Exports of Irish dairy products and ingredients have risen to over €4bn in 2018, having averaged €1.84bn from 2007 to 2009, thousands of farmers heard at Teagasc Dairy Open Day, at Moorepark, in Fermoy, Co Cork.
The huge attendance heard Irish milk production increased to 7.57bn litres in 2018 and looks set to reach 8bn litres this year, as output continues to grow since the abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015.
As well as discussing the theme of ‘The Challenges and Opportunities of Continued Expansion’, the open day featured a series of talks, displays and the launch of a Dairy Farm Infrastructure Workbook, produced by Teagasc and Ulster Bank.
The workbook will help farmers to plan improvements in the areas of grazing infrastructure, milking practices and energy use.
One of the workbook’s authors, John Upton of Teagasc, said: “Farmers need to carefully monitor and control energy use.
Pat Tuohy from Teagasc, Moorepark, co-author of the workbook, said: “A well-designed, carefully built and properly maintained farm roadway system has many benefits, including, less lameness, less mastitis and better general animal health, faster and easier stock movement, cleaner cows and milk, less roadway maintenance and more efficient paddock access.”
Teagasc director Gerry Boyle warned dairy farmers that the dairy industry is facing a number of challenges, namely climate change, water quality, remaining competitive, access to markets, and availability of skilled labour.
“The challenge is to grow the business sustainably,” said Mr Boyle.
Liam Herlihy, chair of Teagasc said: “The knowledge available in Moorepark will help dairy farmers to inform themselves of the latest technologies to take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges they face.”
Meanwhile, Teagasc also updated the gathering on its food research programme, which supports food companies to innovate and develop new products.
Teagasc artisan food specialist Eddie O’Neill, who is based in Teagasc Moorepark, highlighted the opportunities for startups, or existing food companies, to avail of the expertise and facilities in Teagasc.