AUTUMN MANAGEMENT DECISIONS
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”.
NEW ENTRANT TO DAIRYING
Although David did not grow up on a dairy farm he had a keen interest in farming from a young age and was always more than happy to help out on nearby farms. In early 2018, David leased a block of land near Castleisland, Co. Kerry from Pat and Helen O’ Connor. Up to recently, Pat and Helen were milking and running a busy dairy farm, however, when the opportunity arose to lease out their land to a progressive young farmer, it made perfect sense, allowing them the opportunity to stay involved in farming without having the stress and responsibility of managing the business. The knowledge, experience, support and guidance provided by Pat & Helen has been invaluable to David in starting off his career in dairy farming.
David currently milks 48 cows and plans to expand to 60 cows. David graduated with a Degree in Agriculture from Cork Institute of Technology in 2015 and then went on to complete a Masters in Business & Agriculture. From there he spent 6 months working on a large dairy farm in New Zealand – gaining a lot of practical experience in calving cows, heat detection, grassland management and milking. David’s New Zealand experience has greatly influenced the simple system of farming he now operates.
For David, like many other farmers across the country, 2018 has been challenging with difficult weather conditions in the spring followed by a summer drought. However, calving and breeding went smooth on the farm with 86% expected to calve down in the first 6 weeks of calving in 2019.
David recognises the importance of learning from your peers and stated that “being involved in a local grass group makes decisions around feeding much easier”. There is a current growth rate of 51Kg DM/day on the farm with an average farm cover of 506Kg with 226Kg dry matter per livestock unit. David has completed a fodder budget and 90% of the silage required is currently in the yard .
“It was like being hit by a bus”
John Kerrisk, Kerry Agribusiness Sales Manager, recently spoke to Liam O’ Keeffe, a busy dairy farmer in Ballydesmond, Co. Cork, about a horrific bull attack he experienced on the family farm in the summer of 2007.
The day in question was a busy one for Liam as he had planned to make silage in the afternoon and had some machinery maintenance to get out-of-the-way beforehand as well as a few jobs around the yard. At about mid-morning, Liam was moving a bull from the holding yard when he experienced a blow from the bull that he described as “like being hit by a bus”.
The bull struck Liam a further four or five times with each blow inflicting devastating injuries. Liam managed to catch the chain and hit the bull, which caused the bull to step back momentarily, allowing Liam to run from the yard and seek shelter behind bales. Despite incurring serious injury, Liam managed to ring his neighbours who run a local shop and along with friends they came to his aid immediately. Liam had severe injuries to his pelvis, back bone and bowel resulting in an eight hour surgery on the day of the accident and many more surgeries over the past eleven years.
As Liam recalls the devastating impact the accident had on him physically and his family, he also reflects on the farm business, stating that “it is impossible to quantify the financial loss”. He was paying the Farm Relief to run the farm for a considerable period and at significant cost following the accident. Liam pointed out that “no insurance will cover the cost of running the business”.
Liam is delighted to be back farming every day notwithstanding the fact that he experiences ongoing pain and discomfort. He knows he was lucky to have had the support of his family, neighbours and friends and he cannot thank them enough for their support.
Liam wants farmers to reflect on the need for vigilance at all times with regard to farm safety and concluded by stating that “the reality is that someone reading this article may not be around for Christmas as a result of a farm accident”. Farm Safely – Stay Safe.
You can view a video of Liam and other farm accident survivor stories at www.embracefarm.com
Kerry Agribusiness would like to thank Liam for sharing his story.
Smarter Milking Event
John Lawlor recently hosted a Smarter Milking Event on his farm in Ballysheen, Abbeydorney, Co. Kerry. The Smarter Milking Event is a new initiative and was jointly hosted by Kerry Agribusiness, Farm Relief Services (FRS), Animal Health Ireland (AHI) and Teagasc. There was a large attendance on the day and the following is an overview of the key learnings:
Overview of achieving better cow flow and the importance of ease of movement of cows in accessing the milking parlour to reduce stress on the cow.
