This year’s Irish Grassland Association (IGA) Dairy Conference – sponsored by Yara – will address the twin themes of managing labour and resetting financial and physical targets on Irish dairy farms.

The themes of the conference are very topical, as the abolition of milk quotas has resulted in the rapid expansion of the Irish dairy industry.

One in four farms now milk more than 100 dairy cows; the average herd size on these farms is 175 cows. Such rapid expansion is creating employment opportunities and challenges. As a result, many dairy farmers now need to contract out more work; become employers for the first time; or increase the size of their workforce.

Jan Jensma of Yara and Rosalyn Drew, IGA council member

With labour and land now the new limits to expansion, the time is ripe to review and reset the physical and financial measures for grass-based dairy farm businesses.

This year’s conference is divided into three parts:
  • How the workload is currently being managed on commercial dairy farms;
  • Why there is a need to update the physical and financial targets for spring-calving herds;
  • How experienced employers manage to attract and retain their workforce.

Managing labour requirements on grass-based dairy farms

David Kerr and Kevin Aherne will describe how they operate their dairy farms; what work they do themselves; and which tasks they employ contractors to complete on their dairy farms.

David farms near Ballyfin, Co. Laois, and was one of the two hosts of the 2014 IGA dairy summer tour. Since the tour, he has increased the size of his dairy herd from 120 to 160 cows.

Kevin farms at Shinagh Dairy Farm, Bandon, Co. Cork, and runs a 230-cow dairy farm. In a follow on from his recent labour workshops, Teagasc dairy specialist Pat Clarke will review a dairy farmer labour survey and identify the characteristics of the most labour efficient farms.

Identifying and resetting dairy targets for the future

Michael Bateman will outline the rationale for changing and identifying the most appropriate measures of dairy farm physical and financial performance in the current era.

He will be followed by Moorepark’s Laurence Shalloo, who will explain the assumptions underpinning Teagasc’s dairy net profit target of €2,500/ha for spring milk producers.

3. Discussing the labour issue

Pat Dillon will describe his approach to attracting and managing staff at Moorepark.

Following this, he will join Co. Waterford farmers Pat Ryan, Cappagh, and Ester Walsh, Tourin Farms, in a panel discussion on attracting the best and getting the most out of staff.

When are where?

The conference takes place on Wednesday, January 17, in the Charleville Park Hotel. Online booking is the quickest method to secure your tickets and you will also avail of the best discounts available. Click here to book your ticket