The 2022 Irish Grassland Association Dairy Conference will take place on Wednesday the 20th of July in the Talbot Hotel Clonmel. In the two years since the last in-person IGA Dairy Conference, there has been unprecedent change in the world, affecting every part of dairy farmers’ businesses. Farmers are faced with record input prices, new environmental regulations and a challenging labour market. The Conference is divided into three parts to address these topics:
Controlling the controllables;
Attracting and retaining people.
Controlling the controllables
This session will focus on the tools that dairy farmers can use to manage the risks and opportunities in their businesses. There is a lot in the world now that is out of our control, however there are key elements within our own farm gates that we can control as farmers. This session will look at what we can do in our businesses to reduce these uncertainties. Prof Brendan Horan will outline the ways farms can maximise Nitrogen use efficiency, particularly important considering record fertiliser prices and the need to reduce the quantity of chemical Nitrogen applied and to improve water quality. Mary Kinston will outline the financial reality on farms where record milk prices have been accompanied by record input prices. Mary will use data derived from her discussion groups to give a current state of play on farms mid-way through 2022. Finally, Bobby Hovenden a dairy farmer from Co. Laois, will outline the decisions he made on his farm to create a more sustainable business, from both farm profitability and lifestyle perspectives. Bobby made the decision to reduce the number of cows milked on his farm to take the pressure off his farming operation.
In the second session, Prof Laurence Shalloo, Head of Animal and Grassland Research in Teagasc, will outline current and future environmental challenges facing the industry in the years ahead. Significant change and continued technology adoption by farmers will be required to overcome these challenges. Further research is also required. Finally Laurence will outline his vision for the Irish dairy industry and his thoughts on the new areas of research needed in the coming years.
Attracting and retaining talented people
The Covid pandemic has changed the way many people view their work life balance. The way employers recruit and retain staff will need to change to meet employees’ expectations. As a consequence, many dairy farmers have faced significant difficulty with staffing over the past 18 months. Mark Cassidy and TJ Kelly have large dairy farms and employ both full and part time labour. Both farms have expanded successfully by creating a positive working environment for their employees.
Dr Nollaig Heffernan will outline the science behind what successful businesses do to attract and retain the most talented people. The people who work in a dairy business are its most valuable asset. Maximising the efficiency of the people working in a dairy business will lead to better outcomes for both the staff and the business.
Prof Brendan Horan
Brendan is a Principal Research Officer with Teagasc at Moorepark. His research work currently involves the evaluation of low Nitrogen input grazing systems with ongoing projects at Curtins Farm, Moorepark and Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Co. Cavan. He has published extensively on the productivity and economic and environmental impacts of grazing systems. He is a graduate of University College Dublin with a PhD in Animal Science, the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and the MBA programme at University College Cork.
Bobby and Valerie Hovenden farm at Durrow, Co. Laois. In 2021 they milked an average of 128 cows producing 580 kg milk solids sold per cow (4.83% fat and 3.87% protein) with 1.2 tonnes of meal fed per cow.
Farm stocking rate is 2.0 livestock units per hectare. Labour and lifestyle considerations prompted the Hovendens to reduce the size of their dairy herd from a peak of 160 cows in 2018.
Dr Mary Kinston
Mary is an independent dairy discussion group facilitator, working mainly across Munster and Connacht. Her aim is to help farmers help themselves. Mary farms in partnership with her husband Kevin, with 500 cows across two milking platforms. Originally from Derbyshire in UK, Mary completed a BSc and PhD from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Mary has worked in New Zealand as a consulting officer for Dairy NZ, formerly Dexcel. After meeting a Kerry man, she took a brave step and emigrated to Ireland.
Prof Laurence Shalloo
Laurence is Head of the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme based in Teagasc Moorepark. Laurence graduated from University College Dublin with a first class honours degree in Agricultural Science in 1999, and completed his PhD in 2004 on the development and use of the Moorepark Dairy Systems Model to analyse institutional and technical changes in dairy farming. He joined the research staff at Moorepark in 2004. Laurence is also Deputy Director of the SFI/DAFM-funded VistaMilk Research Centre and is an Adjunct Professor at UCC.
Dr Nollaig Heffernan
Nollaig works as an independent management consultant specialising in leadership and organisational psychology. She is an author, specialist lecturer and conference speaker. Graduating with a BA in applied psychology and with a PhD in leadership psychology she works internationally across all sectors but is best known in the agricultural sector for presenting on leadership, employment, resilience, and time management. Aa a consultant, she helps businesses to improve their performance by increasing the efficiency of their most valuable asset, their people.
Mark farms in Kells, County Meath operating a 370 cow spring calving herd. In 2020 the herd produced 503kg milk solids (485kg sold per cow 5.13 % fat and 3.92% protein) with 800 kg meal fed per cow. Whole farm stocking rate is 2.47 LU/ha with the milking platform stocked at 3.02 LU/ha. Calving interval this year was 368 days and 83% of the herd calved in the first 6 weeks of the calving season.
TJ farms in Tuam, County Galway. In 2022 he is milking 300 cows on two milking platforms with 160 cows on the home farm and 140 cows on a rented farm 3 miles away. In 2021 the herd produced 503 kg milk solids per head (4.53% fat and 3.75% protein). This year 90% of the herd calved in the first 6 weeks of the calving season. TJ employs two fulltime staff members and additional part time staff. He is passionate about creating an excellent environment for all of the staff working on the farm.
Please click the brochure tab at the top of this page for more info.