Reduction of overall energy costs on the farm. Calculating the energy costs of your farm in cents per litre of milk produced is a useful exercise to benchmark efficiencies against national averages. The average cost of electricity usage on Irish dairy farms is €5:00 per 1000 litres milk produced. There is a large variation in that figure – from €2:60 to €8:70 per 1000 litres produced.
Tips on maintaining and improving different aspects of milk quality such as TBC & Thermoduric count.
Practical tips on putting Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) in place to provide clear direction for employees and/or Farm Relief staff.
Advice on feeding in summer drought conditions and how to calculate winter fodder requirements.
FRS offer Milking courses regularly at various locations. Course content includes preparation for milking, milking routine, milk quality, washing up, mastitis prevention. Call 086 4634155. Pre booking essential. Discount available for Kerry Agribusiness customers.
Project Leche - Visit to Kerry Agribusiness Farms
In 2017, Kerry and the World Food Programme (WFP) announced a pioneering three year partnership known as Project Leche. Based in Honduras, the goal of Project Leche is to support the safe, sustainable inclusion of dairy products within the WFP’s school meals programme in Honduras.
Honduras has approximately the same number of dairy cows as Ireland (1.4 million) but produces only one seventh of the total Irish milk volume. Farmers there face some key challenges, for example only 25% of farms have electricity, which makes the on-farm cooling of milk extremely difficult.
Kerry Agribusiness recently hosted Honduran farmers involved in Project Leche, the group spent time visiting Kerry Agribusiness farms in a bid to learn more about how to produce safe and sustainable milk. The purpose of this visit was to show the project team best practice in milk production here in Ireland and to help Honduran farmers improve their own farm management.
Dairy Farm Walk Co. Clare
The Crotty family farm located in Kilbaha, Loop Head, Co. Clare, the most westerly dairy farm overlooking the Wild Atlantic Way recently hosted a farm walk. The Crotty’s were one of the finalists for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards in 2017 and David Gleeson one of the judges for the awards went through in detail both the milking routine and the washing routine employed on the farm and he emphasised the importance of the attention to detail shown around the dairy, parlour and the farm yard.
Terry O’Mahony (Teagasc) gave a detailed outline of the soil fertility progress on the farm. Soil samples have been taken from each paddock over the last three years and based on these results colour coded maps of the farm for pH, P and K have been produced. These are extremely useful when applying fertiliser and when developing a Nutrient Management Plan.
Martina Gormley went through how to develop a Dairy Fodder plan for winter 2018. Topics such as determining how much fodder is required and the importance of building up a reserve were discussed.
John Maher covered practical tips on mid-season grass management and he emphasised the relationship between grass digestibility and milk solids in the bulk tank.
Speakers from Munster Cattle Breeding Group gave tips on areas to focus on for the second half of the breeding season and also gave an overview of the new milk recording reports which are colour coded to help highlight the different category of performers in the herd in terms of milk production and SCC.
Health & Safety
Summer Safety Tips
Children should never travel alone to the farmyard.
When other children visit the farm - always explain the dangers.
Farm yards should be kept tidy and free from any hazards that may cause trips and falls.
Farmyards are not playgrounds - set up a suitable play area away from the yard.
Lead by example and show children how to prevent farm accidents.
Have a Farm Safety Action Plan and always have a first aid kit stocked and accessible.
Vigilance when using machinery.
BE SUN SMART
Reseeding Farm Walk
Adrian Keane a member of the Kerry Agribusiness Monitor Farm Programme recently hosted a Reseeding Demonstration on his farm in Kilflynn, Co. Kerry. There was a large attendance on the day for what was a very informative and practical session facilitated by Adrian and guest speakers: Nicky Byrne, Germinal, Pat Cashman, Goldcrop, Ger Courtney and Nora Donovan, Teagasc.
