Milk production in Ireland has increased from 5.5 billion litres to over 7 billion litres, and that trend is set to continue, the Teagasc National Dairy Conference has heard.
That was the message from Michael Hanley, chief executive of Lakeland Dairies, who delivered the keynote address at the Teagasc event today (November 29).
“Our milk suppliers are increasing production by about 5 per cent per annum and we have had a significant number of new entrants across our catchment area. We are well invested in processing facilities to process this additional milk and we are selling product into 80 countries around the world,” Mr Hanley said.
“Half our milk supply comes from Northern Ireland and half of the supply come from farmers in the south of Ireland, so Brexit is an obvious concern. We have two processing sites in Northern Ireland and three processing sites in the south of Ireland so, depending on how Brexit turns out, we have a contingency plan.”
John Maher, co-ordinator of the Teagasc Grass10 campaign, highlighted the opportunities for farmers to grow more grass, utilise more grass and earn higher profit. This new Teagasc campaign has set a target of achieving 10 grazings per paddock per year and a target of utilising 10 tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare annually. The Grass10 campaign is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, AIB, FBD, Grassland Agro and the Irish Farmers' Journal.
Dairy farmer, Ed Payne from Tulsk in Co Roscommon, regional winner in the Grassland Farmer of the Year awards, said that grass is the key driver on their family farm, with the focus on getting cows to graze grass as many days in the year as possible. He stressed how important the six-week calving rate is for grass-based spring calving dairy systems.
Paidi Kelly, Teagasc, discussed structural change and its implications for Irish dairying. He said that expansion and structural change is creating a sizeable demand for employed labour. To attract people to work on farms, farmers need to be seen as employers of choice offering a workplace of choice, Mr Kelly said.
Teagasc director, Prof Gerry Boyle, said that Teagasc has been asked to convene a taskforce on the labour issue and to report in spring on possible actions to alleviate the labour issue on dairy farms.
Morgan O'Sullivan, Teagasc, presented results from the Next Generation Herd at Teagasc Moorepark which indicated superior profit per lactation from cows selected for high Economic Breeding Index (EBI).