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Ballyhaise Dairy Open Day

The reproductive performance of the dairy herd at Ballyhaise Agricultural College has improved dramatically over the last four years, demonstrating what can be achieved on dairy farms in the BMW region. An open day at Ballyhaise College on Thursday, 6 May at 10.30am will give all dairy farmers an opportunity to visit the farm and see the improvements at first hand. The theme of the event, which is sponsored by FBD Trust, is “Regaining Control of Dairy Herd Fertility”.

More replacement heifers will be needed to grow the dairy industry in future years and there is an urgent requirement to regain control of fertility on farms. The Ballyhaise college dairy systems experiment provides dairy farmers in the Border, Midlands, and West region with locally generated best practice research information and technology to secure their dairy farming livelihoods post milk quotas. At a practical level, the ongoing experiment focuses on the development of efficient milk production systems that will allow farmers to expand post-quotas based on high animal performance over a long grazing season from a predominantly pasture diet and excellent reproductive performance.

Speaking in advance of the open day, Teagasc researcher Brendan Horan said: “National statistics show that reproductive capacity on the average Irish dairy herd is poor resulting in significant financial losses. Key performance indicators such as calving rate and mean calving date illustrate this point. The average national calving date is mid–March, and just over half of animals calve in the first six weeks after calving start date. In contrast, the performance of the Ballyhaise herd has improved, with the 13-week empty rate reducing from 35 per cent to 17 per cent.”

He said: “Preliminary results from the Ballyhaise dairy study demonstrate that considerable potential exists to increase milk production from grass in the BMW region by increasing sward productivity in combination with an appropriate stocking rate and a compact calving, high EBI herd.”