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The Dairy Edge Podcast

The Dairy Edge is Teagasc’s weekly dairy podcast for farmers. Presented by Emma-Louise Coffey the podcasts will cover the latest information, insights and opinion to improve your dairy farm performance.

There are three ways to listen to the podcast:

  1. If you’re an iPhone user you can listen to the show by subscribing on Apple Podcasts by clicking on this link and listening via your Podcasts app on your iPhone: 
  2. If you have an Android phone, you can listen to the show by clicking on this link: 
  3. Or you can listen by clicking on the player below:

Episode 98

Padraig French joins Emma-Louise Coffey to measure the welfare of calves on Irish Dairy Farms.

Padraig explains that calf mortality at birth and at one month old is a key metric to measure calf welfare. Comparing the performance in Ireland over the last 10 years, calf mortality has fallen on farms, despite an additional 300,000 calves being born annually.

Mortality at birth declined from 1.95% to 1.30% and mortality at 28 days declined from 3.71% to 3.20% comparing 2011 with 2019 figures.

Additionally, Padraig explained that the births were equal across males and female calves. Total calf in the 1st month of life at 4.5% in Ireland is half that of our international counterparts.

Furthermore, he briefly reviews a trial carried out by researchers John Barry and Emer Kennedy. They measured the level of Immunoglobulin levels in the blood of calves which indicates whether a calf received adequate colostrum. Padraig explains that both male and female calves received adequate colostrum.

Padraig also encourages farmers to take a look at their facilities and available labour to ensure dairy farmers continue to maintain a high calf welfare status within their own herd.

Episode 97

Dairy expansion specialist Patrick Gowing joins Emma-Louise Coffey to discuss his top tips for successful planning for expansion and new entrants to dairy.

Patrick emphasises the importance of purchasing the best stock possible in new entrant or expanding herds, explaining that €100 extra for high genetic merit in-calf heifers will pay for itself in the long term in terms of superior performance.

When deciding between heifers and cows, Patrick explained that heifers have the potential to survive in the herd longer than cows. Additionally, where a farm is existing dairy production, Patrick would consider the potential of high quality stock in such a herd.

Patrick also estimates the cost of milking facilities, buildings and grazing infrastructure as well as a contingency budget to ensure all aspects of the farm plan can be achieved.

Episode 96

Dairy advisor, Trevor Dunwoody, joins Emma-Louise Coffey to discuss alternative calf rearing facilities.

Trevor explains examples of use of calf hutches on silage slabs, rearing calves outdoors from 3-4 weeks of age, contract rearing, sale of non-replacement stock from 2 weeks of age and construction of a new calf shed or modifying existing sheds.

With calf hutches, calves are typically housed in groups of 3 to 8 and Trevor explains it is important that run off can be collected.

When rearing calves outdoor, it is important to identify a sheltered paddock or provide an artificial shelter. Calves are generally fed with a mobile feeder and therefore, can be managed in larger groups.

Listen to previous episodes here: Podcast Archive