This is Dairy Farming

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Neil Quinlan works on a dairy farm in Cheshire who returned to farming almost four years ago following a ten year absence and has never looked back.

Growing up I spent as much time as I could on my grandfather’s dairy farm, which is where I originally caught the farming bug.  As neither of my parents wanted to carry on the farming family tradition, my uncle took over farm. 

I got a job working on a dairy farm and although the plan was to eventually go into business with my uncle, I still felt there was more life experience to be gained before I could pick up the reigns.

The next few years consisted of going to college after working on the farm, to complete my agricultural studies at Reaseheath College. From there I went to Grosvenor estate for the summer harvest and used the money from that to travel Europe! When I came back penniless and unfortunately then the family farm wasn’t an option, I took a job building.

After 7 years working for someone I started up my own little business which was something I'd realised I'd be able to do quite easily and cheaply. Just needed knowledge and practical skills! But it just wasn't farming, which I'd continued to think about and have a keen interest in.

I was fortunate enough that a neighbour was looking for a farm worker for their dairy farm and I went for it. Nearly four years down the line I’m doing exactly what I should be and absolutely love it!

We are milking 300 Holstien Freisian cows who graze over 450 acres in the summer and are housed over winter. I love working with these gentle animals and my favourite cow is no 556 or Red as I call her. She follows me around and is like a big pet dog.

I'm involved in all aspects of the farm but I take charge of the youngstock rearing looking after the unit where the calves are sent after being weaned off milk. They stay there until they are 15 -24 months old depending on the time of year. 

One day I’d love to have my own farm, lots of farm employees aspire to one day having their own farming business. However, farming to me seems to be very different than other industries.  Bank clerks don’t often want to own a bank while nurses don’t want to own a hospital!

I am so lucky that I finally realised what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, some people never get that lucky and continue to drift… Working in a wonderful outdoor environment with dairy cows every day is different and sunrise is always a fantastic time of the day. Whether you watch from the milking parlour or from our cow track where it rises behind two local castles it never gets boring.