Course gets to grips with best milking practice

Funding for a new milking skills training course has been announced by the Department of Agriculture.
Course gets to grips with best milking practice

The course will be delivered over two days, followed by a half-day follow-up, during which course participants will be individually assessed.

The department will part-fund the cost of attending the course for the first 400 farmers registered.

Training will combine theory and practical, with an emphasis on the practical elements of milking.

The course will be offered nationwide, and is set to start in for July at the following locations (subject to farmer demand): Roscrea, Fermoy, Kilkenny, Limerick, Ballyjamesduff, Cashel, Clonakilty, Sligo, Castleisland, Trim, and Kilmacthomas. Further locations will be announced later.

FETAC/QQI Level 6 Certificates will be presented to those who successfully complete this best practice in milking programme.

The course has been developed by Teagasc, FRS Network (Farm Relief Services), and AHI (Animal Health Ireland), part subsidised by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

It is designed to develop milker skills to ensure that all cows are milked effectively and efficiently, and to reduce preventable waste by producing milk with lower somatic cell counts (SCC) and better quality.

Dairy farmers with an 80-cow herd could be losing up to €560 per week because of high SCC, and this course, for a fraction of the cost, has been developed to improve milking practices to help alleviate these and other inefficiencies affecting farmers’ pockets and herd health.

A customised DVD aids course delivery and can be used as a reference guide. Course tutors have been specifically trained and course content approved by the experts in the area of milking best practice.

Courses are open to all levels of milking experience, from new entrants and people interested in relief milking to experienced dairy farmers. The cost of is €250 to each participant, and advanced booking is advised as funding is limited and is on a first-come first-served basis.

Tom O’Dwyer, the head of dairy knowledge transfer with Teagasc, said: “With the expected increase in cow numbers and milk output, there is a requirement to train more milkers, as well as upskilling current milkers.

“A skills-based course relating to milking skills has been sought by a number of representative bodies and Teagasc is delighted to have worked with FRS and AHI in the development of this new course. A number of our advisers have been trained to deliver course material and I look forward to the nationwide roll-out of the course over the coming months.”

Mike Magan, chairman of the CellCheck Industry Implementation Group and chairman of AHI, said a 10% reduction in national SCC levels would be worth an additional €37.6m to Irish farmers and the dairy industry.

Peter Byrne, CEO of FRS Network, said: “FRS have been providing milking training to FRS relief milkers and farmers for almost 35 years, but we wanted to standardise the course to improve the consistency of its delivery, and also give a certification of achievement to participants that recognises the hard work they have put in and the learning value that they have received. FRS milking operators will also be attending the courses in order to maintain our high service standards.”

Courses can be booked online at or by calling 1890-201000.

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