Article; The Strive To Expand

In 2015, for the first time in over 30 years, farmers can now expand milk production without the hassle of milk quotas. The whole abolition of quota presents great opportunities for dairy farmers to expand. There will be undoubtedly success for many, for others, however, expansion may bring heavier workloads and increased stress without any long term benefits.
The main requirement for the whole expansion process is that it is stainable from all aspects for the business perspective. This basically means, that the business should focus on the accurate conversion of home grown feed to saleable products that are recognised as being of high quality and are safe to consume.
In a lot of cases, expansion is not planned effectively. There is no money in expansion the money only starts to come in once you have expanded. From farm to farm, the amount of investment needed varies. Expansion costs are indeed very individual.
Getting ready for expansion or conversion can be a challenging as well as a rewarding experience, here are the main tips and advice to help you along the way in your expansion:

• Plan your farm with labour efficiency in mind, design sheds, roads, yards, milking parlour and handling facilities with cow and operator comfort and safety in mind and also with the objective of getting the job done quickly.
• Plan your time in advance to make the best use of it and your farm worker’s time. Don’t be afraid to delegate and don’t get over worked as it will do you no favours in the long run.
• Use only skilled, trained, insured staff. FRS can provide this as well as giving you one invoice which is tax deductible. Black market labour can be very costly if the work is not carried out correctly, it can also end up costing you more if you compare to the net cost of using FRS (including for tax deductibility).
• Make a plan for your record-keeping, don’t let paperwork get on top of you or keep you from the important business of farming. Check out Herdwatch our new software and app for herd management to make your paperwork and compliance recording more efficient. It saves farmers up to four hours per week on paperwork. for more information.
• Evaluate your own training needs – enrol in the FRS/AHI/Teagasc, Best Practice in Milking Course – it should improve your routine and milk quality. It will also gain you a FETAC Level 6 Certificate. Identify any other training needs you may have and get your-self upskilled eg. financial, time management, chainsaw safety, spraying operations, Quad bike etc. Check out for specialised agricultural and business courses.
• Protect your livelihood by planning for unforeseen circumstances such as accident or illness. Join the FRS Membership Benefit Scheme which gives you the peace of mind that your farm will be looked after if you are unable to work. Visit for further details.
• Make sure your farm is a safe and comfortable working environment. Are there any areas which could be made safer or more efficient? Complete or update your safety statement and check out farm safety courses available through
• FRS can help you to plan for expansion, call us for confidential, no-obligation free advice. We can tailor packages to suit your farm needs.
Realistically sustainable expansion has three main aims: Firstly, It should be profitable for the farmer. Secondly, it should look after the environment and thirdly it should improve the lifestyle of the farmer over all. It is already evident since the abolition of milk quotas that there is going to be a significant increase in milk production over the coming years.
If you are looking for any expansion tips or advice do not hesitate to contact FRS on (0505) 22100 or visit our website

Article: Proper Milking Routine – Less Strain, More Efficiency

Last year proved to be a great success for the Best Practice in Milking course with, 400 farmers having completed the course and upskilling their milking practices nationwide. The course which is in conjunction with FRS, Teagasc and AHI is well underway this year, with great interest being shown once again.
Martin Davin, a farmer from Eglish in Rathdowney County Laois, successfully completed the Milking Course last year. Martin himself admitted that prior to completing the milking course, he suffered constant strain to his shoulders and wrists due to the style of milking he had adopted over the years.
“Before completing the milking course I always had pain in my shoulders and wrists from the way I was milking. Now my shoulders and wrists don’t get sore anymore. Once you have done the course, you start milking the way it should be done” said Martin.
For Martin, the course opened his eyes to how a proper milking routine should be carried out. Even though it takes a couple of weeks to adjust to the new milking routine, he found he got very use to it and clearly sees how well it works.
One of the benefits of the actual milking routine would be the fact that I can milk each row with alternative hands now. It’s a huge benefit.” said Martin.
The course shows farmers how to make life easier by learning how to milk effectively and efficiently. Martin was completely satisfied with how the course went for him and how he adapted it so well on his own farm.
“The biggest thing I got out of the milking course was the whole milking routine, learning how to milk the cows and the proper way to do it. Also keeping your area clean and yourself clean is vital, even down to wearing gloves at all times. It’s all hugely important. For me, a proper milking routine is very important because you will be doing it for 20 or 30 years of your life. If you don’t have it at the start get it and pass it on.” said Martin.
Having seen the difference between how he once milked in comparison to now, Martin has seen all the benefits and could recommends others to do the milking course.
“The practical side of milking is great, there’s so much to learn if you want to learn, if you don’t want to learn then you never will”.

