All welcome to Johnstown Castle for the Teagasc National Winter Milk Event

Preparations are underway for this year’s National Winter Milk Event which is due to take place next week at Teagasc Johnstown Castle in Co. Wexford.

The event – which is titled ‘Building a Sustainable Winter Milk System’ – will take place on Wednesday, September 4, at 11:00am, and all are welcome to attend.

The dairy herd in Johnstown Castle was established in 2003 to provide a base for winter milk systems research in Teagasc.

The herd consists of between 130 and 140 cows, of which, approximately, 65% is autumn calving. 40% of the autumn herd is still milking, but are due to be dried off by the end of the month; before calving is due to begin on September 20.

Aidan Lawless – the current farm manager at Johnstown – commented on the current performance of the herd, on this week’s episode of the Teagasc Dairy Edge Podcast.

He said: “The herd has performed very well this year. We have recorded about 620kg of MS/cow, which is about 590kg of MS/cow delivered when you factor in milk fed to calves etc.

This is between 20kg of MS/cow and 25kg of MS/cow ahead of the average for the last few years.

“We got out early in January and had grazed grass in the diet nearly every day since, which definitely helped boost production for this year.

In terms of the fertility performance of the autumn herd, Aidan said: “We had an 8% empty rate this year after a 12-week breeding period; which we are very happy with.”

To hear the full podcast click here

What to expect on the day

The farm walk will include a farm tour, interactive sessions with expert speakers and there will also be practical demonstrations on display.

Topics to be discussed on the day include:
  • Review of Johnstown Herd winter milk project – spring versus autumn, block versus split calving;
  • Grazing management – targets for autumn grass, feeding freshly-calved cows;
  • Cow type for winter milk – breeding cows for lifetime performance;
  • Improving feed efficiency – balancing protein in the diet, feed ingredients for milking diets;
  • Managing cow health and fertility – dry cow feeding, uterine health, fertility protocols;
  • Multi-species swards for grazing dairy herds – legume and herb mixes for grazing dairy herds;
  • Improving soil nutrient profiles – soil pH, phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and beyond.

Speaking to AgriLand ahead of the event, Teagasc’s Joe Patton said: “We have come to the end of a cycle at Johnstown Castle.

The event will provide an update on both the herd’s performance and the research which has been undertaken over the last few years.

“There will also be some multi-species swards on display which we have begun doing some research on. These are sown in part on the farm and are being grazed by the spring herd.

“On the day, the major themes on the winter milk side will be on the questions around fertility / calving pattern and then sward quality versus winter feed.

“Then, on the environmental side, the major themes being on soil fertility and the multi-species swards.”

Admission to the event is free and there is no booking required. Discussion groups are welcome to attend.

The Johnstown Castle dairy unit is located 5km from Wexford town and the Eircode is: Y35 FN73.

To read more about the Teagasc Johnstown Castle Farm click here