Sean Coughlan is from Co. Mayo. He has been awarded the Nuffield scholarship for 2014, which is sponsored by Aurivo. The topic Sean intends to study is; “a transfer to dairying; the knowledge and capital required”. Sean is currently farming a mixture of lowland and mountain grazing. The farm is currently stocked with 50 suckler cows and 300 Mayo blackface sheep with an emphasis on utilising as much grass as possible. Fragmentation is a particular issue for this farm as the 110ha is divided into 13 separate divisions. Disillusioned by the lack of profitability in beef farming and the fact that the farm is heavily reliant on EU subsidies, Sean has identified low cost grass based dairying as the best way of turning grass into profit. With the disappearance of dairy quotas in 2015, access to a block of land will become the biggest barrier to a career in dairying as only 0.25% of farmland in Ireland is traded on the open market each year. The aim is to create a simple, viable, sustainable and enjoyable farm business suited to the west of Ireland, which is capable of surviving without having to rely on EU supports. When set up, the farm can be used as a template that can be replicated by other people in the west of Ireland who are planning a conversion to dairying. Profitable dairy farming has the potential to contribute so much more to Ireland’s rural economy compared to alternatives.
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