There was a strong focus on the roadways and infrastructure recently established on the newly leased block of land adjacent to the milking platform.
Adrian has sown Kerry Agribusiness Top Sward mixes aiming to produce high yielding, top quality swards. He places a large emphasis on maximising the amount of grazed grass in the diet and there was a lengthy discussion on grass management techniques.
Official Opening of the Kerry Agribusiness Ardfert Farm & Home Store
On Friday 20th April on a glorious spring morning, Kerry Agribusiness’s newly refurbished Ardfert Farm & Home Store was officially opened by Pat Murphy, General Manager, Kerry Agribusiness, along with Fr. Pat Crean-Lynch and Rev. Jim Stephens.
Following an investment of €1m, the store which has served farmers and other customers in the North Kerry area for many decades has been totally transformed and is now a bright modern store offering a wide range of products for all customers coupled with ample new car-parking facilities. The product range continues to expand in response to customer feedback and in addition to traditional farm inputs the new store now stocks garden, DIY and household products.
A huge crowd attended the Open Day and Pat Murphy, General Manager stated that “this investment demonstrates Kerry Agribusiness’s commitment to all our valued customers in the North Kerry Area and acknowledged the support of local farmers, and other customers who use the Ardfert Store.”
Grazing Management Competition
As part of Kerry Agribusiness’s ongoing activities to partner with our supplier base, we recently engaged secondary school students from across the Kerry catchment area in a Grazing Management Competition. Grazed grass is the cheapest feed for dairy cows and in order to maintain a profitable dairy sector each producer needs to maximise the amount of grazed grass in the diet of a dairy cow. Grass measurement and grass budgeting is the fundamental element to maintaining a high level of grazed grass in the dairy cow’s diet.
In this context, Kerry Agribusiness embraced the idea of promoting the adoption of best practice grass management techniques among the next generation of farmers through participation in a Grazing Management Competition. Milk suppliers in Kerry and Limerick facilitated on farm visits which provided the students with an excellent overview of grassland management techniques and training on grass measurement. The students were required to identify one or more paddocks in autumn 2017 and manage/monitor the paddock(s) over the winter period in preparation for spring 2018 grazing.
The competition concluded with a field trip to Teagasc, Moorepark (Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Research Centre) and Kerry’s Newmarket Cheese Factory. The Moorepark visit provided further validation of the importance of grass measurement and was an excellent opportunity for the students to get expert insight into the various grassland trials being undertaken at the National Research Centre.
The education process continued as the group proceeded to the Newmarket Cheese Factory where Bernard O’ Connor and his team facilitated a factory tour. This was a very exciting experience for the students as it was their first introduction to a commercial production site and was an excellent opportunity to see the production process through from milk in-take to finished product.
Pat Murphy, General Manager, Kerry Agribusiness congratulated all the participants and stated that “the enthusiasm shown by the students was commendable and that the overall standard of entries was very high”.
Farm Info Zone Events
Recent Farm Info Zone events proved very timely for farmers across the Kerry Agribusiness catchment area as the difficult weather conditions impacted on normal spring activity. Naturally, there was a lot of discussion on fodder difficulties but the availability of fodder sourced by Kerry Agribusiness was very welcome by all farmers.
Farmers who visited the Farm Info Zone events had the opportunity to get expert one-to-one advice on breeding and assistance with bull selection as the breeding season fast approaches. Managing the current challenging grazing conditions was also discussed and the importance of nutrition as cows enter peak milk production and breeding.
Managing Somatic Cell Count requires continued focus and the Kerry Agribusiness Milk Quality team were available to provide advice and discuss any current issues.
Grass experts were also present to discuss the new Top Sward mixes and the updated Pasture Profit Index. Reseeding paddocks on the dairy platform can bring huge financial benefits with late spring an ideal time for targeting poor performing swards.
