Clearly genetic and fertility progress has been substantial. Milk production was constrained by access to quota. Now this restriction has been removed.
While for example, national herd size increased by an estimated 36pc between 2010 and 2015, there is considerable variation in both the scale of the increase and current average herd size.
Average herd size is now estimated to be 75 cows and the size of the average dairy herd is expected to grow further still to 85 cows per dairy farm by 2020 (Teagasc Road Map for Dairying).
The figures presented uses data from the Teagasc eProfit Monitor from 2010.
Herd size categories
There are effectively three herd size categories evident:
- Less than 100 cow category. These will make up approximately 75pc of all dairy farms by 2020. On such farms labour is typically provided by the farmer with family and seasonal help for silage making and calving.
- The 100-200 cow category. These will make up approximately 20pc of all dairy farms by 2020.
Labour is typically provided by the farmer and one full-time hired worker.
- The greater than 200 cow category. These will make up approximately 5pc of all dairy farms in the database.
Typically the owner operates more in a managerial capacity; two or more full-time hired workers on the farms.
Questions that must be asked as a result of this analysis
What steps should Irish dairy farmers take next to breed the right cow for their farms?
Are the breeding objectives of the three different categories identified above the same or different?
Will breeding emphasis change in future - if so what areas are likely to become more important in the years ahead?
George Ramsbottom is a Teagasc dairy specialist based in Oak Park, Co Carlow email firstname.lastname@example.org
Maximising the benefits of new dairy technologies
Technologies which dairy farmers can use to improve their farm business performance are the focus of the Teagasc National Dairy Conference on Tuesday, December 8 and Wednesday, December 9 in the Lyrath Hotel in Co Kilkenny. 'Managing in a new era' is the theme of the event.
This year's conference takes a new format to previous years. It will be held over two days, with farmers having the option of attending either or both days.
The most innovative aspect is the inclusion of break out sessions on both afternoons.
Farmers have the choice of seven different workshops on each day, from which they can select three.
The workshop highlighted on this page - How to breed the right cow for your farm - takes place on Tuesday.
To see the full programme and to book your place, visit www.teagasc.ie or contact 01 2968688, or email teagascndc2015@conference partners.ie
On Tuesday the key note speakers are Mark Voorbergen, Voorbergen consultancy, who will give his outlook for dairying. Sean Gallagher, entrepreneur, will talk about 'Measuring the financial well-being of a growing business'.
On Wednesday, Declan Coyle from Andec consulting will speak about 'Managing yourself' while Mark Payne from Dairy NZ will address the topic of 'Managing others successfully'.