Achieving 605kg of milk solids in Louth dairy herd

The second focus farm in the Progressive Farm Program visits Martin O’Hare’s spring calving dairy herd in Co. Louth.

This farm is a dairy enterprise milking 90 cows, which in 2020, converted from a suckler enterprise. Since converting to dairy, excellent results have been achieved on this farm – with 605kg of milk solids, a fat content of 4.5%, and a protein content of 3.6% produced in 2022. Dairy artificial insemination (AI) is used for the first six weeks of breeding. After the first six weeks, beef AI is then introduced.

Martin outlines that he places a big focus on increasing the milk solids production from his herd through using the right genetics. He spoke about how the use of AI has allowed him to achieve a much higher level of production from his herd. John McDaniel has been working as Martin’s breeding advisor for a number of years, including when he was a suckler farmer.

Martin said that sound advice from John is what has gotten his farm to where it is today.


John explained that the main focus on this farm is to increase milk solids output , with percentages and fertility being the two main criteria when selecting sires. On this farm, the bull team would consist of sires that are positive for kilos of fat and protein. In 2022, the herd produced 605kg of milk solids, with a fat content of 4.05% and a protein content of 3.6%.

John said: “Every farm is unique, with different criteria. A+B-C means that the main criteria always has to be solids. It is all about getting farmers to understand the value of solids and how to best achieve the maximum solids on your farm. It is always going to be through percentages, your production indexes and your kilos of fat and protein.”

Continuing, he said: “Keeping your percentages as high as possible is going to allow you to achieve the best price/L.”

John said that when selecting beef sires, the main areas of focus are ensuring that they are in short gestation, easy calving, but also high on the beef sub-index. Some of the beef sires that will be used on this farm in 2024 include Intelagri Matteo E.T.Coolrain Patriarch and HW Lord Horatio. Bulls with a beef sub-index of between 90 and 100 will be used, but that will still achieve the calving ease and gestation length criteria.

AgriNet HerdApp

AgriNet HerdApp allows Martin to register calves, apply for movement permits, record inseminations and drug usage and to have complete oversight on his entire herd. It is fully Bord Bia-compliant and eliminates the need for unnecessary paperwork, as all of the herd’s information is stored on the app. Martin uses AgriNet HerdApp to record births and register calves – it has been used on the farm for four to five years now.

AgriNet HerdApp is Ireland’s leading farm management tool. It allows farmers to manage all of the key day-to-day functions on a typical Irish dairy or beef farm, empowering farmers to make the right management decisions for more profitable dairy farming.

Milk recording

Milk recording has taken place on the farm since milk production began in 2020, with five recordings taking place each year. Commenting on using milk recording on his farm, Martin said: “The main benefits that I take out of milk recording is somatic cell count for individual cows. He also noted that he uses it for selecting cows that will remain in the herd, and those that should leave the herd.

Progressive Farm Program

Part one of the Progressive Farm Program: Breeding a robust cow for Meath autumn-calving herd.

For more information on AgriNet HerdApp, just click here.

Additionally, for more information on Progressive Genetics, click here.