Dairy farmers with an 80-cow herd could be losing up to €560 per week because of high somatic cell count (SCC) and a new course, costing a fraction of this, has been developed to improve milking practices on dairy farms to help alleviate these and other inefficiencies affecting farmer’s pockets and herd health.

The Certified Milking Course to develop the skills of dairy farmers has been developed by Teagasc, FRS Network (Farm Relief Services) and AHI (Animal Health Ireland) and is part subsidised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Successful completion of the ‘Best Practice in Milking’ course will result in a FETAC/QQI Level 6 Certificate. It involves two days training followed by an assessment and includes practical on-farm milking sessions. It is designed to develop the skills of the milker to ensure that all cows are milked effectively and efficiently and reduce preventable waste by producing lower somatic cell counts (SCC) and better milk quality.

The course is unique as it brings together the theory elements of milking and the practical implementation of the theory. A customised DVD aids its delivery and acts as a reference guide after the course. Course tutors have been specifically trained and course content approved by the experts in the area of milking best practice.

Courses, which begin in July, are open to all levels of milking experience from new entrants and people interested in relief milking to experienced dairy farmers. The cost of the course is €250 to each participant, which includes €250 Department funding and advanced booking is advised as funding is limited and is on a first come first served basis.

At the Launch of the course Minister Coveney said; “By improving standards and improving current farming practices through this milking course will help take this industry to the next level and to where we need to be in order to provide the best produce efficiently and compete on the wider international stage. The department is backing this course through its funding and encourages farmers to upskill their current practices and new entrants to put the best foot forward and complete the course.”

Tom O’Dwyer, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer Teagasc says “With the expected increase in cow numbers and milk output, there is a requirement to train more milkers, as well as upskilling current milkers. A skills based course relating to milking skills has been sought by a number of representative bodies and Teagasc is delighted to have worked with FRS and AHI in the development of this new course. A number of our advisers have been trained to deliver course material and I look forward to the nationwide roll-out of the course over the coming months.”

Courses are available nationwide on a first come first served basis and can be booked online at www.frstraining.com/milkingcourse or by calling 1890 20 1000