IGA summer tour to focus on high-profit and high-return dairying
The Irish Grassland Association (IGA) will focus on ‘high-profit‘ and ‘high return on investment’ milk production at this year’s Dairy Summer Tour.
The annual event takes place on Tuesday, July 24, when it visits two successful, grass-based dairy farms in the ‘rebel’ county.
The major focus of the event is achieving a high, whole farm profit and converting a leased farm to milk production to achieve a high return on investment.
Maximising the use of grazed grass in the cows’ diet will feature prominently on both farms.
Speaking at the launch of the event, Michael Bateman, chairman of the tour, said: “The focus of the event continues the theme of January’s dairy conference, where the twin topics of achieving a net profit of €2,500/ha farmed and/or a return of 15% or more on assets invested through the leasing route were highlighted.”
Kevin Ahern, farm manager at Shinagh Dairy Farm, Bandon, Co. Cork, was invited to host the tour.
Ahern has managed the 78ha leased farm since its establishment in 2011 by the four west Cork co-ops. All of the land leased comprises the milking platform and a 232-strong dairy herd – stocked at three cows per hectare.
During the conversion process, a large degree of investment was carried out, including: 2.1km of roadways laid; a 20-unit milking parlour constructed; reseeding of over 50ha; and the conversion of a slatted shed to a 200-cubicle shed to accommodate the rapidly-expanding herd.
The herd produced 397kg of milk solids per cow – at 4.54% fat and 3.79% protein – on 320kg of meal last year. Milk solids production per hectare stood at 1,200kg. This was achieved from an average of 17.1t/ha (dry matter) grass grown last year.
The tour will also visit the farm of Conor and Josie Kelleher at Rearour, Aherla, Co. Cork. The Kellehers farm 57ha, practically all of which is owned.The farm consists of 142 cows, with the the milking platform stocked at 3.4 cows per hectare.
2017 saw a growth of over 16t/ha of grass dry matter. This allowed the herd to produce 527kg of milk solids per cow – at 4.50% fat and 3.75% protein – on 830kg of meal.
Both farmers stress the importance of breeding the right cow for their production system, with added emphasis being placed on improving soil fertility.
Financial focus is key when it comes to driving a successful business. Cash flow reports on a monthly and multi-annual basis are carried out on both farms.
This year’s event promises a further opportunity for farmers to learn first-hand from two progressive, financially-driven dairy farmers.
The fundamentals of grass utilisation and maintaining efficiencies are key for all farmers, particularly in a period of volatile milk prices.