Working on close to 100 acres, Darren McCarthy is full-time farming at 24 years of age.
This particular dairy farmer is in a family-farm partnership, working closely with his father on their Cork land.
“We’re just outside Barryroe, right near the coast,” explains Darren to That’s Farming.
Darren is milking 50 cows, and running a calf-to-beef system. His father works part-time with contracting, so the bulk of the farming responsibility is on Darren at the moment!
“I’m there most of the time but my father is able to cover me for a day, especially if I’m gone with Eurogene.”
Not only is Darren farming full-time, but he’s also a technician with none other than Eurogene AI Services.
“I’m about four or five years back home, and I got roped into Eurogene by a friend of mine who’s a stockist with them. Since November 2015 now I’m working as an AI technician in the local area.
“The AI is my favourite part of farming; there’s such a variety so I’m like a kid at Christmas! It’s more or less being your own boss working with Eurogene. You’re self-employed really.”
Darren loves the challenge that genetics play in his work:
“We’d get about 14 or 15 new bulls brought in every year, from Belgian Blue to Limousins. The genetic gain you can get is incredible.”
Darren got his degree in Dairy Herd Management in 2015 after completing the Level 6 course in Clonakilty Agricultural College. He also spent four months in New Zealand on placement on a dairy farm back in 2014. However, farming has always been a big part of his life.
“I grew up farming. Ever since I was small, we had a lot of tillage and 20 milking cows,” explains Darren.
“We had about 60 acres of beet and barley.”
Nowadays, Darren would still describe his farm as small-scale, but he says he enjoys experimenting with the herd they have.
“We have mostly Friesian cows, and I’ve had Simmental and Angus bulls.”
Like every farmer, Darren has seen the hardship that financial struggles put on farming families.
“It can be tough. We’re in the middle of doing a lot of cattle investments. We’re waiting for TAMS approval as well for an over-ground slurry store and a bulk milk tank.”
The delays with the Department of Agriculture seem to affect most farmers in some way or another.
“Getting support is difficult; it can be a drawn-out process. I’m after going through the bank with a business plan, and I’m waiting four or five months now at this stage.”
The future of farming is bright, as long as farmers take on board new advice it seems:
“I’d say for the future of farming, it’s definitely quality over quantity. For us, we’re taking down numbers all the time; for slaughter, we’re using the weighing scales every month and calculating the best time.
“You need to know what your animal is gaining; if it’s not close to a kilo you won’t get anything back.
“Efficiency will be the way forward.”
Darren is less optimistic with the tillage sector, and from his experience over the last while, it’s nowhere near profitable.
The way that Darren wants to continue is well-thought out.
“I want to try and separate it as a business, and not a lifestyle. Of course, farming is a lifestyle in a sense, but you have to look at it like a business and finance it that way. Know your limitations. I’m going to be trying to generate more income.”
Darren’s career as an AI technician is growing too, as he becomes more and more popular in his local area.
His plan for the future is to expand in the best possible way while cementing his career with Eurogene.
If you’re a young farmer, make sure you get in touch. You could be featured next!