Kildalton College is the largest of the seven Teagasc colleges in the country providing courses in Agriculture, Horticulture and Equine Studies. The Kildalton farm consists of 167 hectares of mixed dairy, tillage and drystock enterprises. These farm enterprises are a vital resource for student training, skills development and skills proficiency testing. The enterprises are also used as monitor farms providing performance and financial information for open days and farm walks.
Kildalton College offers a wide variety of agricultural courses to prospective students. These courses are provided from an entry point at QQI level five certificate courses with progression in a range of courses to level seven and eight higher degree courses provided primarily in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and also with University College Dublin (UCD).
Kildalton College consists of a 100 cow spring calving Friesian and Jersey cross herd. The herd allows students to experience a low input grass based milk production system. A new milking parlour was built in 2009. The Advanced Certificate in Dairy Management students manage their own herd at the college farm as part of their course.
The herd is made up of 60 continental cross suckler cows plus replacements. All progeny are reared to beef. The aim is to maximise liveweight gain off grass and minimise winter feed costs. Bulls are finished at under 16 months and steers at 24 months old. Top AI bulls are used on 50% of the herd and a stock bull on the rest of the herd. The Kildalton College suckler herd has one of the highest Eurostar ratings in Ireland and is part of the Better Farm Programme.
Dairy Calf to Beef
22 male animals are finished at 2 years of age. The system demonstrates key performance targets for a dairy beef system and is managed on a leader follower rotation system.
There are approximately 180 ewes on the college farm. 80 ewes are lambed in early January 80 lambed in the mid-season production system from the month of March. All lambs are finished off grass in a mixed grazing system with the suckler herd. The suckler/ sheep unit is approximately 61ha.
About 30ha of the farm is used for arable crop production at present. The crops are grown for research purposes, skills training and commercial purposes. The students on the Advanced Certificate in Machinery and Crops Management course are actively involved in the primary cultivation and establishment of these crops. The tillage crops grown in Kildalton include winter wheat, spring wheat, winter barley, spring barley, spring oats, winter oats, winter oilseed rape, beans and maize. Bio-energy crops such as willow and miscanthus are also grown. Kildalton College also has a crop demonstration area which includes a large variety of crop varieties and different management techniques. Students can also use the crops centre to complete projects ad research trials.
Students get hands on training with a modern fleet of machinery and equipment. There has been strong interest in the Advanced Certificate in Machinery and Arable Crops at Kildalton College in recent years.