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Liquid Milk Conference to Address Rising Feed Costs

The Teagasc National Liquid Milk Conference takes place on Wednesday 20 October. The conference, sponsored by Ulster Bank, takes place against a backdrop of rising feed costs which threatens margins on liquid milk farms. The event begins with a morning conference at the Talbot Hotel, Wexford before moving to outdoor demonstrations at the Teagasc Johnstown Castle research farm in the afternoon. Teagasc analysis shows that production costs were 3 cent/litre higher on liquid milk farms compared with the average spring milk farm last year. With the increase in feed costs coinciding with the start of autumn calving, liquid milk producers, who feed large amounts of meal across the winter, will be hit particularly hard.

Liquid milk producers need to search carefully for value for money when purchasing winter feeds and forages. According to Dr. Siobhan Kavanagh, Teagasc, ‘Profit Monitor analysis of liquid milk herds shows that feed accounts for approximately half of all variable costs on liquid milk farms. Potentially the increases being reported in meal costs could increase milk production costs by up to one cent/litre this winter’. In her paper, Siobhan will evaluate the feedstuffs currently available and identify which feeds are currently overpriced and which represent value for money.

Dr. Joe Patton, Teagasc Liquid Milk specialist based at Teagasc Grange will review the performance of the liquid milk research herd at Johnstown Castle. According to Joe, two years of research has now been completed with the winter calving herd. With almost 6,900 litres of milk delivered per cow and up to 28,000 litres delivered per hectare from the high stocking rate group, they’re placed in the top 5 per cent and 1 per cent respectively of liquid milk herds nationally this year. At the conference, details will be presented of the diets fed to the herd and review the reproductive and financial performance of the herd from the past two years’.

Luke O’Grady from UCD’s veterinary college completes the morning line up of speakers at the conference. Much needed advice on controlling metabolic diseases in high yielding liquid milk herds will form the focus of his presentation.

In the afternoon, delegates are invited to visit the Johnstown Castle dairy research facility. Among the topics being discussed at the farm are: Guidelines on grazing practices for autumn-calving cows presented by Teagasc researchers, Moorepark; Bull selection guidelines for liquid milk herds; managing soil phosphorus levels on high input farms by Teagasc researchers Johnstown Castle. In addition, the Johnstown Castle liquid milk herd will be on view at the start of its third season on the trial.

Admission to the conference is free. The conference qualifies as an approved event for participants in the Dairy Efficiency Programme.