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2015 National Award for Dairy Farming Excellence Launched

TOP DAIRY FARM TO OPEN FOR TEAGASC FARM WALK

The most recent national winners of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards will host a Farm Walk organised by Teagasc on the afternoon of Thursday 23rd April, 2014, as part of National Dairy Week. The announcement was made as co-ops and dairies throughout the Republic of Ireland are being invited to select and nominate their top dairy farmers for the 2015 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards, organised jointly by the National Dairy Council and Irish Dairy Board.

Eddie and Ann Dwan from Bohernamona, Thurles, Co. Tipperary are farming with their son Thomas, the third youngest of the family and fourth generation on the farm. They milk 105 cows on their 75 hectare farm and supply all of their milk to Centenary Thurles Co-op. The Dwans received the most recent NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Award, known as the ‘Sam Maguire of Farming,’ at a national ceremony in Dublin last October.

With EU milk quotas to be removed from 1st April, Dr. Tom O’Dwyer, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc alluded to the freedom that Irish dairy farmers will have to make decisions about how much milk they will produce on their farms. However, to produce and sell the highest quality milk products, it is vital that all milk supplied is of the highest quality. Consequently, the requirements on dairy farmers to produce milk of the highest quality are rising all the time. The key to producing quality milk is to have correct information, make the right decisions and carry out the recommended actions correctly. Many farmers, including the Dwans, are doing all the right things and other farmers can learn from their experiences. In many cases small changes can make big improvements in milk quality.

Aaron Forde, Chairman of the Irish Dairy Board, said that the Irish dairy sector is making an important contribution to our economic recovery. “Our success in building markets around the world for Irish dairy products is anchored on the commitment of Irish dairy farmers to consistently deliver world-class quality milk at a standard which global customers expect,” said Mr. Forde.

“We are grateful to the Dwan family and Teagasc for organising the Farm Walk,” said Jackie Cahill, Chairman of the National Dairy Council.

“It is a great opportunity for dairy farm families and new entrants into dairy farming to see at first-hand the types of achievable steps which can raise quality standards and which can help to maintain those standards throughout the year,” said Mr. Cahill. “This is a time of tremendous opportunity for the dairy sector but equally it has never been more important to promote best practice dairy farm management.”

In a 2015 survey of dairy co-ops there was widespread agreement that the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards help to show consumers the high quality standards on Irish dairy farms. However co-ops also believe that the awards help to raise awareness amongst dairy farmers about best practices in relation to quality standards, environment, animal welfare and sustainability.

Encouraging dairy co-ops to nominate their top suppliers for this year’s national awards, Mr. Cahill said that role models such as the Dwan farm help to showcase excellence.

Information about the Dwan farm and nominations forms for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards including the entry criteria and rules are available at www.qualitymilkawards.ie .

The minimum qualifying standard for entry is TBC of 15,000 or less/ml average per month; and average SCC of 200,000 or less/ml with no count greater than 400,000 ml in any given month of the year in question.

Nominations should be submitted from co-ops and co-op farm services managers based on the written nomination form, prepared in consultation with the farmer. The closing date is 15th May, 2015.

The national judging panel for the 2015 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards features Dr. Jack Kennedy (Deputy Editor & Dairy Editor, Irish Farmers Journal); Professor Patrick Wall (UCD); and Dr. David Gleeson (Teagasc).

Teagasc offers technical resources for dairy farmers ranging from a Milk Quality Handbook and Milking Equipment Cleaning Guide to a Milking Skills training course (offered in partnership with Farm Relief Services). Further details are available atwww.teagasc.ie .