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How pedigree herds are preparing for future challenges through their breeding

Laurence Feeney, CEO of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA), is on this week’s Dairy Edge podcast to discuss how pedigree herds are preparing for future challenges through their breeding.

Laurence started by telling us a little bit about his background from his time involved in some breeding projects on the home farm in Co. Meath to his time spent with Progressive Genetics for over 20 years, before taking up his current position as CEO of the IHFA.

Laurence explains the breeding objectives of IHFA members and says that as fertility has improved so significantly in the last number of years, their members are now looking at traits such as mastitis and lameness to ensure the longevity of their cows can be matched by their ability to stay walking well and continuing to produce high milk quality. As a consequence of these areas of focus, they are seeing a little more emphasis being cast on conformation traits.

When discussing banding, Laurence cautions against making massive system changes in response to the impact banding may have on farms as massive system changes can make systems more complicated and not necessarily more financially rewarding.

He suggests that people need to focus on increasing efficiency and the milk solids sold from their farms with limited or no increases in milk litres and reminds people that good fertility  leading to herd maturity alone can increase milk output on farms.

He also says that while IHFA members don’t generally have issues selling their dairy bull calves or their dairy beef calves, they are advising people make every effort to maximise the beef potential of the beef calves that they produce on their farms and to be prepared for any changes that may be coming into the future.

An objective for all farmers in his opinion should be to have a good fertile herd that results in a reduced requirement to carry non-productive stock and maximise the productive animals they can carry within their stocking rate and nitrate limits. This efficiency will be important both financially and environmentally.

For more episodes from the Dairy Edge podcast go to the show page at https://www.teagasc.ie/animals/dairy/the-dairy-edge-podcast/
The Dairy Edge is a co-production with LastCastMedia.com