Young people will earn more money from dairying across their working lives than they will from the construction sector.
That is the view of Michael Murphy, one of the country’s leading dairy farmers.
His comments come in the wake of Teagasc predictions that application levels for agricultural college courses will decrease by 10-15pc this year.
The fall-off is attributed to the recovery in the construction sector.
The drop in agricultural college throughput has impacted on the numbers coming through for advanced Teagasc courses, such as the Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management which is run out of Moorepark.
Despite the massive demand for management staff on dairy farms, intake into the Moorepark course has halved over the past two years, falling from around 60 in 2015 to 27 this year.
However, Mr Murphy urged young people to take a long-term view when assessing their career options.
“If someone is good enough then they will make an awful lot more money over their working lives in dairy farming than in construction,” Mr Murphy maintained.
“I am talking about talented, hard-working people who are good with money, cows, grass and people,” he added.
He said the “rapid professionalisation” of dairying, as well as the sharp increase in herd size, was creating exciting opportunities for new entrants.
Mr Murphy added that farmers needed to “streamline their systems” so that if they started at 6.30am in the morning, they needed to be out of the yard by 5pm.
Teagasc estimate that the dairy sector will need approximately 6,000 new entrants over the next decade to replace retirees and meet the requirements of expanding herds.