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Kerry Agribusiness & Teagasc Celebrate 25 Years of Joint Programme Success

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Kerry Agribusiness and Teagasc celebrate 25 years of working collaboratively on the Joint Programme which commenced in 1994 and was an innovative concept of peer-led learning and knowledge transfer. This was the first such programme in Ireland and formed the foundation of sustainable dairy production within the Kerry Agribusiness milk supplier base. (Download 25 year anniversary booklet).

Over the 25 year period, the Joint Programme was implemented across counties Kerry, North Cork, Limerick and Clare.  To-date, 76 Monitor farmers and their families have participated in the Joint Programme.  Kerry Agribusiness and Teagasc wish to acknowledge their generosity and commitment to enhancing prospects for dairy farmers generally in the Kerry catchment.

Key to the success of the Programme has been farmers, industry, advisory and research, all working together, to achieve progress on milk composition, herd genetics, nutrient and grazing management coupled with improvements in animal welfare and environmental management on farm. Local demonstration of these practices has ensured widespread adoption throughout the Kerry catchment area. 

Improvement in the milk composition of the Monitor Farms over the 25 years equates to an additional 5.5c/litre or €16,500 per annum for a supplier delivering 300,000 litres. The extended grazing and improvement in dairy EBI equates to a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The substantial increase in the average EBI on Monitor Farms is equivalent to €350/cow additional profit.

The Programme supported suppliers to profitably avail of opportunities that arose following the abolition of the EU milk quota system in 2015, highlighting the importance of cost effective expansion in milk production.

Commenting on the Kerry Agribusiness/Teagasc Joint Programme, Pat Murphy, Head of Kerry Agribusiness stated that “tremendous progress had been made by the participating Monitor Farmers and by all dairy farmers in the Kerry Catchment Area over the past 25 years. The focus on increasing milk solids, extending the grazing season and utilising as much grass as possible, herd health and sustainable expansion had made dairy farming much more profitable and environmentally compliant in recent years. He stated that dairy sustainability would need much focus in the coming years and that the Joint Programme would facilitate this”.

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Speaking in Tralee, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle thanked the farmers and their families who participated in  the Joint Programme over the years, and the staff from both  Kerry Agribusiness and Teagasc who provided the leadership and technical knowledge which has made it such a success. He said that this same level of ‘teamwork’ will be needed to meet the challenges facing dairy farmers in the future.  

Adrian Keane - Grass Walk March 2019

  • Slurry has been applied early on some paddocks with the target to follow cows now

    with slurry through low emission application

  • 60% of the herd has calved to date

  • 50% of the milking platform grazed to date for the first round

  • Silage added back into the diet during poor weather conditions resulted in poor graze outs

    as cows went back to grass

  • Priority now is to get the heavy cover of 1850 KGs/DM on a paddock reseeded last year, grazed off over the coming days as weather conditions allow

  • 20 maiden heifers have also been left out on the milking block to get through heavy covers

    and increase the stocking rate

  • Planning to take 10 acres out for silage on the milking block and follow again with 40 units

    of N/acre to encourage a quick regrowth for the second rotation

  • Average farm cover is 1033 kg’s/DM with demand at 12 kg/DM grass and 3 kg of concentrates. No silage in the diet since the weekend.

Focus for grazing this week on all farms across the region

  •  Complete a farm cover/grass walk and decisions in relation to grazing need to be made in the paddock

    and not in the yard.

  •  Weather conditions are set to improve so target to get further UREA out at a rate of 40 units/N/acre in

    the next few days.

  •  Focus on using your local contractor for fertiliser application and get the milking block spread quickly.

  • Demand from grass will start to peak now as the cows intake naturally increases after calving while milk

    production starts to increase.

  •  There is a large supply of grass still available for grazing on farms so the target now again as weather

    improves should be to reduce silage/meal intakes as weather conditions improve and get cows back out

    to grass to get through the first rotation.

  •   It is critically important that this week you monitor regrowth’s on the farm as this has a major impact as

    to when you can start your second rotation.

  •  The target is the graze paddocks at a cover of around 1200 kg’s/DM at the start of the second rotation.

  •  Consider letting weanlings out to graze the milking block if there is a needs be to hit your

    second rotation in April.

