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Episode 40

Research & findings from the High Input-High Output herd at UCD

UCD dairy lecturer Karina Pierce joins us on the Dairy Edge to give an insight into the rationale behind the high input-high output research herd at UCD Lyons Farm.

Some of the key factors that have prompted the study are limitations to dairy production such as land availability, labour and environmental constraints.

Karina explains the ambitious targets set out including high EBI cows and a high level of fertility performance in a spring-calving grass based production systems as well as achieving high milk output.

Karina acknowledges the adverse relationship between high milk yield and fertility in the past but explains while fertility in the first two years has been disappointing, practices such as pre-breeding heat detection and scanning, a move to twice-a-day AI and the use of scratch cards in conjunction with the MooMonitor has helped improve conception and pregnancy rates during the 2018 breeding season.

Karina estimated the cows in the Lyons study consume 6 tonnes DM of feed to maintain themselves and fuel high milk productivity, of which concentrates is 1.5 tonne (25%). The cows are producing 590 kg MS over a 305 day lactation, just 5% off the target of 625 kg. She emphasises the importance of achieving high output where you are feeding high levels of concentrate.

Episode 39

Why forage crops are an option for this winter

There has been an increase in forage crops as a means to bridge the forage deficit on farms in Ireland as forage crops can grow large quantities of feed over a short time period and Teagasc's Research Officer, Nicky Byrne, gives an insight into the management of forage crops ahead of the winter period. 

Nicky discusses the feed quality of popular forage crops and advises farmers to consider providing a bolus to stock in order to ensure mineral requirements are met. 

Plus, get practical tips on daily feed out, including how to manage the transition period and the use of double fencing to prevent gorging and illness. 

Finally, Nicky looks ahead to 2019 and suggests an appropriate date to commence reseeding to get paddocks into grass production.

Episode 38

The best practice and financial benefits for optimum dry cow procedure

Ahead of the Dry Cow events that will take place across Ireland this Autumn, Mastitis expert Don Crowley speaks about the importance of the dry period and its impact on future production and profit potential. 

Don looks at the key management factors leading up to dry off, the treatment process and after dry cow therapy. He also explains good preparation, hygiene and making sure you have enough help are key factors for successful dry cow treatment, all within farmers control! 

Finally, Don gives an insight into selective dry cow therapy, and suggests what cows it would work for in your herd.

Episode 37

Filling the feed deficit this winter

On this week's episode of The Dairy Edge podcast, Joe Patton gives an overview of the scale of winter fodder deficit on farms across the country.

Joe explains that the fodder deficit is greatest in the south and south west of the country.

He suggests that options such as wintering groups of stock off farm and increased levels of supplementary feeds can reduce feed deficits on farms for the winter ahead.

Joe also advises all farmers to take action right now to prepare for the winter - assess the quantity of feed in the yard (measure pit and get silage tested), get rid non-production stock from the farm and measure feed space.

Episode 36

Ed Payne continues his interview with Emma-Louise Coffey on this week’s Dairy Edge to discuss all things labour

Ed explains how a team in excess of ten labour units including family labour, full-time labour, relief milkers and seasonal staff manages the 470 cows with Ed crediting the team as the driver of high technical performance, work satisfaction and work-life balance. 

The backing of such a strong team has also given Ed the opportunity to pursue a Nuffield Scholarship including international travel for up to six weeks at a time.

Episode 35

Ed Payne and achieving high levels of grass utilisation

Connacht/Ulster Grass 10 champion Ed Payne joins Emma-Louise Coffey on this week’s Dairy Edge to discuss the decision to convert to dairy farming and practices that helped attain the regional grassland award.

Ed gives an insight into the production system, emphasising the importance of grazed grass and cow. Achieving 10 grazings per year, high stocking rate and being mentally prepared to get out grazing early in the spring helps achieve high levels of grass utilisation.

Episode 34

The common mistakes and what's needed for successful farm partnerships

Teagasc’s Farm Business Specialist Tom Curran joins Emma-Louise Coffey on this week’s Dairy Edge podcast to discuss the various collaborative farming structures operating in Ireland.