The training is designed to make life that little bit easier for the farmer. Putting less strain on both the Farmer’s life and Body. From start to finish the milking routine has an important bearing on the efficient and hygienic removal of milk from the udder. The course itself is designed to develop the skills of the milker to ensure that all cows are milked effectively and efficiently and reduce preventable waste by producing lower somatic cell counts (SCC) and better milk quality.
“The importance of routine cannot be over emphasised. Cows are creatures of habit and the more you can make each day exactly the same as the previous day the more relaxed and productive they’ll be. So, good milking technique begins by following a predictable routine.” (Teagasc)
The Milking course teaches the components of an efficient milking process or routine, which are:
• Preparation for Milking
• Parlour Preparation
• Row filling
• Preparation in batches and maximising milk let down
• Cluster attachment
• Cluster removal
• Teat disinfection
• Row exit
• Parlour hose down
When employing an efficient milking routine, milkers can achieve somatic cell count (SCC) and total bacterial count (TBC) levels of less than 100,000 and less than 10,000 cells per ml respectively and milking row times of less than 9 minutes. (Teagasc)
From the farmers who have completed the course, it is obvious that one of the main problems that constantly arise from farmers milking habits is strain. Due to habits which have developed over their years of milking, farmers complain of suffering with back pain, shoulder pain and wrist pain.
Successful completion of the ‘Best Practice in Milking Course’ results in a FETAC/QQI level 6 certificate. Martin along with all those who completed the course will be receiving their certificates of completion at the end of August. The course involves two days training followed by an assessment and includes practical on-farm milking sessions.
For those who are interested in doing the course visit , alternatively call Kevin Fitzpatrick at 086 0280450 or email Like and share

News: The Sun Sets on Ploughing 2015 for FRS


As the sun sets on this year’s ploughing, we can all sit back and relax after a tremendous three days.  This year’s event marked the most successful in history with a record breaking 281,000 people having landed in Ratheniska co. Laois over the three days.  The Farm Relief Services marquee proved once again to be a great success with floods of people coming in to chat to our team and sign up to the courses on offer.

The FRS team from all our divisions were out in force giving people information.  Outdoors the FRS fencing team ran with a great display of the various fencing on offer to people.  The Trainers were kept on their toes over the three days with the Boom Sprayer which was being demonstrated throughout the day each day.

This was a great success attracting great crowds to the stand whilst the demonstrations were undergoing.  A large amount of people signed up for the course which is required to be completed by November 2015.  Those who signed up for the course were entered into a draw to win a free course.  A huge congratulations, to Thomas Dillon from Listowel, Co. Kerry who was the winner of the spraying course.

Herdwatch once again came out of the event with great results having gained 200 new subscriptions to the app. The app itself is going from strength to strength receiving great feedback from all who came to visit them in the FRS tent and also in the Innovation arena. The big attraction of this year’s ploughing event however was the Herdwatch mascot Herdie who was out on about promoting Herdwatch and was a big success on the trackway.

People of all ages stofrs 180pped to get their photo taken with Herdie for the Twitter competition.  Congratulations to the lucky winner Lauren Enright from county Kerry who won herself her county jersey for uploading a photo of themselves with Herdie.  Each tweet about #Herdie, Herdwatch donated 50cent to Embrace Farm.  A whopping €500 in total was raised for Embrace Farm thanks to Herdwatch.

This year we were delighted to have Tom Maher and Marie Spencer from St. Vincent De Paul who helped out at the FRS tea and coffee station for the three days.  They welcomed everyone with a smile and kept the tea and coffee flowing.  They raised over €900 for their charity at the event.

