On this week's young farmers edition we spoke to Tomas Moore a man with a beef background now milking over 420 cattle.
It might seem like a very daunting task for a young man with a beef background to up sticks and move to New Zealand to become a dairy assistant for a contract milker, but not to Tomas Mure.
Tomas, aged 25, hails from Abbeyleix in Co. Laois and comes from a beef and tillage background. His dad farms a nice farm in the area, looking after his beef stock and also keeping up with everything tillage, though Tomas described his influence at home as a "sunshine farmer".
"If I was free or dad was stuck i'd give him a hand, but I was more of a sunshine farmer", Tomas said with a giggle.
Tomas started off his further education,not by going into agriculture, but to study a Bachelors of Business in the University of Limerick. He then, upon receiving his degree, went to work for the IFA for a couple of months, following a J1 trip to California and a European 'voyage'. This is where his career in agriculture really began.
"That's what got me back into farming, talking to farmers everyday. I always really enjoyed working with farmers", he added.
After that he decided to, after hearing great things, to apply to Herdwatch. He received a job and he ended up staying for a year and a half.
"Herdwatch seemed to be doing well and I was hearing more and more about them. I sent them an email to see if they were looking for anyone and they were. I ended up staying for a year and a half", he said.
Although Tomas loved his job in Herdwatch working in sales and support, advertising and attending events and conferences he still had the travel bug and so he made the plunge.
The big move:
Tomas recently moved to New Zealand only two months ago, fulfilling a long held goal. He now helps milk and look after over 420 cows on a farm in the Waikato region of the North Island, pictured below. To most this might seem, to be frank a bit mad, but Tomas knew he wanted to travel and dairy at the same time, as he said himself "I threw myself in the deep end".
"I was keen to get stuck into the dairy and I was keen to travel as well, so I said I'd kill two birds with one stone", said Tomas.
His daily tasks involve bringing the five different herds on the farm into the feeding pads and for milking. Tomas and two other men carry out milking duties, as well as other tasks such as cleaning. Work begins every morning at 5a.m. and finished at He works six days on and one day off, and highlighted the importance of sleep.
"It's important to get early nights to be ready for the morning, as you need to be on your game", he stressed.
While also highlighting the importance of having good communication amongst fellow work colleagues.
"Communication is key when there's a farm of over 400 cows and three of us working it", Tomas stated.
His interest in dairy came from talking to farmers while working with Herdwatch and from his own experiences. He thought long and hard about it and from his research came to the conclusion that "dairy is the only business in town", referring to the better financial rewards.
He did admit that there is a lot more work to dairy, pointing to the majority of farmers working 7 days a week and being tied to the farm. Though he looks to the future to solve that problem.
"There's ways around that too with robotic milking getting more popular. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot in beef and Tillage so I dived head first into it", he said.
The main differences between farming here and at home he says is the lack of subsidies available to New Zealand's farmers. Tomas says this means they don't have a "safety net" like their Irish counterparts, and as a result means that they are run more like a business.
"It's completely different over here, back home they have subsidies to keep a farm making ends meet, but over here if they're not the manager of the farm could be moved on and another brought in" he said.
He said unlike Ireland There is an extra emphasis on recruitment, with farms not just hiring "the lad down the road". He also highlighted the extensive use of grassland management practices in New Zealand and he says farmers there have more control of their farms.
He plans to first learn as much as he possibly can whilst on his travels, and hopes to get as much experience as he can. This knowledge he wants to "bring back home" to help eventually develop his own dairy farm.
"I don't know what the plan is in the short term because dad has his own herd at home and he has his own way of doing things. In the longer term i would be looking to go into the dairy side of things", said Tomas.
He said they have the perfect farm at home to turn into a dairy farm, but admits he may have to wait a while until his father finally retires the wellies.
Advice for others:
When asked if he had any advice for people looking to follow his path and make the same move, Tomas had a few top tips.
He advised them to "Don't worry" if they had a lack of a dairy background, saying he had "never milked a cow before".
"Once you have a good work ethic and be willing to learn the Kiwi way of things, which is a small bit different from back home, then you will have no hassle at all" , he stated.
He did warn though to do a lot of research before taking the plunge, saying he asked some friends who went out before and also posting to others in Teagasc's discussion group on Facebook.
"I tried to suss it out for myself. My biggest fear was coming across the world and there to be no job there when I arrived", he said.
He also took time to mention a recently launched FRS exchange programme between the two countries. This programme will see Irish farmers travel to New Zealand to help with the calving season, and New Zealand farmers travelling to Ireland to do the same. This helps alleviate labour shortage problems in both countries as both calving seasons are on opposite cycles. He did admit it was "only taking off", but said this would be a great way to get experience and to help cope with a "serious labour shortage on both sides".
He concluded, "there is tonnes of work out here, and they are mad for Irish."
When asked about his funniest farming memory, Tomas could only laugh uncontrollably.
He began to tell me a story which he said "sums up farming and the passion people have for it".
"It was the day of my debs, and it was in the middle of silage season with us making our own silage. Dad was silaging and I was drawing in the bales in a mad rush as I wanted to get home showered, changed and suited", said Tomas with another chuckle.
"Dad wouldn't let me go and kept asking would I stay another hour or two. I eventually got going and in a mad rush I busted my head of the draw bar or something and I had a big lump my head for the debs", he laughed.
Some might look back at this with a degree of resentment, but not Tomas even though the picture is still hanging up on the wall at home.
He has already made the dramatic decision to up sticks and jumped in head first to become a dairy farmer. He is only in New Zealand for two months, but has already learned so much. He is like a sponge soaking up information, and is making the most of this opportunity. Already, with minimal experience, Tomas is milking over 400 cattle.
His mother thinks he's coming home next year, though I suspect the "Kiwi's" might want to keep hold of him a little bit longer.