Kerry Agribusiness sources vital Fodder Supplies
The very poor weather experienced in the South West of Ireland over the past few months is causing difficulties for many farmers in the Kerry catchment area. Grass growth has been poor up to now with ground conditions continuing to be very challenging, resulting in cattle being housed for much longer than anticipated. In this context, Kerry Agribusiness has put a comprehensive fodder sourcing plan in place and has sourced approximately 4000 bales (150 loads) of hay and silage from both Ireland and the UK in the past couple of weeks. This fodder was delivered to our Kerry Agribusiness branch network from Friday 6th April with farmers availing of the crucial fodder supplies.
If you are in need of fodder please contact your local branch or Kerry Agribusiness Sales/Quality representative who will complete a fodder budgeting plan and will endeavour to make fodder available to you as soon as possible. Kerry Agribusiness will continue to monitor the fodder situation and will communicate to all farmers when further loads of fodder are arriving at our network of branches.
LOCAL NATIONAL SCHOOL ENJOY VISIT TO MONITOR FARM
Paudie & Pauline O’ Brien, Firies, recently hosted a group of Junior and Senior Infant pupils from St. Josephs National School, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry. Paudie gave an excellent overview and practical examples of the workings of a busy dairy farm. Paudie also emphasized some of the main dangers of working on a dairy farm, especially for children, and highlighted the need for vigilance at all times. However, the highlight of the day for the pupils was the opportunity to feed some calves !
Pictures From Recent Advisory Committee Meetings
Calfcare Event At James and Michael Hickey's Farm
Kerry Agribusiness in conjunction with Animal Health Ireland and Teagasc recently hosted a Calfcare Event on the farm of James and Michael Hickey, Caherconlish, co. Limerick. The theme of this event was “Today’s Calves, Tomorrow’s Herd – How to maximise calf health for long term profitability”.
There was a large attendance on the day and the following topics were discussed in detail:
Labour Efficient Calf Management – how to feed calves in a well organised manner without compromising animal health.
Calf Housing – Good calf house design is critical for calf health and growth. Discussion on design and layout which should be considered when building or renovating a calf shed.
Disinfection Protocols for Calf Rearing – Implementation of best practice on disinfection protocols for equipment, personnel and calf accommodation.
Paddy Harvey on his experience with the Munster Herd Health Programme
Paddy Harvey and his wife Carmel are Kerry Agribusiness suppliers farming 61 hectares of land in Brisla, Cooraclare. Their holding includes a sizable plot of rented land adjacent to the home farm which has been an important factor in enabling considerable herd expansion over the last number of years.
Paddy and Carmel have further plans for expansion into 2018 with the introduction of 25 replacement heifers set to push cow numbers up from 93 last year to 110 in the coming season. The expansion in cow numbers has been well planned with housing and feeding infrastructure already in place to facilitate herd growth.
We recently asked Paddy to share his experience as a member of the Munster Herd Health Programme with us:
The Munster Herd Health Programme allows me to continuously monitor my herd health and performance. I have peace of mind in that I know my herd will perform for fertility, SCC and milk production.
It provides me with a very clear plan in terms of what I need to vaccinate against and dose for - I can see from my results that it is working.
This service is very convenient, I just made a phone call and signed up, since then my four bulk milk samples are automatically taken and analysed by Kerry Agribusiness. I receive the results after each test and if I need any clarification or help I can call the Munster Vet.
I find the end of year consultation with the vet invaluable, we review the previous year, go through any issues I had, my disease control, fluke & worm control, SCC, fertility, milk performance, BCS & energy balance of my cows. I leave the meeting with a plan for further improvement, confident that any changes or decision we agree are backed up by information and results from my farm.
I recommend this programme to all herd owners as it removed the guess work out of dosing and vaccination, reduced labour in managing issues and I am more in control of my overall performance.
Paddy Harvey, Cooraclare
Call Munster AI on 022 43228 to sign up for the Munster Herd Health Programme 2018.