And so that is another year at the ploughing done and dusted.  We look forward to planning for next year.  Thank you to all the staff who helped out, to all our customers and the people who came to visit our stand.  As always it is greatly appreciated.

For more information  visit our website on or call us on 0505 22100.  Like out Facebook page for constant updates and News

Article: Half the Hours spent on the Farm with FRS

Undoubtedly farming is one of the most difficult and life threatening occupations people in Ireland have today. Not only is it time consuming, it is also both physically and emotionally demanding. According to latest statistics released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), Farmers continue to work the longest hours per week in Ireland.
Recent CSO figures for 2015 show that Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing have the highest average usual hours worked per week at 50.4 hours. Interestingly, 2015 conveyed that farmers have worked longer hours so far this year than any year since 2010.
Although safety measures have definitely improved on farms in recent years, farmers are still busier and stress levels are extremely high. The whole health side of a farmer’s life can and is being threatened due to their massive work load and lack of rest.
Last year, figures show farmers only worked 47 hours per week, three hours less than this year. Other CSO figures released for 2015, show that self – employed people had average usual hours worked per week of 44.6 hours with employees working 34.5 average usual hours per week. Part time workers on the other hand, worked an average usual hours of 19.3 hours per week.
Time is a valuable resource. Although being a farmer involves a large amount of commitment, it is vital that some time is given to a ‘Social Life’ especially farmers with young families. House and family duties need to be shared but time, also needs to be spent doing things outside the farm together.
FRS put farmers first and so we offer a range of time saving Specialised Services which help farmers reduce working hours on the farm and gain some time for them-selves. These include:
• Power Washing
• Relief Milking
• Hoof care
• Cow Pregnancy Scanning
• Sheep Pregnancy Scanning
• Calf Dehorning
• Farm Safety Training
• Waste Plastic Collection
• FRS Bin & Liner System

Clever technology is the newest way for farmers to save time on the farm. Herdwatch is a perfect example of this. Herdwatch is a newly developed farming app which has proven to save farmers up to four hours a week on paperwork such as calf registrations and remedies recording, for less than 30 cent a day.
For every 60 calves, a dairy or suckler farmer can expect to save 10 hours using Herdwatch and this doesn’t even take into account cost savings (40 euro in stamps alone) or time saved by reducing errors and not having to keep handwritten notes.
Farmers can also expect to save more time by recording remedies directly into Herdwatch on their smartphone, on the go, even with no internet connection. Once the information is recorded, the farm is fully compliant with remedies recording requirements from the Dept of Agriculture and Bord Bia.
Almost 1,000 farmers have signed up to Herdwatch and the feedback has been extremely positive, in fact, more than half the farmers who have recently signed up did so because another farmer told them how good it was.
If you are a dairy or beef farmer and want to save up to four hours a week and have the peace of mind of being compliant at all times, subscribe to Herdwatch now for just €99 inc VAT.
For more information on what FRS has to offer you to help you save hours on the farm check out our website:

News: FRS brought Farm Safety Awareness to this year’s Charleville Show

_MG_1930 copy

In 2014, thirty people died on farms. That number accounts for 54% of all workplace deaths in Ireland. In the first five months of 2015, five people died on farms versus 12 in the same period in 2014. Around 2,500 non-fatal accidents causing injury occur on farms manually.
Once again the team at FRS (Farm Relief Services) were invited by the Charleville Show organisers to demonstrate the importance of Farm safety at this year’s show, which took place on Sunday June 29th. Every year these live demonstrations prove to entice the crowd and this year was no different.
FRS received a great response to the Farm Safety Demo which showed people the dangers of an unprotected P.T.O shaft on a tractor by using mannequins. The team also demonstrated good manual handling and safe ear and eye protection.
The Agri kids section was also received very well by both children and parents. Fifty books were given out from the “Tales from Riverside Farm” series which went down a treat. Luke O’ Brien from Effin, Co. Limerick was the lucky winner of a toy tractor having correctly identified farming hazards on a drawing. Well done Luke.
We look forward to next year’s show.
Check out our facebook page for constant updates

News: Herdwatch Hits The Mullingar Show


The Herdwatch Team were out in force at The Mullingar Show last Sunday July 12th. As part of AIB’S Backing Brave initiative, Herdwatch were at the show with AIB. Herdwatch were crowned the AIB 2015 start – up academy winners having developed a farming app which makes life a lot easier for farmers. Since winning, the app has gone from strength to strength achieving a lot of interest and new customers.

