does -
Passionate for animals and bitten by the agriculture bug from a young age, it was always highly likely that Jim would have Áine by his side helping out at home.
“I think at the end of the day we just love doing it (farming)” said Áine.
Driven, determined and passionate for the industry just like her father, Áine Murray exudes a grá for the industry and makes a worthy successor should Jim ever decide to hang up the overalls.
Would you like to be featured like Aine? Contact Kevin on firstname.lastname@example.org