Maintaining high levels of performance after expanding to a larger dairy herd is one of the main challenges facing farmers as they consider expanding their dairy enterprise post quota removal.
One family farm that has successfully achieved that is the farm of Tom and Simon Browne, Knocknagappagh, Killeagh, Co. Cork who hosted a Teagasc Large Dairy Herd Open Day this week.
Dairy cow numbers have increased to 820 plus replacements on a total farmed area of 486 hectares. The herd produced 1,746kg of milk solids per hectare on the grazing platform last year. The farm produced 12 tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare in 2013.
Ger MacMahon, Teagasc Regional Advisory Manager for Cork East said: “There are many lessons to be learned from this farm, the facilities, management structures and labour organisation that have been put in place and that can be usefully employed on other farms considering expansion. Risk management when operating at this scale becomes more important and during unfavourable weather conditions there are facilities for feeding and housing the dairy stock at any time of the year.”
Dr Pat Dillon, Head of the Animal & Grassland, Research and Innovation Programme in Teagasc said: “As the end of milk quotas nears, many dairy farmers are planning to expand milk production. While this will provide dairy farmers with significant opportunity for expansion, expansion will put additional pressure on family farms, especially in relation to the management of larger herds. Today’s open day gives farmers an opportunity to see directly the operation of a very successful large dairy herd.”