The team received a great response at the show with onlookers including MEP Mairead McGuiness. The day itself was a complete success for the team at Herdwatch, they got a lot of new sign ups and had a large amount of people expressing interest in the app and what exactly it had to offer.

A competition is currently running in connection with Herdwatch and the GAA. All you have to do is Sign up to Herdwatch today and be in with a chance of winning tickets to the All-Ireland quarter and Semi Finals in Hurling or Football.

To be in with a chance of winning these tickets or for more information visit the Herdwatch website or like our Facebook Page

News: Charity BBQ

charity BBQ

A Charity barbecue will take place on Sunday the 19th of July at the yard of Shane Nolan of Finavara, Burrin, Co. Clare. This will be sign posted on the road between Kinvara and Ballyvaughan from 2pm-6pm, on behalf of Farm Contractors of Ireland (FCI). The event will raise funds for Galway Hospice and Embrace Farm. Shane Nolan who has one of the largest John Deere fleet in the west of Ireland has opened his yard to the public for this fund raising event. He built up his contracting business over the last 30 years which includes baling, pit silage, slurry spreading with the trailing shoe etc. and still finds time to do 500 acres of tillage. He will show the newer combine and still has the combine his father bought new in 1981, AND it works.

It is able to get in to the fields that the bigger machine can’t, also on display will be an old self propelled silage harvester where Shane took the grass equipment off and mounted a front mower adding more useful years to this machine. Possibly the best John Deere model farm will also be on display as previously seen at Galway’s annual Model and Diorama shows, (every kids wish big and small). A large display of John Deere machinery can be seen on the day with machines as low as 20 hp to the big monsters of 500hp+ & where big and small kids can safely see these machines in their working clothes. Music entertainment & bouncy castles for kids, food will be provided.

All are welcome to this social gathering.

A day not to be missed.

Contact details. Shane on  086 6008139.


Using pesticides safely for good weed control


This is the time of year when weed growth is at its best, so farmers need to be vigilant in controlling their spread before they go to seed.

Two main control methods are available.  In both cases, timing is essential.

  1. Topping
  2. Use of Pesticides

Grassland weeds must be sprayed at what’s called the Rosette stage (3 – 4 “high (75-100mm) and similar width for best control when using pesticides.  This means a full array of leaves to absorb maximum amount of the pesticide applied, if the plant is too advanced the pesticide product will not be as effective.  If it is already too late to spray, it may be advisable to top grassland and then spray in 4-6 weeks time to the new growth.

FRS have the perfect weed solution to help with your weed issues and FRS Training provide the sprayer training courses to ensure you are compliant with the new department of Agriculture directive called the SUD (Sustainable Use of Pesticide Directive).

Grassland Weeds

Weeds compete with grass for nutrients and space.  In turn, these weeds are reducing the amount of grass available to the grazing animals.  For most common grassland weeds a product called MCPA will suffice.  Always reads the label and supplementary information for the correct pesticide application rate before using.  You may have to decide on what volume of water suits your situation, as very often volume rates on labels are determined by the grass cover or level of weed infestation.

Some Typical grassland weeds and products available:


There are many sprays on the market which will eliminate buttercups from grassland.  Spraying with Forefront or Pastor will solve this problem as well as the growth of other weeds.


Rushes tend to cause a big problem for farmers.  With the amount of rainfall we get in Ireland there is always a significant increase in the amount of rushes on the land.  A combination of  2 4 D based products and Torpedo 2 appears to be quite effective in killing it off as due to it’s vigorous nature it can be quite difficult to dispose of.


Docks are a constant scourge on most farms however they are relatively easy to control.  There a number of effective sprays on the market.  The only problem which underlies is there reoccurrence.  Many products are available to counteract against docks, however many are very severe on clover therefore it is best to consult with your supplier on the appropriate product to suit your needs.

