IHFA Board visit the UCD Lyons Research Facility
The abolition of the European milk quota system in 2015 paves the way to increase cow numbers and milk output. However, the profitability associated with this extra production for individual farms needs to be examined and there must be a continuing focus on improving efficiencies.
It is widely recognised that grass based systems will predominate in Ireland and that land will be the main limiting resource on most farms. In more intensive dairying areas, competition for land is intense. In many cases, a limiting factor to expansion on these dairy farms is the availability of land around the milking platform (MP).
Given the significant costs associated with expansion and the fact that many farmers are operating on a land-bank that is limiting the expansion of their business, a higher input – higher output spring calving grazing system may prove to be attractive. Such a system might facilitate the successful expansion of the farm business without the need to buy or rent extra land, to buy stock, to acquire extra labour or to provide extra cow facilities.
The main aim of the research at UCD Lyons Farm is to evaluate the feasibility (including profitability) of a higher input/output grazing system within such a limited land holding scenario. The focus in such a system is on maximising milk/milk solids output from the existing land holding which involves high output from individual cows and high stocking rates on the MP. This will occur most efficiently through maximising the use of grazed grass/home grown forage in the system and the strategic use of supplementation thereafter.