Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

The Dairy Edge Podcast Archive

Episode 88

Vet Niamh Field joins Emma-Louise Coffey to take a look at the health status of the national dairy herd and gives key tips to maximise the health of your herd.

Niamh looks to the metabolic diseases that occur on dairy farms, commonly occurring during the spring and she emphasises the importance of dry cow management to prevent incidence of disease.

Management steps include optimum BCS at dry off (2.75 to 3.25) and BCS at calving (3.00 to 3.50) and good dry cow minerals with Magnesium inclusion of 20g per day.

Niamh explains there is a multidimensional approach to herds protecting themselves against infectious diseases. These include immunity, the cows environment and exposure to disease.

One of the most important steps to maintaining a health, disease-free herd is biosecurity.

Beyond this, disease screening such as bulk milk sampling and blood sampling will identify the prevalence of individual diseases. Vaccinations can be affective to control or eliminate disease.

For more information:


Episode 87

Trevor Donnellan joins Emma-Louise Coffey to review the comprehensive climate action plan (Teagasc Greenhouse Gas Marginal Abatement Cost Curve) compiled by Teagasc to reduce the emissions from Agriculture.

Trevor speculates that the dairy herd will continue to grow, albeit at a lesser rate to that in the last 5 years. Conversely, it is suspected that suckler numbers will remain at similar numbers or contract.

The action plan also discusses 25 mitigating strategies including change of fertiliser product type, change of slurry spreading methods, improved fertility, healthier animals and planting of forestry.

Trevor explains that emissions from the agricultural sector is to the fore in Ireland as they create 33% of total greenhouse emissions compared with 10% in other EU countries.

To read the plan in full click here

Episode 86

In the second part of a two-part interview with dairy specialist Padraig O’Connor on the importance of a good milking routine, Padraig takes us through teat preparation and cluster attachment ahead of milking.

Best practice includes each quarter prior to cluster attachment. This helps with early detection of mastitis. Padraig recommends that mastitis or high SCC cows should be treated at the end of milking when the operator has sufficient time to treat them and eliminate the chance of cross contamination.

Episode 85

Dairy specialist Padraig O’Connor joins Emma-Louise Coffey for the first of a two-part interview to discuss the importance of a good milking routine. Padraig explains that a good milking routine ensurse quality produce, safety for the operator and time efficiency in completing the task. He advises all farmers to make sure their milking machine is in working order, getting at least one major service annually. Additionally, Padraig emphasises the importance of a clean environment for cows, placing particular emphasis on entry/exit points to the yard and paddocks, roadways and water troughs. Another effective way to keeps cows clean is clipping tails 3-4 times per year.


Episode 84

Dairy specialist Joe Patton joins Emma-Louise Coffey to identify the key traits that drive profitable winter milk systems.

Joe compares top winter milk herds with average. Top herds have higher output from the same concentrate input as average. The difference is top farmers are achieving greater grass utilisation and feeding higher quality grass silage during the housed period.

The second driver is fertile cows. Joe targets 375 day calving interval, meaning there are greater days at peak milk production, lower number of days dry and reduced number of cows recycled.

Hear more from Joe at the Winter Milk event at Teagasc Johnstown Castle: National Winter Milk Event

Episode 83

Johnstown Castle farm manager Aidan Lawless joins Emma-Louise Coffey to discuss full lactation performance for the winter milk herd and current milk and grass production.

The winter milk herd have produced 620 kg MS approximately 20 kg ahead of 2017 and 2018 lactations. Aidan credits increased milk yield, rising milk solids and getting out to grass in early January as factors that have driven high milk output.

40% of the winter herd are still milking and will be dried off this week, currently on a restricted diet with the view to depress milk yield. Aidan is extremely happy with fertility performance recording just 8% empty this year.  The spring herd are currently milking 23 litres or 1.8 kg MS, declining from peak of 32 litres.

Grass production was a challenge in July with a substantial soil moisture deficit and growth rates half of projected growth based on the Johnstown Castle average. Heavy rainfall in late July/early August has helped recovery to normal growth.

Finally, Aidan highlights the upcoming Winter Milk event at Johnstown Castle on the 4th September, covering a range of topics from feed management, genetics, fertility to soil fertility.

For more information: National Winter Milk Event

Episode 82

Grassland researcher, Mike Egan, summarises the autumn grazing management guidelines to maximise the amount of grazed grass in the diet of dairy cows in the autumn period.

Right now, farmers should be extending rotation length by 2 days per week and building cover.

Mike gives an insight into a grazing experiment looking at altering grazing management practices in autumn and examining the effects on animal performance and grassland in both the autumn and spring.

Mike explains that where herds are carrying high stocking rates on the milking platform and calving more compactly (reflected in higher 6 week calving rates), they need to consider closing the farm earlier and at a higher cover.

For more information:

Autumn Grazing Management

Effects Of Autumn Grazing Management On Spring Grass Availability (PDF) 

Episode 81

Dairy specialist Joe Patton has advice on creating a fodder reserve to reduce the risk to farm businesses in the event of future adverse weather events.

Firstly, farmers need to quantify the total grass production on their farm. Following this, stocking rate should be calculated allowing 5.5 tonnes of grass should be allowed per cow.

Optimal stocking rate does not account for any surplus or reserve within systems and therefore, a reserve must be purchased. An average reserve of 400 kg DM/cow (2 bales) in areas of low grass growth variability and 600 kg DM/cow (3 bales) in areas of high grass growth.

For more information: Securing A Reserve Of Quality Forage On Dairy Farms (PDF)