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Large Attandance at Dairygold Dairy Day 2018 in Corrin Mart, Fermoy

Large Attandance at Dairygold Dairy Day 2018 in Corrin Mart, Fermoy

15th January 2018

At a packed “Dairygold Dairy Day” event, last Friday 12th January in Corrin Event Centre, Fermoy Dairygold Agribusiness and supporting partner companies preceded a highly regarded conference with informative stands to advise farmers on animal health, calf nutrition and other dairy farm necessities in advance of the calving season.

In opening the conference Seamus O’Mahony, Head of Sales & Marketing, Dairygold Agribusiness, gave an insight into the recent Dairygold Farmers’ Survey 2017. Citing the plans, opportunities and challenges being faced by farmers and setting objectives for the meeting, Seamus noted:

  • Labour is a significant issue for many farmers in 2018 and beyond with over 530 labour units required on dairy farms across the spring. Many farmers are looking outside the farm gate for labour, contractors and other mechanisms to reduce the long hours being worked on farm
  • From 2018 to 2022 Dairygold Member farmers intend to increase milk supply by more than 16% primarily within similar farm footprints
  • Efficiencies in labour, management and capital resources such as cows, technology and facilities need to be reviewed at farm level to ensure a sustainable lifestyle
  • Nationally Irish Dairy farmers have been at a low output due to milk quota but milk solids per cow have improved in recent years since cows with the uptake of breeding, grass and feeding technologies with a 20 kg of milk solids increase in 2017 alone

 

Dr. Stan Lalor of Grassland AGRO highlighted the fundamental importance of building a simple and easy-to-implement fertiliser programme for the farm. Using up to date soil sample results, every farm should build a simple fertiliser programme for the farm that is:

  • Easy to follow
  • Simplifies decision making around:
    1. Product selection
    2. Rates
    3. Timing of spreading

Making best use of slurry, as well as managing soil pH through liming and soil conditioning programmes are also essential.

Closing on the importance of having a good fertiliser plan in place for the year ahead, he said: “… we know from soil test results that 90% of our soils in Ireland are lacking in either lime, P and K. If you buy your fertiliser assuming your soils are okay without looking at soil test results, you could have a 90% chance that you bought the wrong product….”

He also noted that while weather is not a factor we can control in farming our primary aim should always be to set up your individual farm for good weather when it does come along and that’s what farming is all about

 

John Newbold, Head of Technical, Animal Nutrition, Volac; spoke on getting very young calves off to the best start. This requires “a high feeding rate of a milk replacer that provides the complex mix of proteins found naturally in milk in very early lactation”.

John’s primary point is that calves are expected to double their weight in 56 days so it is of primary importance to actually weigh the calf and set up milk replacer accordingly

John went on to say however, that, “it is vital to tailor the amount fed to the size of the calves in any individual herd…we need to first assess the weight of the new-born calf to work out that calf’s nutritional requirements.”

John closed off his very informative talk by going over the importance of encouraging a starter concentrate intake in the first weeks of the calves’ life. Some take away pointers were

  • Providing palatable, fresh starter & water from day 1
  • Using social housing (pair or group) 
is advantageous to calf growth
  • Reducing the milk offered over a 3-week period to facilitate solid feed intake
  • Offering a chopped quality forage with concentrate boost rumen development 
 Nollaig noted that by creating opportunities for improvement on the farm and giving oneself or staff responsibility here leads to higher performance.

 

Nollaig Heffernan, an independent Management Consultant spoke specifically on how to assess the need for employment on your farm coming up to the busy calving season. She make one key point that “first you need to be a good employer to attract good employees” and that every sector struggles to find good employees and that by only hiring people with a full skill set then you are really restricting your ability to attract labour.

Nollaig noted that by creating opportunities for improvement on the farm and giving oneself or staff responsibility here leads to higher performance. She closed the very informative talk by explaining the benefits of good communication and planning defined roles and tasks when employing labour. She also gave delegates present some real insights into planning and time management at a “self” level with the use of wall planners and priority setting tools. Nollaig had two key questions that every farmer should be asking right now leading up to Calving 2018.

  1. What might I need to do/do differently to get the best out of my employee?
  2. What can I do to make Spring Calving 2018 successful?

 

Dr Karina Pierce Associate Professor of Dairy Production in UCD gave some significant learnings in her presentation “Managing a High Producing Spring Calving Dairy Herd – The Learning from 2017”. Outlining the UCD Systems Herd key targets of 625kg milk solids per cow and on a simple grass plus 1.5tn concentrate /cow/year without a diet feeder she stressed “the cornerstone for this system is still grazed grass” with grassland management throughout the grazing season crucial to this. Karina closed her presentation by pointing out UCD’s “moderate input” herds key targets include.

  • Increase grass grown (14.5 tonnes)
  • Increase grass consumed in feed budget (3.2 t/cow)
  • Improve per cow performance (625 kg of Milk solids)
  • Improve fertility performance

Weekly updates of the UCD Lyons research herd can be found at https://www.ucd.ie/agfood/about/lyonsresearchfarm/lyonssystemsresearchherdnotes/

This concluded a very informative meeting for attending delegates.