Converting to milk production involves a major commitment and sizeable capital outlay. Therefore, you need to be sure you are making the right decisions.

Due to the success of last year’s Dairy Start-Up Course, Teagasc will once again run this course in many locations for farmers interested in converting their farm to milk production. This course will begin in September/October 2019.

The course will involve visits to the Teagasc Moorepark research centre and farms that have recently converted to dairying, as well as the opportunity to engage with leading Teagasc dairy researchers and advisors.

In the video below, Robert Birney 2019 course participant explains the benefits of the Start-Up Dairy Course.

The course

This course is designed to help you decide whether dairy farming is right for you,through establishing what the likely costs and returns from dairy farming would be for your farm.

The course will be practical and interesting, mixing both the principles for successful dairying with the practical skills required for the start-up process.

In summary, the purpose of this course is to equip the farmer with the knowledge, skills and competence to effectively plan and carry out a successful dairy start-up.

The course will be offered in two parts. The first part consists of four training days, starting in autumn 2019, followed by a final day in autumn 2020. There is also an optional day available for farmers thinking of going down the robotic-milking route.

Farmers will then have a unique opportunity to participate in a discussion group, where the group will meet monthly from January to November (10 meetings) in 2020.

Course content:
  • Cost of converting your farm to dairy milk production;
  • Expected costs and returns from milk production;
  • Farmyard design;
  • Grazing infrastructure;
  • Reseeding;
  • Animal breeding;
  • Animal health and biosecurity;
  • Milking machine design and wash routine;
  • Milking routine;
  • Milk quality.

The 10 discussion group meetings will have a strong focus on best practice in relation to grassland management and animal breeding and health.

More information

The cost of the course is €750 (€600 for Teagasc clients) per participant and the closing date for expressions of interest for the course starting in autumn 2019 is July 15.

Teagasc dairy specialist Martina Gormley will head up the initiative.

“The course will benefit farmers who are strongly thinking about making the switch to dairy farming and for existing farmers who wish to up-skill,” Martina said.

“This course will ensure that best practices are implemented from day one. Many existing dairy farmers have suffered financial loss from buying in and breeding cows with poor constituents and fertility.

“Farmers who attend this course will be in a far better position when purchasing dairy heifers and this is why the majority of new entrants are in the top 5% for milk price.

“Also from a labour point of view, farmers whom attend this course will make less mistakes on farmyard design. Poor cow flow and overall lack of future proofing the farmyard adds massively to stress, safety and hours worked.

“The farmers who attended last year’s course have obtained great value from meeting with researchers and the discussion group meetings,” she added.

Any farmer interested in applying for the course, can do so by clicking here or by talking to your local Teagasc advisor.