Lakeland Dairies and Teagasc have expressed delight at the outcomes being achieved from the Lakeland/Teagasc Joint Research Programme, a new Phase Three of which has been launched today. Building on the ongoing success of the initiative over the past six years, the joint programme is aimed at maximising efficiency and profitability for dairy farmers on a sustainable basis for the future.
The renewed programme was launched on the farm of Mairead and Pat McLoughlin of Birr, Co. Offaly, who are suppliers to Lakeland Dairies. The McLoughlins were recently identified as ‘Champions of Sustainability’ having won the overall Small/Medium Herd Category of the Bord Bia Origin Green Farmer Awards. They are currently milking 64 cows and are new entrants to dairying since 2014.
The Lakeland / Teagasc Joint Programme uses the findings of locally based research that is relevant to the needs of Lakeland milk suppliers. It includes technical advice on grassland management, improving milk solids, dairy herd fertility, farm management and sustainable expansion, among other important areas.
The joint programme was first established in 2013 with a dedicated team of dairy specialists to work with Lakeland milk suppliers in an advisory capacity. The advisors also provide a planning and technical service to potential new entrants to milk production.
To date, the advisory team have delivered over 150 workshops, farm walks and seminars at local and regional level, including a large scale national open day and land and labour management workshops. Advisors have carried out over 2,700 farm visits. A monthly technical bulletin has also been developed focussing on issues affecting farms on a month to month basis each year.
Compared to Lakeland averages in 2012, when the Lakeland Teagasc Programme started, participating Lakeland farmers have achieved as follows:
- There has been a 16% increase in Milk Solids / Cow
- Milk protein % has increased from 3.28% to 3.37%
- Calving Intervals have reduced by 12 days
- The 6 week calving rate has improved by 20%
- Milk Output has also increased by 50% during this period
Phase 3 of the Joint Programme is now underway. In addition to all existing aspects of the current programme, the additional focus for the next three years will be on:
Antimicrobial Resistance / Animal Health including the promotion of Milk Recording which Lakeland says has a huge role in raw milk quality and the increase of efficiency on farms. Currently 38% of Lakeland milk suppliers are milk recording but nearly 70% have the necessary equipment to allow for milk recording. The programme will recruit a number of demonstration farms and research findings will be used to inform all Lakeland milk suppliers. Lakeland Dairies also participate in the Johnes Disease Control Programme with AHI which will become a focus of the Joint Programme
Farm Labour Efficiency and Management - As dairy farms continue to grow their milk production, farmers are increasingly seeing the need to recruit employees onto the farm and this requires a structured process to ensure that it works out successfully both for the farmer as employer and for the new recruit as an employee. Lakeland has already run workshops on this subject. The Joint Programme will use pilot farms to explore the benefits of high labour efficiency across a range of farm systems.
Breeding & Genetics will continue to be a prominent part of the Joint Programme. There will also be an environmental sustainability link with other programmes run by Lakeland Dairies incorporating Water Quality, Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability.
In addition to workshops, farm walks and information, the advisory team also provides a one-to-one service to milk suppliers. The focus here again is on improving milk solids, maximising production from home grown forage, tackling cow infertility and improving grassland management.
Lakeland Dairies’ Chairman, Alo Duffy said,
The Lakeland Dairies / Teagasc Joint Research Programme is a deeply valuable and important initiative. Based on findings from experience on our milk supplying dairy farms, the knowledge that is being developed and the information and advice that we are able to share is excellent.
Anything that improves competitiveness and market returns for dairy farmers is welcome. We are also very grateful to Teagasc for their excellent commitment to the Lakeland programme. We look forward to the achievement of further progress as we continue to advise and support Lakeland dairy farmers.