An Open Day at the Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark has attracted more than 10,000 dairy farmers today, Wednesday, 3 July.

Irish dairy farming is entering a period of immense opportunity and challenges with the imminent abolition of EU milk quotas in April 2015. These changes will create opportunities for dairy farmers to grow and redesign their farming businesses.

This major Moorepark event focused on a roadmap for high-profit dairy farming under Irish conditions. Dairy farmers were told that the immediate challenge is to increase the competitiveness of their farming business through the adoption of grass-based technologies. An extensive book was distributed, which described how this can best be achieved.

Dairy farmers heard how Ireland’s competitive advantage in milk production is based on the efficient production and utilisation of pasture; this is still the only viable model of producing milk in Ireland for a competitive world market. The Open Day highlighted the importance of the adoption of farming systems that are resilient to external forces, incorporating sufficient tactical flexibility to overcome unanticipated events, such as those seen this spring.

Head of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation Programme Dr Pat Dillon said: “Dairy farm expansion can increase farm profits in the longer term and provides opportunities for new people to develop careers within dairying. However, farm expansion also places additional short-term financial pressures on the existing farm business and the growing farm business requires additional resources, mainly financial and labour.”

A forum at this year’s Open Day examined alternative pathways for young people to enter and develop within the dairy industry. Farmer speakers outlined alternative pathways to careers within profitable expanding dairy businesses and illustrated the benefits for both established farmers and enthusiastic new people developing within these expanded businesses.

Dairy farmers at Moorepark on the day saw the latest Teagasc research results underpinning the development of new technologies in relation to grassland, dairy cow genetics, sexed semen and land drainage, among a range of others.

Pasture-Base Ireland, a new decision support tool to help dairy farmers achieve higher milk production from grassland was demonstrated. The latest results from the large industry funded sexed semen study indicate that it has the potential to significantly increase the competitiveness of both milk and meat production. A land drainage hand book was produced for the day outlining the most efficient drainage methodologies.

The Open Day provided an opportunity for dairy farmers and the service industry to discuss these recent developments in milk production technology with Teagasc Research and Advisory staff. The Teagasc research programme is funded from state grants and dairy levy research funds. FBD Trust, were the overall sponsor of the Moorepark’13 Open Day.

Image O’Gorman Photography