ASA Dairy Nutrition Master Class Series

ASA Dairy Nutrition Master Class Series

Please Note: All 3 workshops are now Full.


Click Here Day 1: Speaker Presentations (Members must login to view)

Click Here Day 2: Speaker Presentations (Members must login to view)

Dairy Masterclass Research

At the second, in a sold out series of three ASA Dairy Masterclasses held in UCD Lyons Estate, Professor Liam Sinclair of Harper Adams University presented a paper ‘Reducing the reliance on purchase protein’. Here ASA Member, Peter Bolger summarises the key points.

Increasing world population and increasing demand on dairy products with a more affluent society will continue to push the price of traditional sources of proteins such as soya forward. As the price of all protein sources track soya there is little scope to save by switching source to rape, sunflower or distiller. However, growing a high protein forage such as Lucerne can yield significant savings over purchased protein and brings the added benefit of increased kg’s of dry matter from forage to dairy farmers.

Little is known in Ireland about Lucerne. It was always considered a dry country crop but now with big bale wrapped silage the norm, it is a crop that is simple to save, store and feed.

Nutritive value – DM, g/kg 300-500, crude protein 190, fibre: NDF – 440, ADF – 350, lignin – 50, ME (MJ/kg DM) – 8.5 to 10.0 and calcium 14.

The fibre contains a high amount of indigestible fibre, however the fibre that is available is digested rapidly.

Lucerne or Alfalfa is one of the largest grown crops in the world and has a number of attractions such as nitrogen fixation, as it is a legume, long tap root (drought resistant), high protein (18 to 22%) and its functional fibre content eliminates the need for straw in the diet.


Spring time is the best time to establish the crop. A seeding rate of 20 – 25kg/ha at 1cm deep in 10 to 12 cm rows is recommended. Soil pH is important and should be above 6.5. The crop requires no N once established, apart from 25kg N/ha at sowing. P and K requirements are higher than grass.

The crop is cut at late bud/early bloom. Care is needed here as the blooms are down in the crop and can be difficult to see unless you walk the crop regularly. Spread the cut sward over the entire surface of the field then row up early in the morning and bale. Always use a suitable additive as it has low sugars and has a high buffering capacity. It is important not to chop too short as you will lose the functional fibre effect.

Studies show that the inclusion of Lucerne where grass silage is the sole forage will increases overall dry matter intake from forages and also increase milk yield.

In conclusion Lucerne is a high protein forage that can be successfully grown in Ireland. It produces approximately 10 tonne of DM per hectare and can be grown in the same field for 5 years. It will reduce the overall cost of your diet and can replace some of your bought protein concentrates. It is a useful second forage even at low inclusion rates (2kg DM/hd/day).


Photos from Day 1:

About the Master Class
Three intense one day workshops with leading researchers from Ireland, UK and US identifying the latest science and applications to ensure optimal dairy herd performance.

Who should attend
Any agri professional wishing to up skill on best practise in dairy nutrition and husbandry. This masterclass is aimed at individuals working at a technical level, on farm. The class is also aimed at up skilling those with an Ag. Science Degree. A firm emphasis will be placed on recent research and its practical application.

Day 1:
Wednesday, 14th October 2015, 9:30 – 16:30

UCD Lyons Estate

9.30 : Registration and coffee

10.00 – 10.50: Reassessing the value of forage maize as a buffer feed with Dr. Bridget Lynch

10.50 – 11.30: Feeding the dairy cow over the winter – from dry cows to winter milk with Dr. Karina Pierce

11.30 – 11.45: Coffee break

11.45 – 12.30: Principles of feeding and the management of suckler cows and beef cattle over the winter with Dr. Alan Kelly

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

13.30 – 14.10: What role has nutrition to play in reducing the environmental impact of ruminant production systems? with Dr. Tommy Boland

14.10 – 15.00: The role of energy balance in transition and early lactation cow health with Dr. Finbar Mulligan

15.00 – 16.30: Practical: Body condition score practical with Dr. Finbar Mulligan and Dr. Karina Pierce


Photos from Day 2: 

Day 2:

Wednesday 18th November 2015, 9:30 – 16:30

UCD Lyons Estate

Facilitator: Prof. Liam Sinclair
9.15 :
                      Registration and Coffee

10.00 – 10.50:         Recommended and actual levels of minerals for dairy cows
Copper metabolism in dairy cows
Interactions between copper, forage and other minerals: effects on health and performance

11.00 – 12.00:         Phosphorus feeding levels, health and fertility
Cobalt and Vit B12 in transition diets
Chelated minerals and zinc

12.00 – 13.00:         To be confirmed

13.00 – 14.00:         Lunch

14.00 – 15.00:         Low protein diets: how low can you go?
Effects of low protein diets on performance, health and fertility

15.00 – 15:50:         Home grown protein sources: effects on performance and diet cost when replacing soyabean meal
Means to improve the quality of protein in home grown sources

16.05 – 16:30           Farm walk and overview of on-going research projects at HAU including grazing high yielding cows, functional fibre for dairy cows, methane mitigation strategies.

Prof. Liam Sinclair, Professor of Animal Science, Harper Adams University


Day 3: Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 9:30 – 16:30
Location: TBC

Topics to be discussed to include:

  • Calf & heifer rearing
  • Particle: Size and physical structure in dairy cow nutrition

Facilitators: Prof. Jud Heinrichs, Professor of Dairy Science, Penn State University

Cost: €60 per session or €150 for all 3 (Members)
€80 per session or €200 for all 3 (Non-Members)