Workshops On Dairy Expansion – 22 May 2014
Workshops On Dairy Expansion
Thursday 22 May – Stamullen, Co Meath
Thursday 29 May – Golden Co Tipperary
Both from 11am to 4pm
The ASA, in conjunction with Teagasc, ran two workshops on dairy expansion.
• Thursday 22 May – farm of Joe Leonard, Stamullen, Co Meath.
• Thursday 29 May – farm of Denis and Eddie O’Donnell, Golden, Co Tipperary.
This was an opportunity for members to get updated on the key issues surrounding expansion of dairy herds, hear the stories of farmers with ambitious expansion plans and benefit from the expertise of leading Teagasc advisers and specialists.
Both events kindly sponsored by Bank of Ireland
Three workshops and breakout sessions as follows:
Workshop 1 – ‘Business and Investment Appraisal’:- Calculating the return on capital and equity invested in the expansion proposal.
Break out: Host farm review, expansion history to date, review of stock type and production system.
Workshop 2 – ‘Managing Cash Flow’:- Case study showing the impact of farm expansion on cash flow and borrowing capacity.
Break out: Host farmer interview. Future expansion ambitions and plans.
Workshop 3 – ‘Dealing with Risk Analysis’:- Quantifying the cost and ameliorating the risks associated with expansion.
Teagasc dairy specialists and advisers, led by Tom O’Dwyer, Dairy Programme Manager and George Ramsbottom, Dairy Specialist, facilitated the workshops and breakout sessions which also featured presentations by each host farmer on production systems, expansion history and expansion plans. Bank of Ireland Agri Manager Noreen Lacey delivered ’Managing cash flow’ session.
Host Farmer Profiles
Joe Leonard, Stamullen, Co Meath
Joe farms 180 ha of grassland of which 108 ha are owned. Expansion has seen dairy herd size rise from 200 cows in 2005 to the current 300 cows. A partnership agreement with a neighbouring farmer will see the size of the milking platform increase from 104 ha to 150 ha in 2015. Between the two parties, approximately 175 yearling replacement heifers will be bred this year, potentially increasing the size of the dairy herd milked next year to 500 cows.
The grass-based milk production system in operation on the farm resulted in a milk yield averaging 395 kg milk solids per cow (912 kg per hectare) in 2013.
The low-cost philosophy exhibited by the Leonards also extends to their approach to facilities. The 40 unit milking parlour was built by Joe and his father Peter in the winter of 2009/2010. The 6 million litre lined lagoon was constructed in 2008 while the 500-place topless cubicle unit was constructed in 2009 on the site of an existing wintering pad. In 2012, a tunnel was constructed to link the two sections of the milking platform together.
Denis and Eddie O’Donnell, Golden, Co. Tipperary
The O’Donnells farm 165 ha of grassland of which 66 ha are owned. In 2006, they milked 85 cows at a stocking rate of 2.0 LU/ha when the opportunity arose to milk on a second, leased unit. This, along with further intensification of stocking rate, has resulted in 265 cows being milked on the two units this year. This second unit is located approximately 10 km away from the home farm with hired staff employed to milk there.
Further stocking rate intensification of the two milking sites is planned and, by 2016, it is hoped to increase stocking rate on the home farm to 3.5 LU/ha and to 2.5 LU/ha on the leased farm. In 2013, 15 tonnes of grass dry matter was grown per hectare on the home farm. The further increase in stocking rate will be supported by an increase in the amount of grass grown and utilised at both sites.
Similar to the Leonard farm, a spring calving grass-based milk production system is practised on the farm. In 2013, milk yield averaged 426 kg milk solids per cow (1,258 kg per hectare).