Focus On Profit Programme
“We will empower our client farmers with up-to-date technical advice, financial expertise to set and achieve financial goals, provide a blueprint for profitable and environmentally sustainable farming and ensure an enhanced quality of life”
The joint Kerry Agribusiness/ Teagasc “Focus on Profit” Programme focuses on improving the technical and financial performance of dairy farms in the Kerry Agribusiness catchment area. Consistent with the mission statement, the programme aims to provide Kerry Agribusiness milk suppliers with tools to increase farm profit by focusing on sustainable improvements in farm productivity.
The Kerry Agribusiness/Teagasc “Focus on Profit” Programme is structured as follows:
Monitor Farm Programme comprising 10 Monitor Farms and 5 Heavy Soils Farms.
Discussion Group Programme with 40 Discussion Groups.
Monitoring of grass growth across the Kerry Agribusiness catchment.
Targeted campaigns on grazing management, soil fertility, milk quality and farm systems.
Farm Info-Zone events to enhance programme participation among all suppliers.
All Kerry Agribusiness milk suppliers can participate in a range of meetings, farm walks and workshops throughout the catchment.
Autumn Management Decisions - Mark Clune
Mark Clune farms near Feakle, Co. Clare and has been a Monitor farmer in the Kerry Agribusiness/Teagasc Programme for the past three years. The focus on the Clune farm has been on improving soil fertility, herd improvement and focusing on better labour efficiency. Mark also measures grass on a weekly basis through the Pasturebase system and now feels more confident about making decisions based on the measurements.
Grass Cover on October 28th was 600kgs/ha with 70% of the farm closed for next Springs grazing. Current stocking rate on the milking platform of 26.7 ha is 2.8 Lu/Ha.
Mark hopes to graze out the last 30% in the next two weeks - because a lot of second cut ground was grazed in the July period and more silage than usual was harvested off the milking block in September. This had an impact on the amount of grass that Mark was able to build up this Autumn. On the plus side Mark says, “it has been a tremendous back end for his mixed farm and ground conditions are in great shape heading into the winter”. Cows are block grazed night & day and utilisation is excellent as pre-grazing covers are low at 1300 kgs. /ha.
This autumn Mark spread 70 tonnes of lime and hopes to get more lime out in the coming weeks. Mark has pushed on with increased usage of 18:6:12 and can see an increased response in growth and recovery. All paddocks will be soil sampled again shortly to monitor progress.
Current milk production on Marks farm is 16 litres/cow /day @ 4.54% Butterfat and 4.20% Protein. Supplementation is currently 4kgs/cow/day with the need to recover silage reserves in late third cuts pushing him over 1 tonne concentrate fed per cow this year.
Mark milked 84 cows in 2018 and dried off 9 cows in the past week with 4 culls sent to factory. Though milking well - his plan is to dry off the first calvers next week (1st week Nov). Mark says, “looking after those first calvers for next year is more important than milk produced at the expense of body condition on a silage-based diet”. All cows will be dried off by December 10th. Mark feels this is vital to ensure all are fresh for a busy spring that comes around very quickly again.
Mark has started milking an hour earlier in the evening and finds that he is more focused on getting the main chores completed earlier each day so that milking can start earlier. Mark will also be working on some other labour tips for spring 2019 such as pumping milk to the calf feeding area.
Mark says, “good grazing conditions in October has resulted in a saving of at least one month’s silage/cow and overall silage reserves have recovered well”. Mark will not introduce silage feeding by night until at least next week (1st week Nov).
Mark signed up for the recent Kerry Agribusiness Forward Milk Price Scheme for 2019. Mark feels “it gives him more control of his business by taking actions that reduce the risk associated with milk price volatility”.