Dairygold to invest €500,000 in milk supplier development programme in association with Teagasc
7 September 2007
Dairygold Co-op, the country’s largest farmer owner milk processor, today announced a €500,000 investment in a three year on-farm dairy development programme in association with Teagasc. The programme seeks to identify and implement better farming practices specifically designed for Dairygold milk suppliers and ensure that those practices are effectively communicated across the Co-op’s entire supplier base. The ultimate objective is to improve the efficiency and profitability of both the Co-op and all its milk suppliers.
Building on previous programmes, this programme will see Dairygold employ an additional two new specialist dairy advisors and establish fourteen Monitor Farms across the Dairygold catchment area. In addition the programme will see a major expansion of Farmer Discussion Group activities from 34 groups at present to over 60 by the end of the plan.
The 14 monitor farms will act as demonstration units for the latest husbandry practices in milk production from the Teagasc dairy research centre at Moorepark. The objective of the programme is to enhance dairy farm profitability and to ensure that Dairygold’s milk supplies will meet the Co-Op’s particular product requirements from milk solid and supply pattern point of view. The performance of these farms will be monitored and recorded with the information on successful practices channeled to all Dairygold suppliers to improve their operations and maximise income.
Commenting on the programme, Dairygold Chairman, John Walsh said, “The programme is being developed against a background of the identifiable future challenges for Dairygold and the dairy industry;
- Dairygold’s growing ingredients business,
- the new A+B-C milk pricing system,
- Ireland’s seasonal milk production profile,
- the prospect of milk quota abolition, and
- maximising our competitive advantage in grass based production.
It is part of our overall focus on ensuring that dairying remains a viable and profitable option for all Dairygold suppliers.”
He added, “Dairygold has operated a very successful joint programme with Teagasc for over ten years now but this time around we are setting very specific and ambitious targets. The Teagasc research is built around identifying and implementing ways in which our suppliers can better meet the specific milk solids requirements of Dairygold’s product portfolio.”
Specific objectives of the programme are:
- Grassland Management- An annual 5% increase in milk production productivity from pasture.
- Compact Calving- In year one, 70% of cows submitted to AI in the first 3-weeks of the breeding season and 80% thereafter.
- Use of High EBI Sires- Average EBI of sires used will be greater than €100 with 50:50 weighting on milk production and fertility.
- AI Use and Replacement Rate- 35 AI bred heifers/100 cows produced annually.
“Teagasc has long been an excellent source of leading edge dairy research. Through this programme we will also seek to vastly improve the Co-Op’s ability to channel the successful results of the Monitor Farm operations to our entire supplier base. The proposed expansion of our Discussion Groups will be very important in this regard. I would encourage all suppliers who are committed to improving their farming operations to consider joining their local Discussion Group.” Mr Walsh added.
Billy Kelleher, Dairygold Monitor Farm Co-ordinator said “This programme is about the efficient conversion of pasture into milk solids. Farmers need to supply the co-op with high solids milk in a more even profile throughout the year. This programme will lead the way in highlighting, demonstrating and evaluating the value of milk solids to the mutual benefit of farmers and Dairygold Co-op. This is the 3rd phase of this joint Teagasc/ Dairygold programme and the renewal of the programme demonstrates the commitment both organisations have to promoting best practice and development on dairy farms.”
On the future for quotas, Mr. Walsh explained, “There has been some discussion at EU level on quotas and their impact on the development of an efficient EU dairy industry. While a mechanism for phasing out quotas has not yet been proposed, a gradual increase in quotas from 2009 to 2015 seems to be one preferred option. This would necessitate increases in milk production efficiency and scale at both farm and processing level. This programme will provide the milk production blueprints that will help our suppliers to take full advantage of any expansion possibilities that such a scenario would offer.”
Wishing all participants every success with the programme Mr. Walsh said, "Our aim is to ensure that these Monitor Farms become benchmarks for best farming practice in their locality and that the best technology for competitive farming tailored to Dairygold’s requirements is used by the maximum number of our suppliers.”
Editor’s Note - Programme Operation, 10 point summary
- The programme begins with identifying the particular milk solid requirements and milk supply patterns most suited to Dairygold customer product portfolio including its growing ingredients business.
- Teagasc will focus on developing improved milk production technology and techniques to better meet those specific Co-op milk intake requirements.
- A total of 14 Monitor Farms, evenly spread across Dairygold’s catchment area will have their farming performance monitored and recorded. Key Performance Indicators will include milk production, feed usage, genetic merit, calving pattern, financial performance and physical resources
- Data for each farm will be gathered from a number of sources including creamery records, grass measurement records, Profit Monitor data, herd plus records, ICBF and Department of Agriculture and Food to create a central database.
- Over the course of the three years of the programme the 14 farms will benefit from the advice and assistance of Teagasc’s Moorepark specialists and will in effect provide the vital link between the technology being developed at Moorepark’s research facilities and that adoption of best practices at farm level.
- The information gathered on the Monitor Farms will be made available to all milk suppliers in a variety of ways including farm walks, Discussion Groups, the Co-Op newsletter and the media with the Discussion Groups acting as the most active communications channel.
- Over the three years of the programme it is planned that the number of Dairygold Discussion Groups will be increased from 34 to 60 (over 1,000 Dairygold suppliers) and they will focus the attention of their discussion on the 14 Monitor Farms and the four key objectives of the programme.
- Two additional Teagasc specialist discussion advisors will be added to the programme bringing the total number of specialist to four while the local Teagasc dairy advisor will organise and facilitate the discussion group operating in their area.
- The performance of each dairy farmer in the Discussion Group Programme will also be monitored on each of the three years of the programme with their 2007 performance used as a base line.
- Over the three years a benchmarking exercise will compare the performance on each Discussion Group farm with their 2007 base line performance This will help to highlight and promote the adoption of best practices at farm level that in turn result in improved farm profit.