  •   Fertiliser applications for silage will need to be applied over the next few weeks so it is important to

    know your fertiliser allowances for silage ground and its recommended recap on you 2019 fertiliser plan



Learnings from the Kerry Agribusiness Herd Health Seminars


The central theme of the recent Kerry Agribusiness Herd Health Seminars facilitated by Dr Doreen Corridan, Munster Cattle Breeding and James O’ Connell, Kerry Agribusiness was ‘Do the Simple Things Extraordinarily Well’ when it comes to calf health this spring.

Springtime is an extremely busy period on dairy-farms with farmers doing their utmost to ensure their new-born calves get the best possible start in life. Key messages from the seminars were:

  1. Colostrum Fed from First Milking.

  2. Fed within 2 hours of birth.

  3. Calf fed three litres.

• Do not feed bacteria laden colostrum.

• If storing colostrum – it must be kept refrigerated and frozen if stored for greater than 24 hours.

• Colostrum from the first milking is nutritionally superior to subsequent transitional milk.

• Measure colostrum quality with a refractometer to assess IgG content.

• Provide water and calf ration from day 1 to ensure adequate rumen develo-pment prior to weaning.

• Ensure the calf house is well ventilated and draft free.

Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards

Back row: Minister Creed pictured with Conor, John and Mary MacNamara, Padraig Fitzgerald Teagasc and Ger Courtney Teagasc. Front row: Padraic and Ailbhe MacNamara

Back row: Minister Creed pictured with Conor, John and Mary MacNamara, Padraig Fitzgerald Teagasc and Ger Courtney Teagasc. Front row: Padraic and Ailbhe MacNamara

Congratulations to John and Olivia MacNamara, Knockainey, Co. Limerick, overall winner of the 2018 Grassland Farmer of the Year Award. The Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and is an initiative to support Sustainable farming from Grassland.

The Grassland Farmer of the Year awards are part of the Teagasc Grass10 campaign and recognises and rewards those farmers who are achieving high levels of grass utilisation in a sustainable manner.

Grass gives us our comparative advantage in ruminant based production systems and Kerry Agribusiness milk suppliers featured prominently among the winners:

• Young Grassland Farmer of the Year – Niall Moloney, Crecora, Co Limerick

• Heavy Soils/Disadvantaged land - Danny Bermingham, Doonbeg, Co Clare

• Dairy Enterprise Award – John MacNamara, Knockainey, Co Limerick

• Most improved grassland – John Leahy, Athea, Co. Limerick

Padraig Fitzgerald Teagasc, Joe Kelleher Teagasc, Niall Moloney, Minister Creed and Jerry Moloney.

Padraig Fitzgerald Teagasc, Joe Kelleher Teagasc, Niall Moloney, Minister Creed and Jerry Moloney.

John Leahy, James O’ Loughlin Teagasc, Danny Bermingham, Pat Tuohy Teagasc and Ger Courtney Teagasc.

John Leahy, James O’ Loughlin Teagasc, Danny Bermingham, Pat Tuohy Teagasc and Ger Courtney Teagasc.


Pat Murphy, General Manager, pictured with Kerry Agribusiness Milk Suppliers receiving their QQI Certificates on completion of the inaugural Labour Management Course at a function held in the Charleville Park Hotel recently.

Pat Murphy, General Manager, pictured with Kerry Agribusiness Milk Suppliers receiving their QQI Certificates on completion of the inaugural Labour Management Course at a function held in the Charleville Park Hotel recently.

Kerry Agribusiness Labour Focus Group pictured meeting on the farm of Robert & Mary Troy, Newtownshandrum reviewing labour saving techniques implemented on the farm in 2018 and planning for Spring 2019 following participation in a Labour Management Course.

Kerry Agribusiness Labour Focus Group pictured meeting on the farm of Robert & Mary Troy, Newtownshandrum reviewing labour saving techniques implemented on the farm in 2018 and planning for Spring 2019 following participation in a Labour Management Course.

Congratulations to the inaugural Labour Management Course participants who were recently presented with their QQI Certificates at a function in the Charleville Park Hotel. The Labour Management Course focused on the following:

  • Taking the stress out of managing your workload.

  • Allowed participants to learn from the experiences of others.

  • Provided update on relevant Employment Law.

  • Provided tips to enhance participants people management skills.

New Entrant




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 .

Farm Safety


“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

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.


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.”


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 !


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.

Link to PDF here

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.

Link to PDF here

Disinfection Protocols for Calf Rearing – Implementation of best practice on disinfection protocols for equipment, personnel and calf accommodation.

Link to PDF here

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.

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.

Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme

Kerry reaches Sustainability Milestone with 100% Certification of Milk Suppliers

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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.