Investing in dairies future

By Dairy News

The University of Dublin’s Lyons Farm, at Naas in County Kildare, hosted visiting farmers and journalists, including Dairy News reporter Mark Daniel, during his September visit to the Republic of Ireland.

VISITORS TO the University of Dublin’s 235 ha farm noted its focus on dairying: a €2 million dairy research and education faculty sponsored by seven leading industry names such as Dairymaster, Glanbia, The Irish Holstein Association and Progressive Genetics.

Hosted by Associate Professor Karina Pierce, farmers and journalists from Europe and beyond learned the farm has 200 cows in two groups, the first a 60-cow herd of high EBI spring calving cows managed on high input/output, and the second a mob of 140 head split between 80 spring and 60 autumn calvers managed in a grass-focused regime.

The farm’s extensive buildings centre on a 40-bail rotary milking plant, configured with four feed lines for trials work, with specialised handling and observation areas for students and visitors.

The farm is focused on understanding current and developing new systems of milk production since the European Union quota removal.

It recognises that grass-based milk production dominates in Ireland, so is concerned with such challenges as restricted and fragmented land areas that inhibit expansion, labour use, the environment, profitability and the cost of expansion and sustainability.

The main herd has a stocking rate of 3.4/ha over the milking platform, average milk solids output of 625 kg/cow and a six-week in-calf rate of 75 per cent, on a diet of 75 per cent grazed grass and grass silage.

For the 2017 season, grass growth amounted to 14 000 kg/ha and silage on the milking platform at 2000 kg/ha, with nitrogen (N) use of 260 kg/ha, phosphorous (P) at 8.6 kg/ha and potassium (K) at 44 kg/ha.

The average lactation was 305 days, with a physical yield of 7548 litres and an overall production average of 2023 kg milk solids/ha over the milking platform.

Reproductive performance data showed a 96 per cent submission rate, a first-service conception rate of 69 per cent and a six-week pregnancy rate of 84 per cent (2018).

Gross margins were €7045/ha, €2894/cow and a milk price of 38.25¢/litre. Total costs were €3994/ha, €1641/cow and 21.68¢/litre, achieving a net margin of €3051, €1253 and 16.56¢/litre, respectively.