The over-arching theme addressed by all of the speakers at this week’s National Milk Records’ Open Day, hosted by Co Down milk producer Charlie Weir,
was the need to have the proper protocols put in place, in order to deal with the day-to-day management of a dairy farming business, but also to allow for the ongoing development of the enterprise. Six hundred farmers from all over Ireland attended the event.
Charlie Weir stressed the importance of utilising the best independent nutritional and veterinary advice available, in order to maximise output per cow while – at the same time – minimising the number of problems and challenges confronting the staff working on the farm.
The need to ‘work smart’ was a recurring aspect to the presentation given by Cow Signals’ specialist Martin Kavanagh. Citing the growing level of ‘burn out’ amongst Irish milk producers, he stressed the need for farmers to develop management systems that gave them a better work:life balance. Part of this development process should entail them recognising more effectively the needs of their cows.
Veterinarian Marcel Mulholland detailed the various animal health protocols followed on the Weir farm. He stressed the importance of regular meetings with the farm management team and other consultants to ensure that – if at all possible – animal health related issues were prevented from taking hold in the first place.
Among the key decisions made courtesy of this process was the commitment to put in place specific accommodation facilities for fresh cows. According to the Lurgan-based vet this had already started to pay off in terms of cows producing more milk in the early weeks of their lactation while, at the same time, demonstrating much stronger heats during their first 70 days in milk.