Instead of giving up something this Lent why not put into place better farming practices?

1. Get a Financial Plan

Why not aim to budget better for the 40 days of Lent and beyond?

Teagasc recommends that farmers monitor; analyse and plan and with many some dairy farmers planning on expanding having a good financial plan in place is essential.

2. Measure grass

By measuring grass growth farmers can identify the quantity of the of feed on their farms. This is important as it will show if there is too much grass growth and the surplus needs to be cut to make silage. The opposite is also true as it will determine if there is not enough grass and dairy cows will need extra feed.

Dairy farmers who have a grass budget and keep their farm on target cover save €100/cow/year in feed costs, Donal Patton, Teagasc Ballyhaise recently told the Irish Grassland Association Dairy Conference.

Teagasc has a really handy guide as to how to measure grass here.

3. Focus on Grass Quality

Good grassland practices are essential for a profitable dairy farm, according to Donal Patton of Teagasc and his advice is simple.

“It’s all about getting farmers producing a large quantity of high-quality grass. Farmers need to start thinking about the quality of grass they are getting into the cow.

“With the milk quota abolition on the horizon, maximising grass growth and utilisation on farm are key components of profitable dairy farms.”

4. Milk record

Milk recording can tell you which cows are the most productive in terms of far, protein and milk yields, yet only 6,500 herds are doing it.

Early milk recording will also indicate if there is any presence of infections after the dry period.

5. Register calves

Avoid penalties by registering calves within the 27-day time frame. Previously farmers have waited until they had a number of calves born to register them.

The ICBF says better data recording leads to more accurate genetic indexes.

It also says that more informed breeding decisions will leave more profitable stock on farms and this will increase output at both farm and processor levels.

6. Tackle Lameness

With many dairy farms planning expansion and increased herd sizes dairy cows may have to walk longer distances.

This is turn could cause lameness in cows. Several farmers at a recent Teagasc Dairy Expansion Seminar spoke of the difference in their herds after investing in better road ways for their cows.

“Four years ago we dug a lagoon we came up with good road way material and we resurfaced roads we thought were good, so they were all then extremely good, and two years later we hardly had a lame cow,” Walter Power, a dairy farmer from Co. Tipperary, said.

7. Farm safely

Last year saw one of the highest incidences of farm deaths and accidents on Irish farms. For the next 40 days, make farm safety a positive attitude and habit on your farm.