Review: Milk Quality Conference

The 2013 Teagasc National Liquid Milk Conference and farm tour took place in Navan, County Meath. This year’s event included a morning seminar in the Ardboyne Hotel Navan, followed by an afternoon visit to the farm of Kevin Meade, Stackallen, Slane.

A range of topics were discussed during the morning seminar. Including cash planning; liquid milk and getting the basics right, from farm to fridge and high quality grass silage. Speakers will also be talking about the facts on feeding fibre at grass indoors, and for dry cows and farm business, among many other subjects.

Large numbers of dairy farmers from all parts of Ireland attended the conference, The event was organised against a growing expectation at farm level that milk production has a bright future, given the current state of world dairy markets and the abolition of quotas in the spring of 2015.

Here is a recap.

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Highlights

An animal health surveillance of dairy herds in the vicinity of a large industrial chemical cluster in the Cork Harbour region was presented at the conference by Jim Buckley, formerly of Cork County Council. His areas of research undertook a milk residue survey in the Cork Harbour area in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and Cork County Council.

Nationally, if the mastitis cell count was reduced by 10 per cent, it would be worth €37.6m for the Irish dairy industry. This is according to Teagasc’s Laurence Shalloo who was also speaking at the Milk Quality Conference. Mastitis was identified as a priority disease within the Irish dairy industry by both dairy farmers and industry animal health experts, which led to the development of the CellCheck programme.

Another highlight of the conference was a new tool to improve milk quality standards which has recently been developed at Teagasc, Moorepark. Speaking to AgriLand, Teagasc dairy specialist Tom O’Dwyer, said this new digital platform is a key communicator to stress the importance of milk quality for dairy farmers.

“Some 85 per cent of the milk produced in Ireland is exported and a significant amount of that is included in infant milk by processors. The milk quality requirement here is very high and more focus and attention in a quality product is needed, now more so than in the past. Good quality is demanded by the market now.”

There was also an interesting discussion on milk quality trends in Ireland 2006-2011. Improvements in milk quality and udder health are fundamental to retaining the competitive advantage of the dairy industry, especially in the manufacture of high-value dairy products, according to Teagasc’s Dr David Gleeson who spoke at the conference.

With this in mind, the objective of the Teagasc researcher’s study, which was presented the conference, was to assess current trends in bulk tank milk quality between 2006 and 2011.

Full reports are available here.

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