The National Dairy Conference is set to take place on Tuesday, November 28, and Wednesday, November 29, at the Lyrath Estate Hotel, Kilkenny and Hotel Kilmore, Cavan, respectively, Teagasc has announced.

Commenting ahead of the conferences, Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc’s Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer, said: “’Seizing Opportunities for a Better Future’ is the theme for this year’s event and an exciting panel of speakers has been assembled to explore the issues that will shape the future of dairy farming in Ireland.”

Delivering the keynote address in Kilkenny will be Sean Molloy of Glanbia, who will outline both the challenges and opportunities faced by Glanbia in the marketplace and what response Glanbia has for these issues. Molloy will also present findings from a Glanbia supplier survey recently conducted.

Meanwhile, Michael Hanley, chief executive of Lakeland Dairies, will give a similar presentation from the Lakeland Dairies perspective to the Cavan conference.

The rest of the conference is similar for both venues, according to Teagasc.

The judges for the recent Grass10 Grassland Farmer of the Year competition will highlight the key features of the winning farmers. In addition, two of the farmers who won awards, Eddie O’Donnell, the overall winner of the National Grassland Farmer of the Year Award, and Ed Payne, the Connacht/Ulster regional winner, will speak at the Kilkenny and Cavan events respectively.

Dealing with the sharp rise of Ireland’s dairy cow population – an extra 300,000 cows in the last four years – particular attention will be paid to the issue of people and labour on dairy farms.

Paudi Kelly, the lead author of Teagasc’s “People In Dairy Report” – released earlier this year – will outline the changing trends in cow numbers and the estimated requirement for additional labour as a result; the six key strategic actions needed by the industry as a whole to meet this issue will also be covered.

One of the key challenges facing many dairy farmers is to balance the dual roles of a working manager. This dual responsibility involves managing other people doing the work, and also getting on with the job at hand themselves – a balance not always easily achieved. Management consultants Margaret Dorgan and Karen Brosnan will address this matter.

The final presentation in the “people” part of the conference will look at how dairy farmers can prepare for the peak in workload in the spring. Two dairy farmers – Phil Purcell and Mark Cassidy – will outline their own strategies for the coming spring.

The final session of both conferences will provide attendees with the opportunity to hear some of the more recent results from the comprehensive research programme at Teagasc.

For those interested, more information – including the full programme and booking info – is available on the Teagasc website.