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Objectives of the dairy program

The key objectives of the project will be to provide family dairy farms with the necessary skills and technologies to deliver satisfactory financial return on the resources employed on their farms and to provide them with the technical resources and confidence to undertake profitable expansion of their dairy businesses. The programme will encapsulate different models of expansion each incorporating low cost, high productivity grass-based technologies, and improving the productivity of existing farms (which may not have the scope for land expansion) through increased stocking rate, increased milk solids per cow and increased cows per labour unit. It is recognized that the majority of increased milk production will come from increased output from existing dairy farms and that due to land fragmentation the stocking rate on the milking platform is fast becoming a limiting factor on many farms. The demonstration of key technologies will be part of the programme; these technologies will include grassland management, increasing EBI, production of high quality milk, high health status herds producing milk in a sustainable manner with a monitoring of the carbon footprint of such operations.

A total of five monitor farms will be identified in the Carbery region to demonstrate how best to maximize financial returns on capital employed within the family farm model. These farms will be representative of dairy farming in West Cork and will include a new entrant to dairying as well as expanding farms and farms that are currently at a high stocking rate on the grazing platform and overall farm. The farmers involved will allow their farms be used to facilitate this work programme over a period of five years. The farms will be reflective of dairy farms in the Carbery region with regards to current land area farmed, land type, scale and farmer intentions regarding business growth. Over the five years Teagasc will provide intensive technical support to these farm families. The farmers will agree to implement all aspects of the mutually agreed five year plan incorporating all the on-farm investments necessary to accommodate the scale growth planned.

The Shinagh Dairy Farm will be a commercial demonstration farm business. The key drivers for the business will be high sustainable profit, and best practice that can lead the industry forward. To remain a high-profile and effective demonstration farm, Shinagh is required to deliver high sustainable profits, high levels of productivity, and will profile best-practice especially regarding milk quality, labour efficiency and animal health. Looking to the future the farm will be farmed in a sustainable manner with the objective of reducing its carbon footprint. Shinagh must also have a well planned and effective extension of key messages that support Dairy Farmers to keep their farming businesses profitable and sustainable.


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