Tom gives examples of case studies of farm structures including as partnerships, cow leasing and contract rearing identifying important criteria to consider and typical costings per animal. Tom also explains the considerable benefits these structures can offer to farm business such as improved lifestyle, ability to build cow numbers and increasing profitability.

Episode 33

The opportunities and benefits of collaborative farming

Is collaborative farming for you? Teagasc’s Paidi Kelly joins Emma-Louise Coffey on this week’s Dairy Edge podcast to discuss the opportunities and benefits from collaborative farming. 

He explains how and why it works for those interested in farming as a career while for established farmers who don’t have a successor, the next best thing is to work with younger people who want to get into farming.

Episode 32

Management through this secondary drought

A secondary drought has hit the east and south of the country and on this week's episode of The Dairy Edge podcast, Grass10 campaign manager, John Maher, explains best management of this drought.

Where growth rates are low at 20-40 kg farmers must maintain a 30 day grazing rotation, using supplementary feed to fill the gap in the cows diet. John explains that there is still Nitrogen in the ground but there is value in spreading Nitrogen between now and the extended closing deadlines.

Where growth is normal, John advices to follow the standard recommended autumn grazing guidelines - farm cover/cow of 300 kg by the end of August and continue to build cover into September in order to extend grazing. For farms growing in excess of 100 kg, farmers should take advantage of the opportunity of making surplus silage as well as building autumn grass.

Episode 31

Insights and tips from New Zealand in dealing with summer drought conditions

Andre van Barneveld of Graise Consultancy, draws on his experience of dealing with frequent summer droughts in New Zealand and has some key lessons that Irish farmers can learn from the summer of 2018.

Andre explains the importance of identifying ‘passenger cows’ who should leave the herd ASAP. Where grass production is restricted, these cows are being fed solely from supplement feed. Andres emphases the importance of calculating the winter feed requirements of your whole herd, including young stock. In order to reduce winter requirements, farmers should maximise grass production late summer/autumn grazing period.

Episode 30

Identifying the best and worst cows in your dairy herd

On this week's episode of The Dairy Edge podcast, ICBF Geneticist Dr Margaret Kelleher gives the top tips on identifying the best and worst cows in your dairy herd.

Firstly, Margaret explains what the Cows Own Worth (COW) index is, what information contributes to each cow's COW value and how the COW index differs from the EBI.

Briefly, the COW index is for selecting the best cows for retention in the herd and the worst cows for culling, while the EBI is used for breeding.

Furthermore, Margaret explains why a cow would be ranked best and worst for a herd. Traits that would rank a cow best is early calving, good milk solids production, high EBI and low SCC compared to contemporaries in the herd. Margaret emphasises inputting insemination records, scanning records and treatments for incidence of ill-health such as lameness and mastitis are important to get the most accurate picture of your herd.

Episode 29

How to achieve higher grass production and utilisation

For part two of our interview with 2017 Grass 10 champion Eddie O’Donnell, we get the top tips on achieving high grass production and more importantly utilisation.

Eddie explains what practices implemented on his farm to optimise soil fertility, grazing infrastructure, reseeding and grassland management which has helped achieve on average 10 grazings per paddock plus a silage cut.

Eddie emphasises the huge Potassium (K) demand on the milking platform where surplus grass is removed in the form of bales.  With that in mind, the paddocks are colour coded in the parlour and paddocks with low K are earmarked for dirty water and no surpluses are removed from such paddocks.

Having quantified the financial benefits of completing a grass measurements, Eddie speaks about the benefits of the 3 grazing seasons: spring, summer and autumn. Furthermore, Eddie mentions that farmers must act on the figures resulting from measurements to ensure the grazed grass is at maximum quality at each grazing.

Despite the target rotation length set at 20-21 days, Eddie explains growth rate and pre-grazing cover (target 1,400-1,500 kg DM/ha) dictates rotation length, and at peak growth, rotation length can go as low as 16 days.

