By Chris McCullough

Producing a cow that can walk long distances and cope with rolling hills is an important breeding goal of an Irish farmer who is now running his own dairy farm in Australia.

Originally from Monaghan, Brian Corr was managing two dairy farms in Victoria for an investment group, but jumped at the chance to buy his own place when it came up for sale.

Brian bought his 153ha farm at Moyarra, South Gippsland, in July 2022, further leasing another 60ha of milking platform and 80ha of land for youngstock just 10km away.

Brian now milks 400 cows but has plans this season to increase to over 500 making good use of the leased land.

He works full-time on the farm and is assisted by his partner Myrid Bartlett at weekends as she is a full-time teacher.

Brian Corr and partner Myrid Bartlett on their new farm at Moyarra, Victoria

He said: “I grew up in Monaghan on a mixed enterprise farm and worked in Ireland, UK and New Zealand before finally settling here in Australia.

“I previously managed a farm for a large company about 20 minutes away, where I owned the cows and leased them to the farm.”

New dairy farm purchase in Oz

When it came to buying the farm, Brian said he was quite lucky to have an understanding bank manager who actually knew the farm in question.

“We were lucky to have a bank manager who understood what we wanted to do and also knew the history of the farm we were buying,” Brian explained.

“At that time the milk price was great and interest rates had not risen much, so we were quite lucky with our timing.

“The manner in which we came across and were offered this farm was also quite fortuitous and while it took substantial saving, planning and support, we are aware that there was some simple good luck involved too,” he added.

Plans are in motion to increase the herd from 400 to 500 cows

Brian explained that the original plan was to milk 270 cows but he was able to lease 60ha of land next door and he subsequently signed up another 20ha of milking platform lease.

“Most of the farms we looked at, that were within our budget, were only capable of milking 200 cows,” he continued.

“This farm had good pasture and a good sized dairy but everything was run down so it has taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch.”

Breeding goals

Breeding for milk production and a cow that can handle the Victorian hilly terrain is important to Brian, who is a big fan of the Jersey Friesian cross cow.

“During our first season here we milked 400 cows, of which 40% were heifers. Around 100 cows and 50 heifers came with us from the previous farm and I bought the rest from the previous farm owner and three local herds,” he said.

“The majority of the cows are Friesian Jersey crosses but there are also some pure Friesians and Jerseys. AI is used for six weeks and bulls for a further six weeks.”

Last season the cows produced 380kg of milk solids per cow at 4.8% fat and 3.7% protein and this season Brian is aiming for 440kg of milk solids per cow while expanding to 500 cows.

Drought conditions turns the grass dry and brown in the summer months.

“Our milk is sold to Saputo, a large Canadian company, at $9.40 per kilo of milk solids or 77 Aussie cents a litre,” Brian added.

“We aim to breed a medium-size efficient cow that is very fertile, can walk long distances and cope with our hills, using the New Zealand breeding worth index as it aligns with our system the best.

“I want a cow that produces one kilogramme of milk solids for every kilo of liveweight,” he said.


Brian’s cows graze outside all year round in one herd. The only sheds on the farm are a calf unit and a 30-unit herringbone parlour using a combination of GEA and Milfos equipment.

Cows are milked in a 30 point herringbone parlour.

“As the farm is still developing, we are trying to keep investment in machinery and technology to a bare minimum and use contractors for everything apart from feeding and fertiliser,” Brian continued.

“Our silage is made in round bales and fed out with a Hustler bale unroller on a 75hp Landini tractor.

“Most of the investments we have planned are for basic things like laneways to allow for more efficient grazing.

“We plan to extend our collecting yard and replace our milk vat with a bigger one and add an autodraft system. I would like to have an automated heat detection/ health system, but that’s probably another year away,” he added.

Brian’s farm has its own challenges sitting in the rolling hills of Victoria

Looking to the future, Brian’s goals are to pay off debt and expand cow numbers on leased land. He is rearing over 200 heifer calves this year to allow for milking more cows in two years.

“Hopefully we will get the opportunity to buy more land around us, including some of what we currently lease,” he added.

“I wouldn’t rule out a second farm in the future but developing this one is the current priority.”

Like many other dairy farmers worldwide, obtaining labour is a problem for Brian, who currently employs one full-time worker and two casuals during calving.

“Other challenges here include dry summers, but we sow chicory as a crop to provide green feed early in the season,” Brian explained.

Brian sows chicory to provide green feed in periods of drought

“The chicory will provide eight to 16t dry matter per hectare depending on rainfall in the first summer and then it is over seeded with perennial ryegrass.

“This year we are planting 8ha of fodder beet to provide home-grown feed in late summer and early autumn,” he concluded.