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Successful Teagasc Dairy Conference

Hundreds of dairy farmers gathered in Kilkenny, yesterday, November 29, for the Teagasc National Dairy Conference on 'Adapting to a changing dairy farming environment'.

Successful Teagasc Dairy Conference
The Teagasc National Dairy Conference took place on Wednesday, 29 November in the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny. Pictured at the conference are: Dr Marion Beecher, Teagasc; Dr Joe Patton, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc; Dr Emma-Louise Coffey, Teagasc; Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD; Liam Herlihy, Chairman of the Teagasc Authority; and Professor Frank O’Mara, Teagasc Director.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD opened the conference, saying that the Irish dairy industry remains one of Ireland’s success stories. Dairy farmers are among the most resilient stakeholders in the country, producing over 8.8 billion litres of milk annually, with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, and with ambitions to make it even lower.

Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’Mara said 2023 has been a difficult year for dairy farmers with incomes falling. But he did point to an expected rise in 2024. He said there is a need to relentlessly focus on costs, specifically on some of the key metrics such as pasture utilised per hectare and the percentage of pasture in the cow’s diet, which both impact positively on profit. Professor O’Mara said that we need to stabilise and improve water quality. “We should leave no stone unturned to improve water quality and in Teagasc we will be prioritising that.”

Teagasc researcher Marion Beecher told the audience that farming requires over 120 skills that can be divided into six categories; business, people, animal, production, compliance, and machinery. 

Dairy farmers Brendan Joyce, from County Kilkenny, and John Whelan, from County Wexford, outlined how they attract and retain staff. Both farmers highlighted the importance of having good facilities, proper working procedures and technology as being key to running their farms efficiently, profitably and in an environmentally sustainable way.

In the afternoon, the conference featured a range of practical workshops where attendees met researchers, advisors and leading dairy farmers and discussed a range of issues such as: grazing and nitrogen strategies; future farm stocking rate decisions; nutrient management technologies; and the potential benefits of flexible milking schedules.

The papers and presentations from the Teagasc National Dairy Conference are available here