Name: Aaron Ryan
Farm: Milking over 360 cattle, soon to be 600.
Parlour: 20 unit (each side) herringbone.
Location: Rotorua, New Zealand.
Hailing from the Bruff area of Co. Limerick, Aaron comes originally from a dairy farm, though his father stopped this to run a Suckler farm and has done for as long as Aaron can remember. This herd was based off a Simmental pedigree herd originally before the family began crossing Charolais with them.
“It was (home farm) a dairy herd back in the day when I was young, but from what I remember it was always a Suckler operation.”, Aaron explained.
His father runs the dairy-beef operation, rearing Friesian bull calves, on approximately 80-acres of land in the county, though Aaron’s involvement has been minimal, having left these shores at the tender age of 18.
Surprisingly, Aaron never had the intention of following in his father’s footsteps, though life can throw up many a surprise.
Journey into dairy/Travels:
As mentioned, Aaron’s journey into the dairy sector is far from typical. After leaving Ireland for Scotland, Glasgow, at 18-years-young, Aaron set off to study Civil Engineering.
“I then got offered a job with a contracting firm for Scottish power, before I even finished the course. So, I didn’t bother finishing it…I did that for a few years around Scotland”, he explained.
This was only to mark the beginning of a career in agriculture, with more in the pipeline for Aaron, not that he knew at this stage.
“I then wanted a change, so I rang a mate of mine who was working in New Zealand…He got me a job driving tractors with a contracting crew.”, Aaron said.
After this, came a job offer from “out of the blue” on a directional drilling crew, putting in water pipes and much more. Aaron completed a job with a local dairy factory, through this work and eventually ended up gaining employment as a farm worker on a nearby dairy farm, only two years ago.
“That was only two years ago. I really enjoyed it and it turns out I was actually very good at it,”, Aaron laughed.
“I did that for a year and then got offered a job as a farm manager on a different farm, the farm I am on now,”, he added.
Last year he was working on a farm of over 400 head of cattle, a system three farm, though he now runs a system one farm, with over 360 cattle for milking.
“You are basically a one-man band, you do most of the work yourself,”, Aaron explained to Kevin.
“A system one farm means it is all grass, no crops, no feed bought in, with all young stock reared on the farm. It’s very tough going, it was so bad (weather) this year, I actually put cows out once a day after just a month inside.”, said Aaron.
The farm he is currently running, operates a herringbone parlour, with twenty units on each side. Milking, once a day after a month of twice a day milking, is completed solely by Aaron, meaning it takes a while. The farm run with a herd of Holstein Friesian cattle.
The farm is owned by a trust and operated by a 50/50 share maker. Kevin and Sue Rooney are the operators involved, and they hired Aaron to run it for them. They are though retiring this coming year, meaning Aaron is on the move yet again. He is coming back to Ireland, but only for the visit.
“We have 150 of the cows sold, 130 to sell, and 50 not suitable for sale.”, he said.
The newly-wed and soon to be first-time father has gained yet more employment in the dairy sector, soon to be running a nearby operation with over 600 cows for milking.
“On the 1st of June I am taking a 600 cow, system three farm up the road,”, he said.
“I will be operating the farm on the owner's behalf for a percentage of the milk cheque. For that, I have to supply staff, motorbikes, fuel, detergent and everything.”, Aaron told Kevin.It will in fact only be four days after his return from his native Ireland that Aaron takes control and 26-year-old is looking forward to it. The new farm consists of a herd of Kiwi-type Friesians, which are smaller in size.
With regards to plans for the future, Aaron has great ambitions. He aims to someday purchase his own farm of land, which he feels will take him less than ten years. He said his new farm are currently milking approximately 560 at present, while he hopes to bring that number above the 600-mark.
"In New Zealand, there is a great career path. I plan on owning my own farm in ten years time and that's very achievable. ", the farm manager said.
"If you hit your targets, there is a clear pathway to the top, if you have the go to do it,", Aaron explained.
He aims to try and improve cow production at his new farm, which he says is currently not meeting targets. He said he is happy enough with the genetics used currently and says the Kiwi crossbreeds produce good protein and fat levels.
He says he also plans on getting some training on the LIC Sire proving scheme as he will have to grade replacement heifers himself.
“I'll have to grade them all myself and do all the recording that goes with it,”, Aaron said.
"I also hope to be 50/50 share milking in three years time, which would involve buying tractors and my own herd of cows,", he added.
Why he loves what he does:
Although maybe never his dream job, Aaron enjoys the sense of freedom connected to his dairy lifestyle. He says, that although some days you may hate it, the majority of the time it feels like a dream.
"There are day's you hate it, but 90% of the time you absolutely love it", Aaron joked.
"There is no better living though. You are outside every day of the week, you have a herd of cattle that you are responsible for from start to finish,", he adds.
He left home at a very young age, it seems Ireland has lost a good one, with the Kiwi's having no intention of letting him out of their grasp. An accidental dairy farmer, but purposeful one all the same.
Don't forget to check out Aaron's Snapchat takeover from New Zealand this morning! Would you like to be featured like Aaron and take over our snapchat? Contact Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.