The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering Northern Irish dairy farmers the opportunity to travel to England to learn about large dairy herd management.
Average herd size has been steadily increasing in Northern Ireland, the department said, with a number of units now milking in excess of 200 cows.
This increase has resulted in owners and managers being faced with new challenges, which this study trip is aiming to educate and provide advice on.
The group will leave from Belfast International Airport on the morning of Monday, March 6, and return on the evening of Tuesday, March 7.
The tour will be led by dairy advisors from DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).
It will include visits to two large-scale dairy farms in Yorkshire. Both these businesses are milking in excess of 650 cows with annual production in excess of 11,000L milk sold/cow/year.
Each business employs large numbers of staff, many of whom are part-time and have little previous farming experience. Both have very detailed protocols for each activity on the farm.
The areas that will be studied in more detail on the trip include:
- Managing large herds to achieve optimum performance;
- Recruiting, training and managing staff;
- Developing and implementing clear work protocols.
The application process
Applications are invited from one member or employee of a farm business that milked 200 cows/year in 2020/21 or 2021/22, is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education.
Preference will be given to applicants who complete physical and financial benchmarking of their dairy business.
To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return. 16 places are available and these will be allocated on a competitive basis, the department said.
The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme and part funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland and meals when in Great Britain.
Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance.
Applications will open on Monday, January 2, 2023 and close on Friday, January 13, 2023 at 4.00p.m.