Products available: Doxstar – Fore front – Eagle

Typical Rate of Application:  2L/ha in 200L of water/ha

(Eagle is granulated so rate measure in grams/ha)

Weeds and Briars under fences

Weeds and briars become a major problem with electric fences around farm boundaries.  The major problem which arises is the strength in the power of the electric fencing diminishing dramatically.  The best way to control this is by using weed killer.  Grazon 90 is one of the best on the market and is preferred by many farmers.

Boom Sprayer Pesticide Application Courses

The department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced the implementation of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD).  This directive stipulates that professional users, ie farmers and distributers of plant protection products will be required to be trained and registered with the department by November 26th 2015.  Farmers need to be compliant and the training courses required are commonly known as Boom Sprayers and Knapsack Sprayers.

Course Title:                                                    Duration:                     QQI Level

Boom Sprayer Pesticide Applicator             2 days ( 1 week apart)         5

Hand Held Pesticide Applicator                   2 days  ( 1 week apart)        5

Boom sprayers include, Weed lickers, self-propelled, mounted, trailed and quad sprayers once over 3 meter boom width.

FRS Training is a QQI approved professional pesticide user training provider and has tailored its courses to suit farming life. Once you have successfully completed the Boom Sprayer and/or the Hand Held Pesticide Applicator course/s. Farmer must register with the department of Agriculture via their online system and then you will receive your PU Number (Pesticide User).  This is an excellent hands on practical course where you will be safely trained on handling and applying correct rates of product and know how to calculate the output from your sprayer.

Further information on registration and training requirements

Contact FRS Training on 1890 20 1000 to book your course or visit  FRS courses are available Nationwide at competitive pricing and group discounts.

News: Remembered & Missed. Hundreds set to commemorate those lost to farming accidents

12/06/2015 Brian Rohan pictured with his wife Norma and Brid Corkerey at the launch of Embrace Farm. Pic: Don Moloney

Brian Rohan pictured with his wife Norma and Brid Corkerey at the launch of Embrace Farm.
Pic: Don Moloney

People of all ages who lost their lives in Ireland’s most dangerous working environment will be commemorated on June 28th next in a special Embrace FARM Remembrance Service.  The Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Abbeyleix will hold the service which takes place at 2pm.  Deepest respects will be paid to the large amount of people throughout the country who tragically lost their lives to farming accidents.

This year marks the second annual Remembrance Service organised by Embrace FARM –an organisation which was established to honour the memory of those who died and suffered serious injuries in farming accidents and to also support their loved ones.

The service is expected to draw almost 800 people connected to victims of tragic accidents from across the country.

Among those attending the service will be Simon Coveney Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, renowned rugby player and farmer John Hayes, current Irish rugby international Sean O Brien along with other industry representatives and clergy.

The event itself is led by Embrace FARM founders Brian Rohan and his wife Norma a farming family from Shanahoe co. Laois.  The pair launched the voluntary organisation last year in memory of Brian’s late father Liam, who was killed following an accident on the family farm in 2012.

The service itself acts as a place of comfort for those who have lost their loved ones, an opportunity to get their stories off their chest.  Mr Rohan said, “People get to discuss their own particular experience and last year so many got great comfort from just getting to talk to others who have experienced their pain.”

This year’s event comes after a traumatic year in 2014 for fatal faming accidents.  During the year some 30 people lost their lives to farm accidents, an 87% increase in comparison to 2013.

Announcing this year’s Remembrance Service with Embrace FARM alongside supporter Cork dual star Briege Corkery, Mr Rohan said, “When we were here last year we were hoping that we would see a major fall off in farm accidents but unfortunately the death toll continues.  It’s a terrible emotional impact as well as a practical one”.

12/06/2015 Brian Rohan pictured with Brid Corkerey at the launch of Embrace Farm. Pic: Don Moloney

Brian Rohan pictured with Brid Corkerey at the launch of Embrace Farm.
Pic: Don Moloney

The toll itself triggered a major safety awareness campaign from Embrace FARM, with their viral video campaign ‘What’s left behind’.  However, the death toll continues with 7 people having lost their lives so far this year in farm accidents.

The whole aim behind the service was to develop the event into an annual remembrance at Provincial level and to develop various support structures to help families to come to terms with the irreplaceable loss of their loved ones.