Episode 28

Farming tips from Grass 10 champion Eddie O’Donnell

On this week’s episode of the Dairy Edge podcast, the 2017 Grass 10 champion Eddie O’Donnell gives us an insight into his dairy farm.

Eddie and his father Denis have grown their dairy farm business substantially from 70 cows in 2005 to calving down 350 cows across 2 units in 2018.

Eddie explains changes on the farm in recent years such as extending lactation length after the abolition of milk quota and introduction of crossbreeding.

He acknowledges the benefits of entering the Grass 10 competition, giving him the opportunity to take a critical look at the grass and other aspects of the farm and encourages any farmers that are considering grass measuring to join a grazing coaches' group or buddy up with a farmer who is already measuring.

He also explains the considerable measurable financial benefits that he has seen since he began grass measuring including reduced feed costs and improved milk quality.

Episode 27

The importance of hygiene and sustainability on the Walsh farm

We revisit the farm of milk quality award winners John and Brendan Walsh with John giving an insight into his farming life and how his milk hygiene practices really changed with the new milking parlour, while Brendan explains the importance of sustainability to the family farm.

Episode 26

Part 2: Soil recovery time and cows’ diet in drought conditions

On part two of this week's episode of The Dairy Edge podcast, Grass 10 Manager, John Maher, speculates on recovery time from soil moisture deficit once it rains. 

With depleted grass covers on many farms across the country, John suggests different diets to feed cows over the coming weeks, emphasising the importance of water in the cow's diet with water demand doubling!

Episode 25

The grass management tools you need for the dry conditions

How can dairy farmers cope with the current summer dry conditions? Teagasc's, Grass 10 Manager, John Maher gives the top management tools. He explains the link between soil moisture deficit and grass growth whilst also advising on fertiliser strategy, 2nd cut silage and management of recently reseeded ground.

Episode 24

How to cope with the summer drought conditions

With the ongoing summer drought conditions, Emma-Louise Coffey presents some of Teagasc's key advice and tips to help farmers cope and manage with their grassland management.

Episode 23

Insights and advice from Milk Quality award winners John & Brendan Walsh

On this week's episode of The Dairy Edge podcast, milk quality award winners John and Brendan Walsh explain the practices that help them produce the highest quality milk ahead of their Open Day on July 4th.

John emphasises the importance of hygiene and grassland to maintain good udder health while Brendan qualifies how they achieve up to 300 days at grass and treatment protocol for cows with mastitis.

Episode 22

Achieving a work-life balance with once-a-day-milking

On this week's episode of The Dairy Edge podcast, we hear from Dairy Farmer Gillian O'Sullivan about how once-a-day milking helps her family achieve work life balance.

Gillian is farming near Dungarvan with husband Neil and father Michael. Gillian and Neil began dairy farming almost 10 years ago, and credits her father's wealth of knowledge, their local dairy advisor Brian Hilliard and other farmers at discussion groups and events as the main source of information when entering farming.

Gillian explains the benefits of the once-a-day milking systems with particular emphasis on the positive effect on labour and the benefits it confers for their young family as well as positive health and fertility benefits for their cows.

Milk solids took a 20% hit in the first year of once-a-day milking but recovered in Year 3 to levels of 365 kg milk solids - similar to what they produced twice-a-day. They have now exceeded this performance, delivering almost 390 kg milk solids in 2017. Gillian emphasises how the A+B-C payment system is advantageous to them with 9% milk constituents and lower milk volume.

Episode 21

How to maximise grass utilisation during a drought

On this week’s episode of the Dairy Edge podcast we speak to Aidan Lawless, Farm Manager of the dairy herd at Johnstown Castle.

As the gap widens between the milk production of the spring and autumn calved cows, Aidan explains the current performance and diet.

Cumulative performance is similar for the autumn herd compared to the 2016/2017 lactation, while the spring calving cows have a consistently lower protein % compared with 2017.

Aidan talks through current grassland management practices with particular emphasis on methods to maximise grass utilisation during this period of moisture deficit. Finally, Aidan quantifies the first cut silage yields achieved in late May.