Lakeland Dairies and Teagasc have today, Wednesday, April 17, launched phase three of their Joint Research Programme.

The programme has been running for the past six years and is aimed at maximising efficiency and profitability for dairy farmers on a sustainable basis for the future.

The renewed programme was launched on the farm of Mairead and Pat McLoughlin of Birr, Co. Offaly, who are suppliers to Lakeland Dairies.

The McLoughlins were recently identified as ‘Champions of Sustainability’ having won the overall Small/Medium Herd Category of the Bord Bia Origin Green Farmer Awards.

They are currently milking 64 cows and are new entrants to dairying since 2014.

Since the programme started, the following improvements have been made:
  • A 16% increase in MS/cow;
  • Milk protein has increased from 3.28% to 3.37%;
  • Calving intervals have reduced by 12 days;
  • The six-week-calving rate has improved by 20%;
  • Milk output has also increased by 50%.

In addition to the existing aspects of the current programme, the additional focus for the next three years will be intensified on four areas.

Milk Recording

Currently, 38% of Lakeland milk suppliers are milk recording but nearly 70% have the necessary equipment to allow for milk recording.

The programme will recruit a number of demonstration farms and research findings will be used to inform all Lakeland milk suppliers.

Lakeland Dairies will also participate in the Johnes Disease Control Programme with AHI, which will become a focus of the joint programme

Farm Labour Efficiency

As dairy farms continue to grow their milk production, farmers are increasingly seeing the need to recruit employees onto the farm.

The statement noted that this requires a structured process to ensure that it works out successfully both for the farmer as employer and for the new recruit as an employee.

Lakeland has already run workshops on this subject; however, the joint programme will use pilot farms to explore the benefits of high labour efficiency across a range of farm systems.

Breeding and genetics

According to the statement, both breeding and genetics will continue to be a prominent part of the Joint Programme.

There will also be an environmental sustainability link with other programmes run by Lakeland Dairies incorporating: water quality; biodiversity; and environmental sustainability.

Chairman’s message

Speaking at the launch, Lakeland Dairies’ chairman, Alo Duffy, said: “The Lakeland Dairies/Teagasc Joint Research Programme is a valuable and important initiative.

“Based on findings from experience on our milk supplying dairy farms, the knowledge that is being developed and the information and advice that we are able to share is excellent.

Anything that improves competitiveness and market returns for dairy farmers is welcome.

Concluding, Duffy said: “We are also very grateful to Teagasc for their excellent commitment to the Lakeland programme.”