For Mr. Rohan the service is an opportunity for people to come together, especially those who have dealt with the same experience, “We founded the organisation principally to provide support to families, like ours, who find themselves trying to deal with the death of a loved one on a family farm.  The Remembrance Service is the biggest opportunity of the year for us to do that as it enables people who have that tragic common experience to come together and share their sense of loss and indeed memory of their loved ones.”

Also speaking at the launch, Briege Corkery, who milks 500 cows twice daily with her boyfriend Diarmuid, said, “When you hear of an accident or much worse a fatality on a farm, it does stop you in your tracks.  It is a dangerous working environment and we all need to be so careful because of that.  So many Irish families have paid a terrible toll due to farm accidents and the Remembrance Service is an opportunity for them to come together and have the support of each other as they think of their loved ones.  Embrace FARM deserves huge credit for what they have done and I am delighted to support them.”

A part of this service will be the reading out of names of the people who have died in farm accidents.  The organisers have asked those who want their loved one’s names read out to contact them on (085) 7709966 or send them an email at or visit

In order to improve Farm Safety and create awareness FRS will be holding Farm safety displays at The Athlone Agri show Sunday June 28 and Charleville agricultural show June 28.

For more information on the farm safety displays visit:





More farmers set to up skill their milking practices this coming July

Father and son at best practice in milking course

FRS (Farm Relief Services) launched the “Best Practice in Milking” course in conjunction with Teagasc and AHI (Animal Health Ireland) in July of last year. The course itself proved to be a complete success. Almost four hundred farmers have upskilled their milking practices through the course and are currently in the process of receiving their highly commendable FETAC/QQI level 6 certifications.
Participants had positive feedback to give about the course. From beginners to the utmost experienced, each participant had something great to say about the course and the way in which it was taught. Some even admitted that milking all your life does not necessarily mean you know everything about it, “I have been milking all my life, didn’t think there was anything I didn’t know! But I was wrong AGAIN”.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD, officially launched the milking course last year on behalf of FRS, Teagasc and AHI.
At the launch Minister Coveney said; “By improving standards and improving current farming practices through this milking course will help take the industry to the next level and to where we need to be in order to provide the best practice efficiently and compete on wider international stage. The department is backing this course through its funding and encourages farmers to upskill their current practices and new entrants to put the best foot forward and complete the course”.

Best Practice in Milking practical group 14 july Gurteen
The course is suited to all level of expertise. Some of the previous participants felt that the course should be compulsory for those new to dairy. “Excellent course. Should be made compulsory for new entrants”.

Every area of the milking routine is covered throughout the duration of the course including; Preparation for milking, Machine parts/components, Milk quality (SCC&TBC), Mastitis prevention, Washing routines, Animal diseases, Health and safety and many other essential aspects to ensure an efficient dairy system is in place.
Undoubtedly, the course itself is extremely unique as it brings together the theory parts of milking and also the practical implementation of the theory. A customised DVD aids the delivery of the course and acts as a reference guide in the future. All course tutors and directors have been specifically trained and course content approved by the experts in the area of milking.
Past participants were enthusiastic and highly recommended farmers to do the course, “I would recommend to all farmers because you would learn so much and “All farmers should do it, excellent course”.
Plans are currently underway for the next tranche of milking courses, which are due to commence this coming July 2015 and will be running throughout the country. The course is open to all levels of milking experience from new entrants and people interested in relief milking to experienced dairy farmers.
Currently the cost of the course is €250, reduced from €500 due to a €250 department subsidy. With the success of last year’s course FRS, Teagasc and AHI hopes that this year will be as successful.

milking routine
Peter Byrne, CEO FRS Network says; “FRS have been providing milking training to FRS relief milkers and farmers for 35 years, but we wanted to standardise the course to improve the consistency of its delivery and also give certification of achievement to participants that recognises the hard work they have put in and the learning value that they have received. We are delighted with the response so far and will continue to progress with the confidence that the milking course is delivering what it set it do.”
For more information on the course or if you wish to book a spot for July:
Visit, alternatively call 1890 20 10 00 or Kevin Fitzpatrick at 086 0280450. Drop us an email at
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