Spotlight on Teagasc dairy farm expansion management challenges

Up to 2,000 dairy farmers will gain invaluable insights on the key management challenges with expansion at a Teagasc walk on Greenhills Farm, the farm of Tom and Simon Browne at Knocknagappagh, Killeagh, Co Cork, from 10am to 3pm this Thursday.
Spotlight on Teagasc dairy farm expansion management challenges

With 1,400 farmers having already signed up, and with more last minute bookings likely, the local authorities have set up a one-way access system and ample parking for the nationwide traffic flow heading towards the east Cork farm.

The Brownes milk 820 cows, and they have around 300 replacement heifers and 300 heifer calves.

“Tom and Simon Browne have doubled the size of their herd since 2007,” said Gerard MacMahon, regional manager of Teagasc Cork East.

“We want people to see their facilities, their management structures and how they manage their labour on the farm.

“When you have a high stocking rate, you also need to have good risk management in place, and the Brownes have facilities in place to house their cows indoors in cases of a lengthy drought.”

Tom and Simon Browne also examine their cows’ health every day, whether they are milking or not — which is critical when you are talking about such large numbers. And they have technology to share that information between workers.

“If you were in the university hospital and a new batch of nurses comes on at a change of shift. It’s the same concept of communication on this farm,” added Gerard MacMahon.

“They also have great grassland, with very little weeds. The herd can be brought from wintering accommodation into the milking parlour without going back outside at all. Tom Browne has this farm totally in control. Many people working on this scale are so well in control of the business.”

The Brownes bring in an external AI company to manage heat detection, breeding and drafting. Visitors will also be keen to learn about the farm’s labour management system.

The day’s events will start with a farm walk, covering labour efficiency, stocking, breeding, grassland, facilities and financial budgeting and risk management.

At 1.30pm, Gerard MacMahon will chair a forum that will include Tom Browne; Jim Woulfe, Dairygold; Pat Dillon, Teagasc; Tadgh Buckley, AIB; and Barry Murphy, FDC.

Tom Browne said that dairy farmers may also be interested in seeing the farm’s wintering facilities, and some innovations like the automatic foot bathing facility and the well proven milking machine.

Booking is essential. To book, call 022-21936, or visit www.teagasc.ie/events. The Teagasc website also has a small brochure giving an overview of the day.

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