Profitable and sustainable milk expansion while sustaining herd health is the focus of the three-year Dairygold Co-op/Teagasc farm development programme launched this week.
Objectives include all 3,000 milk suppliers signing up to the sustainable dairy assurance scheme by end 2015, along with improvements in soil fertility, grass utilisation, EBI, milk protein, financial management, and milk quality scorecards.
Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe said: “We also recognise that our suppliers are at various different stages of development and we have designed the programme to demonstrate a variety of expansion scenarios. I would encourage every Dairygold supplier to participate in this programme, which is focused on delivering real benefits.”
The programme will include discussion groups, workshops and special interest events, demonstration, focus farms, and communications. Active farmer discussion groups will be increased from 65 to 70. Workshops and events aimed at those currently not members of discussion groups will also be held.
Four demonstration farms will be used to show the expansion challenges across a variety of farm types, while six focus farms will be used to demonstrate technical aspects of efficient milk production.
Demonstration farms will include a family farm with 60 cows going up to 90; a new entrant with up to 90 cows; a family farm going from 100 to 150 cows; and a large herd operation with a new entrant collaboration model. The focus farms will demonstrate best practice in grass growth and utilisation, replacement heifer performance, breeding performance, cash flow, and farm performance.
The programme includes newsletters, dedicated website, public events, and supplier conferences.
Launching the programme on the farm of Dairygold milk supplier Oliver Looney in Mallow, Co Cork, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said: “Dairygold’s suppliers have forecast increasing milk production by some 57% between 2011 and 2020. The co-op has now put in place a well-resourced farm assistance programme to help ensure that Dairygold suppliers will be able to realise their expansion goals in a profitable and sustainable manner, and I commend them for that.”
Funding of €1m has been allocated to the programme.
Teagasc director Gerry Boyle said: “Uniformity and consistency of advice is critical, poorly aligned and confusing messages slow down practice adoption by farmers. By working together, we can harness the strengths of both Teagasc and Dairygold to help ensure that all Dairygold suppliers benefit from future opportunities.”
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