Born and raised on a dairy holding near Clones in his native Co. Monaghan, Peter Holland represents the fourth generation of the Holland family to be involved in the industry.
“I would be the fourth-generation dairy farmer.” Peter explained to Kevin of That’sFarming.
The 22-year-old and his family run their own 50-strong dairy herd, consisting of Friesian cross Shorthorn animals. If that were not all, the family also rear four batches of turkeys each year, one for the free-range markets and another three for commercial purposes.
“It is a Friesian cross Shorthorn herd.” Peter noted.
“It is a mixture between 15-20% winter calving and the rest Spring Calving.” Peter continued.
The Shorthorn influence on the family’s herd was something introduced by Peter's father, also Peter, back at the start of the new Millenium.
“It went down (the change) in the early 2000’s when my father wanted to increase the solids in the herd. He liked the idea of a Shorthorn crossbred.” Peter said.
“He got a Shorthorn bull in 2001/2002 and started breeding from it and the bloodline is still running through the herd.” He added.
The family enterprise is run on a 125-acre land holding, with cows milked in a 10-unit herringbone parlour.
“The total grazing platform would be about 80-acres, with the total 125-acres. That includes silage ground as well.” Peter explained.
Although not currently in an official partnership with his father, also named Peter, Peter JR says they are looking into moving into a partnership in the coming months.
“I am not currently in a partnership, but we are looking into a partnership setup from the new year onwards.” Said the young farmer.
Peter’s Journey / Always Ag -
Afflicted by a serious passion for all things agricultural related from a very young age, it soon became Peter’s main aim to pursue a full-time career within the industry. In fact, there was never any other alternative.
“As far as I can remember, I always had a keen interest in farming and machinery.” Peter noted.
“I just always wanted to go farming since I was no height. So I am happy I am back farming at the minute.” He said.
To put his best foot forward in the industry, Peter followed on from his secondary education by carrying out further education in Ballyhaise agricultural college. It was here in 2014 that Peter first undertook a general agricultural course, before following it up with Dairy herd Management in his second year.
“I done a basic Ag course and then specialized in dairy herd management in my second year.” The Monaghan man said.
“I finished up in May 2016.” He adds.
From here, Peter then returned home to work alongside his father, Peter Senior, though not on a full-time basis as it Peter (Jr) quickly realised there wasn’t’ enough in the farm for the two of them. This led to the Clones man taking on a job with FRS in February of 2017 and he now carries out relief milking duties for herds in Monaghan and Cavan.
“Originally I came home for about a year. I didn’t realize until then that there wasn’t enough income on the farm (for the two of us) so I said I’d go and look for different ventures.” Peter explained.
“I then came across Farm Relief Services and I have been working with FRS and at home for the past two years almost. I cover farms all across Monaghan and parts of Cavan,” He stated.
As mentioned, Peter and his father currently run a herd of 50 Shorthorn/Friesian dairy cows, with 15-20% in a winter calving system and the rest spring calving. Calving season is much more relaxed on the Holland farm in comparison to other enterprises, with calving commencing at Christmas and running up until May.
“There is always room for improvement” Peter said of calving on their farm.
Breeding-wise on the farm, the Holland’s do not use A.I, instead relying on the stock LM bull to breed. This is something they will, however, look into changing at some stage in the future.
“We wouldn’t really focus on AI at home as we have a stock bull.” Peter said.
“I can’t see that (stock bull) being the way we go in the future. That will probably be cut out over the next couple of years.” Peter told Kevin.
The Holland family also keep an average of 10 bull calves each year for bull beef, having recently switched to using a LM stock bull. They fatten the bulls for sale at local months at 18-months old, while any excess bull calves are sold off at two to three weeks old.
“We also do a small bit of bull beef.” The Clones man noted.
“We rear them to a year and a half and then sell them in the marts. This year we decided to change the breed from Friesian to Limousin and the Limousin bulls will be fit for sale around this time next year.” He continued.
All of the heifer calves born on the farm are usually kept by the Holland’s, with the aim of replacing 10% of the herd each year.
“That doesn’t always happen,” Peter admits.
Grazing-wise on the farm, the Holland’s operate a very relaxed grazing system, allowing cows the freedom to roam and consume as much grass as they want. This is solely because their stocking rate is currently so low, though they will look to introduce a paddock to paddock system in the coming years, once numbers increase.
“It is a very relaxed system at home. It is more just open fields and cows can have their fill of it(grass),” said the Young Farmer.
“It is probably not the best way of going, but hopefully we will get a paddock system set up next year.” He adds.
If running a dairy enterprise was not enough for the Holland family, they also raise four batches of turkeys every year. They currently rear one batch of free-range turkeys, with three other batches aimed at the commercial markets.
“We have a free-range batch in the house at the minute.” Peter said.
“We have one free-range batch, a brooding batch and domestic houses.” He adds.
This is not a new venture for the family, with Peter senior building the first turkey house in the late 1980’s.
“We have been in turkeys now for about 35 years or so.” Peter told Kevin of That’sFarming.
In the long term, Peter’s main aim for the future is to eventually take over the running of the family farm from his father, Peter Senior. This, he admits, is not for the foreseeable future as his father is more than happy at the minute.
“That is in the pipeline. I have a few years to go yet.” Peter laughed.
The main aim for the Holland family for the coming years is expansion. They will look to not only increase their dairy herd to at least 90 cows but will be also expanding their turkey operation having recently received planning permission for a second turkey house.
“At the minute, we have plans to increase the cow numbers to 90. We have plenty of room for expansion.” Peter admits.
“We also want to expand on the poultry side as well. We got planning permission for two houses on the poultry end of it and hopefully, they will be up in the next couple of years.” He said.
Once these expansion plans are finalised and finished, Peter says the family may also abandon their micro bull beef enterprise.
“I’d say we will wind down, as once we go up in numbers we won’t have much time for the bull beef.” He noted.
The 2018 FBD Young Farmer of the year finalist does though, however, plan to move home on a full-time basis once numbers have been increased sufficiently.
Why Agriculture -
A keen animal enthusiast, Peter admits to thoroughly enjoying almost every aspect of the industry. A machinery fan, also with a passion for country music, Peter Holland is an Irish farmer through and through.
“It is a love for the animals and being outdoors really.” Peter explained.
“I enjoy the odd country night too.” Peter chuckled.
A fourth-generation dairy farmer, it was always inevitable that the Newbliss Macra member would be involved in the industry in some shape or form. No doubt, he will continue this involvement for many more happy years to come.
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