26-years-young, David Fitzpatrick hails from Puckaun, near Nenagh in Co. Tipperary.
The young farmer comes from a long line of farmers, though his own father veered away from the industry and one might think that David would have done the same. He, however, spent a lot of time during his childhood on his uncle’s enterprise in Templemore, which first began as a dairy and Suckler farm before changing to a complete Pedigree Hereford Suckler herd.
“My uncle milked cows for all of his life until 2009 and he got out of them then.” David Fitzpatrick noted.
“He always had the dairy and Suckler herd, but he got out of the dairy herd and increased the Suckler herd.”
This switch to completely beef occurred in 2009, though dairying always remained in the blood and David and his uncle made the decision to finally revert back to dairy just last year, making David a new entrant to the sector. The decision was made to give David’s uncle the opportunity to “wind down” his involvement a small portion and give him a well-deserved breather.
“I’m a new entrant to dairying.” David explained to Kevin of That’sFarming.
“I worked on a dairy farm for a good number of years, then myself and my uncle went into a partnership together in Templemore, converting a beef farm back to a dairy farm…My uncle wanted to ease off the work a bit and wind down” David added.
Together, David and his uncle now run a 70-strong milking herd of Holstein/Friesian genetics, which will be milked in the 6-unit parlour previously used by his uncle when he ran a dairy farm.
“We have seventy milking cows,” he said.
“He (David’s uncle) had a 6-unit parlour there already and we got that going,” he added.
David’s Journey/Education -
Determined from a young age to seek a future within the sector having been instilled with the same passion for agriculture as his uncle from an early age, David made the decision to further his education following school.
“I always wanted to get into farming. That is all I ever wanted to do as a child.” The Tipperary man told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“I just had a massive interest in dairying.” He continued.
He then proceeded to take on a trip to Pallaskenry, where he studied Dairy Herd Management.
“I went to college in Pallaskenry, where I studied Dairy Herd Management,” said the Young Farmer.
David thoroughly enjoyed this experience and it reaffirmed to him that his future lay on the farm. David’s achievements in Pallaskenry were also recognized as he took home the student of the year award.
“When I left school and went to college, I really enjoyed learning all about farming. I knew then that it was what I wanted to do.” David said to Kevin.
“I actually won student of the year in Dairy Herd Management.” He laughed.
During his college years, David also spent time on two separate dairy farms as part of work placement, another experience he thoroughly enjoyed and one he feels prepared him adequately for life outside of College.
“I did work experience in two other farms as well, during college.” David noted.
“I learned a lot.” He said.
After this, it was time for David to take a step into the real world of farming and this led to the 26-year-old making the return home to his native Tipperary, where he took on a role on a local dairy farm in Nenagh. A period was spent here, before the decision was made to enter into the partnership with his uncle.
“I was working for a farmer in Nenagh, but I am after going into a partnership in Templemore” David explains.
“I was in charge of breeding, I was doing all of the A.I. and doing the books and that too,” he added.
David only officially entered the farm partnership just this month (January 2019).
“We only officially (entered the partnership) on the first of January.” said David.
“Last year I was here on and off, as I was still working with another farmer…In early November I finished up with him and I am here since full-time.” He added.
The system in place -
Now responsible for the operation of the new dairy enterprise alongside his uncle, David aims to carry out all of the A.I. work on the Tipperary farm.
Breeding will be carried out via 6-weeks of intensive A.I., with a Hereford stock bull mopping up for the final six weeks of the season. For A.I, they will only use genetics from high scoring EBI individuals.
“It will be twelve weeks breeding altogether,” David explained.
They aim to have calving commence around the 22nd of January every year. A relatively new business, David says he and his uncle will look to keep any bull calves on the farm and may even bring them up to yearlings, as they have an abundance of grass on their out-farm. All heifers will be kept as replacements.
“We want to have a decent calf as well, as we have land in another area and are able to carry the beef stock on there…I would like to hold on the calves, that’s why I want to have a high EBI Holstein Friesian cow,” said the farmer.
“We might sell them as yearlings”, said David of bull calves.
Cows will be grazed in a paddock to paddock system in peak growing season, with strip grazing wires put in place for the tail end of the year to make the most of any remaining grass. The team have yet to carry out their first milking as a partnership, though this will occur in a matter of weeks.
“I hope to have the paddocks so I can get three grazings per paddock.” David noted.
“In the shoulder of the year then I will be strip grazing, in Spring and Autumn,” he continued.
Housing and calving facilities on the farm are more than adequate, having been put in place by David’s uncle for his previous systems. The family also sell some of their own stock and have a selection of Hereford bulls and heifers for sale.
Future of the farm -
Not one to rest on his laurels, David and his uncle have big plans for the future of their farming enterprise. The first item on the agenda is to gradually increase cow numbers, with a target of 120 cows in David’s mind.
“We plan to go further, maybe up to 120,” said David of cow numbers.
The next item up for discussion over the coming years, will be the possible upgrade on the farm’s 6-unit dairy parlour.
“Maybe next year we might make use of the TAMS grant and build a new parlour.” David informed That’sFarming.
Why Agriculture -
David is not only a major fan of the outdoors but also enjoys having nobody to answer but himself, being his own boss.
“I love being outdoors, being my own boss and I love working with animals.” David said.
“Every day is a different and every day is a challenge.” He noted.
A man not shy of hard work, David enjoys the variety of the job, something that ensures his interest in agriculture won’t wane for many years to come.
“If you love what your doing, you will never work a day in your life.” The Tipperary man concluded.
Are you a young farmer over the age of 18 working Ireland? Fancy sharing your story like David did? If so, you could even take over our Snapchat for the day! Sound good? Then contact Kevin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with a short background.