The annual Irish Grassland Association 2014 Dairy Conference will take place on Tuesday 7 January at the Newpark Hotel, Co Kilkenny.

This year’s event has a very exciting line up of speakers covering a range of topics. The conference will focus on many of the key things that must be put in place in advance of 2015.

According to the organisers, Irish dairy farming is on the eve of the post-quota era.

“With just one more complete quota year to go ahead of milk quota abolition it is crucial that farmers now focus on ‘getting things right’ in the dairy farm business to take advantage of the opportunities that will be available.

It added: “Maximising grass growth and utilisation on farm are key components of profitable milk production systems. Getting the balance right between pre-grazing herbage mass, grass quality and grass growth impacts on the productivity and utilisation of grazed grass on farm.”

In the first session of the conference Dr Eva Lewis of Teagasc Moorepark will outline research findings in terms of optimum pre-grazing herbage mass and its impact on herbage quality and annual grass production.

Abigail Ryan, also of  Teagasc Moorepark, will then share her experiences of what happens on farms across Ireland in terms of pre-grazing herbage mass, utilisation and effects on milk production.

John Curtis, a dairy farmer in Wexford, will tell delegates how he manages his grass to optimise quality to ensure maximum milk production from his farm.

According to the organisers, grass production and utilisation is one key aspect of milk production systems and many other factors will influence the profitability and the success of dairy farms post 2015.

A key conference session, ‘Key aspects of efficiency to put in place for 2015’, will focus on key aspects of efficiency that need to be put in place to optimise milk production systems post 2015.

Dr Pat Dillon, head of the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Moorepark will present what he considers the key aspects of efficient dairy farms for the post 2015 era. The paper will provide food for thought for all dairy farmers who want to maximise the opportunities that will become available from 2015 onwards.

In the third session of the conference, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation will outline where the EBI is taking us and what farmers need to focus on to ensure they have the most productive, fertile cows in their herd.

Dr Frank Buckley, Teagasc Moorepark, will give an update on the Next Generation Herd. Two dairy farmers with contrasting dairy cow types will outline why their cow will suit their system post quota. Shane Chambers from Cork has a predominately Jersey cross herd, while Jim Delahunty from Tipperary, has a Holstein Friesian dominant herd. This session will lead to an informed discussion on cow selection and cow type for the future.

The final session of the day will provide good perspective for grassland dairy farmers. Chris Knowles, a dairy framer from Cornwall in England will answer the question, ‘Why focus on grass post quota?’

On the morning of the 2014 Dairy Conference, there is an opportunity for Irish Grassland Association corporate members and members to meet at a breakfast gathering. Tom Clinton will be the guest speaker at this members breakfast gathering and will outline his thoughts on ‘Opportunities for corporate entities post 2015’.

For more information contact the Irish Grassland Association here. AgriLand will be reporting live.

Pictured at the launch of the Irish Grassland Association National Dairy Conference were: Tom Duggan, Zoetis with Eddie ODonnell, Irish Grassland Association, president and Bernard Ging, Irish Grassland Association, council member