Irish Grassland Association – Dairy Summer Tour

The Irish Grassland Association (IGA) Dairy Summer Tour takes place 25th July 2017 in Kilkenny & Carlow. The tour will be focused on ‘Producing milk on leased land’

Programme for the day:

8.15 am – Registration at Gowran Park Racecourse, Gowran, Co Kilkenny. Breakfast rolls & tea or coffee for everyone who arrives before 8.30am

9.00 am – Depart by bus to first farm

9.45 am – Arrive at first farm Opening address by: Bernard Ging, Irish Grassland Association President

12.00 pm – Depart by bus to Gowran Park

12.45 pm – Lunch at Gowran Park

2.00 pm – Depart by bus to second farm

2.15 pm – Arrive at second farm

4.00 pm – Close of Dairy Summer Tour

4.15 pm – Depart by bus to Gowran Park

4.30 pm – Complimentary tea and coffee at Gowran Park before departure home

Cathal and Grainne Moran farm 144 ha in Kilkenny. Less than half (57 ha) of the land they farm is owned. The milking platform comprises 120 hectares. Sixty three hectares of this is leased from three different land owners. The milking platform is serviced by over 2.5 km of farm roadway that Cathal has constructed to access the paddocks. Overall stocking rate this year is 2.5 LU/ha with the milking platform grazing 250 black and white dairy cows. In 2016, the cows yielded 450 kg milk solids per cow (4.30% fat; 3.67% protein) to produce over 1,200 kg milk solids per hectare. Calving interval that year was 371 days and the median calving date was 20th February. The past four years has been a period of rapid development on the Moran farm. In addition to extending the cow roadway by approximately 1.5 km, Cathal constructed a 30 unit milking parlour, a second lined lagoon, reseeded 50 ha and built 345 topless cubicles and slurry storage to accommodate his rapidly expanding herd. While improving soil pH and P&K indexes is on-going, the farm still grew an average of 14.6 tonnes dry matter per hectare in 2016. ‘Expanding the farm through long term leasing was the best option open to me. I treat the land I lease as if it was my own. Building a good working relationship with the landowners and thinking of their needs as well as my own requirements are all important when you’re producing milk on leased land’, said Cathal.

Jamie and Lorraine Kealy farm 50 ha in Carlow. The milking platform, which is located 10km from the family home is fully leased and comprises 37 ha of rolling, free draining land at Slaneyquarter, Grange, Tullow, Co. Carlow. The entire milking platform is leased long-term as are the milking facilities and winter accommodation. Overall stocking rate is 2.4 LU/ha with the milking platform stocked at 2.5 cows/ha. Coming from a building background, Jamie bought 13 ha of land in three sections and was involved in beef production before he started in milk production four seasons ago. Originally leasing 25 ha of the platform and the milking and wintering facilities, a further 12 ha of land has since been leased from a second landowner allowing him to increase the size of the milking herd from an initial 64 cows. Calving interval last spring was 362 days with 87% of the herd calved in the first 6-weeks and a median calving date of February 12th. In 2016, the 91-strong dairy herd produced 525 kg per cow (4.47% fat; 3.70% protein) with almost 1,300 kg milk solids produced per hectare on the milking platform. Achieving a long lactation is underpinned by compact calving and most of the herd is milked through to the end of November. Only first calvers and thin cows are dried off the end of October. The high quality cubicle housing on the farm facilitates indoor milking into late autumn. The leased farm was well managed over the years and mostly index 3 for P&K when Jamie started in dairying. According to Jamie, ‘‘Without the opportunity to take on this long term lease, we wouldn’t have been able to start dairy farming. Last year the farm grew 14 tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare with minimal reseeding done since I started to farm there. Our plans for this year are to increase the number of cows milked slightly to 105 cows. We think that the farm can sustain the higher stocking rate without having to overfeed the cows”.

Click here for more information on the event.