Being a sustainable dairy farmer: What does it take?

Over the past number of years, sustainability from a number of perspectives has come increasingly to the forefront of Irish dairying.

Farmers, who recognise the challenges that this presents, and adapt accordingly, will continue to thrive and prosper in the years ahead.

This year’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference, which takes place on two separate dates – December 3 and 5 – will provide guidance on “being a sustainable dairy farmer”, and demonstrate the steps that you can take to ensure that your farming operations are profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable.

Being a sustainable dairy farmer involves adopting new technologies, but also renewing the best practices of the past.

Irish dairy farmers have never been slow about adopting research proven technologies; in fact, they have been enthusiastic innovators during the last decade, which has contributed greatly to improvements in the productivity of the Irish dairy herd.

As an example, look at the changes in the genetics (EBI) of the Irish dairy herd in the past twenty years – a real example of the rapid adoption of a new technology by dairy farmers.

To be a sustainable dairy farmer, your farming operations need to be profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable.

Profitability

Your business will not sustain itself unless it is profitable and provides an adequate compensation for you, your family and your investment, management skills and labour.

Environmentally sound

We all have to do more to preserve and renew the resource base that sustains us all, increase the positive impacts of agriculture on the environment, while reducing its negative impacts.

Socially acceptable

The quality of life of farmers and their families should be prioritised, including both their farming and non-farming activities.

This year’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference takes place on Tuesday, December 3, in the Killarney Convention Centre, Killarney, and again on Thursday, December 5, in the Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Teagasc will be examining technologies and practices which will allow dairy farmers and the overall sector to improve its sustainability; while exploring further technologies to be developed in the years to come through our research programmes.

As well as several Teagasc speakers, an exciting line up of dairy farmers will address the conference, as to how they have all followed different pathways into dairy farming.

They will also outline how they have improved the sustainability of their farming businesses through achieving a good work:life balance, managing the number of hours worked, while also engaging in a range of off-farm interests.

At the Killarney conference, Sinead Walsh will join the panel discussion. Sinead is a recent Pallaskenry graduate who is working full-time on a dairy farm milking 300 cows.

Sinead grew up on a dairy farm in Loophead, but always aspired to be a nurse until one day something changed her mind; watch her story below:

At the Mullingar conference, hear from Brendan Elliott, a dairy farmer from Killucan, Co. Westmeath.

Brendan joins the conference to tell us how – even though he’s not from a farming background – he was able to follow his dream of farming and take a route into dairy farming through a Farm Management apprenticeship with the Farm Apprenticeship Board.

Watch his story here:

More information

The Teagasc National Dairy Conference 2019 takes place on Tuesday, December 3, in the Killarney Convention Centre, Killarney, Co. Kerry, and on Thursday, December 5, in the Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

For more information on the events, and to book your tickets, just click here . Early booking is advised.