cows in field cows in field


Milking 170 cows and committed to annual BVD vaccination

24th March 2020

Milking 170 cows and committed to annual BVD vaccination

“I have been vaccinating against BVD for the past 12 years and will continue to do so until we rid the country of the disease,” said dairy farmer Peter Brophy.
Peter, who with his mother Margaret farms at Wells, Bagenalstown, switched from sucklers to dairying three years ago and plans to milk just under 170 cows this year.
“Twelve years ago, we had a BVD outbreak in the suckler herd. We had two persistently infected (PI) calves born. Ever since then, we vaccinate every year with Bovilis BVD. We haven’t had a PI or any issue with BVD on the farm since”

Peter Brophy

Bovilis BVD

All replacement heifers are given their primary and booster shots of Bovilis BVD four weeks apart before breeding. He ensures that the booster shot is given at least four weeks before the start of breeding.
All cows are then given their annual booster shot of Bovilis BVD four weeks before the start of the breeding season.
Bovilis BVD is licensed to provide foetal protection. When administered at the correct time; at least four weeks pre-breeding, it will provide protection to the foetus during the risk period.
The switch to dairying started in 2015 with the purchase of weanling dairy heifers. These were put in calf in spring 2016. He milked 108 cows in 2017, rising to 123 in 2018 and 147 last year. He plans to milk 168 this year. The milk is supplied to Glanbia.
He installed a 14-unit parlour and has the framework for an additional six units. Straw-bedded housing was replaced last year with cubicles.

“Twelve years ago, we had a BVD outbreak in the suckler herd. We had two persistently infected (PI) calves born. Ever since then, we vaccinate every year with Bovilis BVD. We haven’t had a PI or any issue with BVD on the farm since”


He is producing 470kg milk solids/cow, at 4.54% fat and 3.7% protein. Stocking rate is 3.75 cows/ha on the milking platform.
A dry farm and good grass management enabled the cows to be out day and night until mid-November last year. They were grazing during the day until 30 November.
All breeding is done by AI with the later calvers bred to Hereford and Angus bulls. Peter operates a 10-week breeding season. Last year, 93% had calved within six weeks. This year, calving started on 24 January. All bull calves and beef cross heifer calves are sold at two to three weeks old.
He employs one full-time worker – Liam Walsh, a local man from a dairy farming background. “I would be lost without him.”

Emphasis on disease prevention

Peter Brophy is a strong believer in the importance of strategic vaccination to control the major disease threats.
He works closely with his veterinary practitioner Lar Keenan of Barrowvale Veterinary Clinic in ensuring that his herd health programme is fit for purpose.
In addition to BVD, annual vaccination protocols are in place for Leptospirosis and Salmonellosis. He also operates a whole herd IBR vaccination programme.
He had a “bit of a pneumonia problem” in calves after going out to grass last year. This has led to the decision to vaccinate calves with Bovilis® Bovipast RSP this year. They will get a primary shot at around two weeks of age followed by a booster shot four weeks later.

Dairy start-up course a massive help

Peter’s father died when he was two years old. His mother Margaret continued to run the farm which at that time consisted of sheep and breeding thoroughbred horses.
After completing secondary school, Peter studied maths and economics in UCD and after graduating went on to study for an MSc in business management in Dublin City University (DCU).
Half way through the post-graduate course, his mother got ill and he was forced to suspend his studies and come back to help run the farm.
He started to build a suckler herd which peaked at 100 cows. The heifer calves were reared to beef and the bulls were sold as weanlings to exporters.
Frustrated with the returns from suckling, he decided that for the farm to have a viable future he needed to develop a dairy enterprise.
He did a Teagasc dairy start-up course which was run by Abigail Ryan. He found this to be “of massive benefit.”
He is a member of the Greenfield Academy discussion group which is coordinated by Abigail Ryan and meets once a month.


The Brophy family home is at Shankill, Paulstown, a couple of miles from the dairy unit, across the Kilkenny/Carlow county boundary. “We are proud Kilkenny people.”

Margaret is still actively in involved in horse breeding on land around the family home. This and another portion of land nearby is also used for silage and grazing replacements.
The Brophy name is well known in horse racing circles. Notable breeding successes include the grade 1 mare Voler La Vedette and, in more recent times, the gelding Good Boy Bobby.

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