Farm Info Zone Events
The December Farm Info Zone events were a great success with experts available at all events to discuss seasonal issues such as dry cow feeding, silage quality and soil fertility. However, the busy spring period is fast approaching and experts were available to discuss the fundamentals of successful calf rearing management which is so important to ensure availability of productive replacements on dairy farms.
Kerry Agribusiness “Grass Monitoring Group” visit Curtin's Farm Moorepark
Kerry Agribusiness in association with Teagasc is currently working with three PastureBase ‘Grass Monitoring Groups’ with members from counties Kerry, Limerick and Clare (15 per group; 45 in total). Pictured are the Kerry “Grass Monitoring Group” on a recent visit to Curtin’s Farm, Moorepark.
PastureBase Ireland (PBI) is a web-based grassland management application incorporating a dual function of grassland-decision support and a centralised national database to collate commercial farm grassland data. This facilitates the collection and storage of vast quantities of grassland data from grassland farmers. The database spans across ruminant grassland enterprises – dairy, beef and sheep. It helps farmers determine appropriate actions around grassland management at the paddock level. Individual farmers enter data through the completion of regular pasture cover estimations across the farm, allowing the performance of individual paddocks to be evaluated within and across years.
Grazing Management Competition
Kerry Agribusiness Grazing Management Competition participants from Kerry and Limerick recently attended a two-hour training session on the farm of William Dennehy, Currow, Co. Kerry and John Molyneaux, Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick. The students were given an overview of grassland management techniques and training on grass measurement. The students are required to identify one or more paddocks in Autumn 2017 and manage/monitor the paddock(s) over the winter period to ensure the paddock(s) can be grazed for a minimum of 4 days in February 2018. Entries will be judged on grass quantity, quality and the grazing management techniques used in spring 2018.
We would like to thank all the students for participating and wish them the best of luck!
Winner of Honda ATV Quad
Congratulations to Eamon Murphy, Milford, winner of a Honda ATV Quad courtesy of Chanelle. Pictured are Mike Myers, Chanelle Veterinary, Eamon Murphy, winning Milk Supplier, Mike Mulcahy & John O’Keeffe, Kerry Agribusiness, Milford and Howard Pearson, Area Sales Manager, Chanelle.
Kerry Agribusiness Engage with 4th Year ITT Students
Kerry Agribusiness are currently working on final year projects with two BSc Agricultural Science students at the Institute of Technology Tralee. Sean Hayes will be supported by the Kerry Agribusiness Quality Manager, James O’Connell, on a project investigating Thermoduric bacteria source and identification and Grainne Gilsenan will be supported by Kerry Agribusiness Animal Nutritionist, Stephen O’ Regan, on a project investigating silage quality on dairy farms and how it affects cow body condition score. Best of luck to students and mentors!
Kerry Agribusiness Finalists - NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards
Kerry Agribusiness would like to extend our congratulations to the Crotty family from Loop Head, Co. Clare and the Finn family from Dromina, Co. Cork on being selected as finalists in this year’s NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards is an annual national award programme that recognises standards of excellence in dairy farming. Farms nominated for the annual awards undergo a detailed assessment by an expert judging panel based on milk quality test results and technical reports spanning a full 12-month period.
Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme
Kerry reaches Sustainability Milestone with 100% Certification of Milk Suppliers
On Friday 29 September 2017, Kerry Agribusiness and our colleagues in Kerry Charleville welcomed the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, and Edmond Scanlon, Kerry Group Chief Executive, to mark the official announcement of the Group’s achievement of 100% certification of our milk suppliers under the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS).
A founder member of Origin Green, Kerry has become the first major milk processor to achieve complete certification under SDAS across its entire milk pool. Since the introduction of SDAS, we have been actively engaged with our milk suppliers to help guide them through the certification process and we would like to congratulate all our milk suppliers on the work done at farm level to ensure full compliance with SDAS and the achievement of 100% certification.
Having reached this milestone, our focus will now turn to supporting our milk suppliers in their continued drive to optimise efficiencies and achieve sustainable production.