The 2018 Irish Grassland Association Annual Dairy Conference sponsored by Yara takes place at 9am on Wednesday 17th January. Moving to the south west of the country, the Charleville Park Hotel plays host to this year’s Conference. The event addresses the twin themes of managing labour and resetting financial and physical targets on Irish dairy farms.
The abolition of milk quotas has resulted in the rapid expansion in the Irish dairy industry. One in four farms now milk more than 100 dairy cows. The average herd size on these farms is 175 cows. Such rapid expansion is creating employment opportunities and challenges with many dairy farmers needing to either contract out more of the work, become employers for the first time or increase the size of their workforce. With labour and land now the new limits to expansion, the time is now ripe to review and reset the physical and financial measures for grass based dairy farm businesses.
The Conference is divided into three parts:
Managing labour requirement on grass-based dairy farms: David Kerrand Kevin Aherne will describe how they operate their dairy farms; what work they do themselves; and which tasks they employ contractors to complete on their dairy farms. David farms near Ballyfin and was one of the two hosts of the 2014 IGA dairy summer tour. Since the tour, he has increased the size of his dairy herd from 120 to 160 dairy cows. Kevin farms at Shinagh Dairy Farm Bandon running a 230 cow start-up dairy farm. In a follow on from his recent labour workshops, Teagasc dairy specialist Pat Clarke will review a dairy farmer labour survey and identify the characteristics of the most labour efficient farms.
Identifying and resetting dairy targets for the future: Michael Bateman will outline the rationale for changing and identify the most appropriate measures of dairy farm physical and financial performance in the current era. He will be followed by Moorepark’s Laurence Shalloo who will explain the assumptions underpinning Teagasc’s dairy net profit target of €2,500 per hectare for spring milk producers.
Discussing the labour issue: Pat Dillon will describe his approach to attracting and managing staff at Moorepark. Then Pat will join Waterford farmers Pat Ryan, Cappagh and Esther Walsh, Tourin Farms, in a panel discussion chaired by Jack Kennedy, Assistant Editor of the Irish Farmers’ Journal on attracting the best and getting the most out of their staff.
Pre-Conference networking evening and dinner (This part of the event is sold out, sorry we have no places left for it, but conference tickets remain)
On the evening before the Conference (Tuesday 16th January), there is an exclusive opportunity and Irish Grassland Association members who book tickets to meet at an evening gathering in advance of the Conference. The 2018 guest speaker is Pat McDonagh, Founder and CEO, Supermacs who will be interviewed by former Irish Farmers’ Journal editor, Matt Dempsey. Pat will address the topic, ‘Growing a business with hired labour’. This part of the conference is very popular and tickets have sold out within three days.
The first 100 IGA members who purchase tickets for the Conference received tickets for our pre-Conference event. Pre-booking for this event was essential as places were limited and tickets were be issued on a strictly first come first served basis.
Booking the Conference
Online booking is the quickest method to secure your tickets (and you will also avail of the best discounts available). Alternatively you can post the completed Conference application form and your cheque to: IGA office, Cookstown, Kells Co. Meath.