With restrictions prohibiting large gatherings from taking place, the Irish Grassland Association’s Dairy Summer Tour will take an on online format this July. Revisiting three farms that hosted the Event from 2014 to 2016, video clips from the farms airing on Twitter and Facebook from Monday to Wednesday, July 20th – 22nd will look back at where the host farmers were at the time they hosted the tour, where they are now and where they see themselves going in the future. Then on Thursday 23rd July all three hosts will join the Irish Grassland team and sponsors AIB for an online meeting to answer your questions about the direction that their farms have gone and about their plans for the future. Commenting at the launch of this year’s Summer Tour, Tadhg Buckley, Head of Agriculture, AIB said, ‘We are delighted to continue our support of the Irish Grassland Association Dairy Summer Tour. The approach taken by the Association this year has been necessary in response to the global pandemic and the cancellation of large scale events. This year’s event will allow us catch up with some of the previous tour hosts and see how things have changed since they hosted the Summer Tour, in terms of development, changes in performance and future strategy. The live webinar on Thursday evening will also offer the opportunity to ask our hosts any questions you may have. We at AIB are looking forward to this distinctly different 2020 Dairy Summer Tour just the same as previous tours’.
David Kerr from Ballyfin in Co. Laois hosted the event in 2014. The theme for the event was ‘Successful strategies for expansion’. His strategy was based on increasing herd size from within his highly fertile dairy herd with investment in low cost slurry storage and cow accommodation. Over 450 farmers from around the country attended to hear how David
operated a predominantly grass-based system of milk production on his 160 acre farm. Milking 140 cows that year, just prior to quota abolition, David also reared his replacement heifer calves but the yearling heifers were being contract reared off farm. That year the cows were on course to produce 400 kg milk solids. At a farm stocking rate of close to one cow per acre, he expected grass growth to exceed 14 tonnes of dry matter on this mixed free-draining and peaty farm.
Farming outside Oranmore, Co. Galway, Henry Walsh hosted the event in 2015. The farm
comprised a 76 ha milking block on free draining limestone land. Henry had developed his system of farming to exploit this advantage fully and expanded the herd to milk 240 cows in 2015. This rapid expansion has brought challenges in terms of infrastructure and labour but critically had not impacted on efficiencies with cows producing 450 kg milk solids throughout the expansion process. At the time of the event, part of the plan for over
wintering involved moving a combination of young stock and dry cows off the milking platform for part of the winter to graze mostly crops of deferred grass. Milking facilities had become an issue with the 16-unit parlour coming under pressure as herd size increased. In the year prior to the event, the herd produced an average of 430kg MS/cow from 450 kg of concentrate per cow and had an 85% six-week calving rate that spring.
2016 Conor Creedon, from Rathmore, Co. Kerry hosted the dairy summer tour on what turned out to be the warmest day in the year. With a theme of ‘milk production on more challenging soils’, Conor farms on an elevated site rising up to 300 metres above sea level. His farm typically receives almost 2 metres of rainfall per annum. Unusually, the milking platform has a shallow topsoil over a gravelly subsoil which, while freedraining, is hungry for lime, phosphorus and potash. Conor’s milking platform was 26 ha and stocked at 3.73 cows/ha in 2016. He had a highly fertile herd with 97% of the 97 cows calving in 6 weeks He had produced 413 kg milk solids the previous year.
‘On Thursday evening Stuart Childs will host the live meeting online and will interview the three hosts. He will also put audience questions that can be submitted in advance as well as during the webinar to the three farmers to further understand the direction they have taken since hosting the summer tour on their farm.
Also. on the evening, Tadhg Buckley of AIB will speak on the prospects for dairy markets in the latter half of 2020. While this will be a different offering to our regular summer tours, we hope that you will participate by watching the videos from each farm throughout the week and then join us on Thursday evening for the live interview and Q & A with our farmer hosts and our sponsors AIB.
For more information logon to the Irish Grassland Association website www.irishgrassland.ie and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for links to the Dairy Summer Tour online event in the coming weeks if you are not already doing so!’
Revisiting three farms that hosted the Event from 2014 to 2016, video clips from the farms airing on Twitter and Facebook from Monday to Wednesday, July 20th – 22nd will look back at where the host farmers were at the time they hosted the tour, where they are now and where they see themselves going in the future.
Then on Thursday 23rd July all three hosts will join the Irish Grassland team and sponsors AIB for an online meeting to answer your questions about the direction that their farms have gone and about their plans for the future.