Equine groups to be set up
The Teagasc equine specialist advisory team is planning to set up a network of equine discussion groups around the country this year.
Discussion groups have been an integral part of the Teagasc Advisory service since the 1980s and there are currently 280 dairy, 74 drystock, 40 sheep and 21 tillage discussion groups being facilitated by Teagasc nationwide.
Meeting at regular intervals throughout the year, members gather to discuss the various issues that affect their farming operations, with the purpose of sharing information and learning from each other.
By working together, they improve quality and efficiency in their product and the animals they produce, while the group meetings allow farmers to discuss their current farming difficulties with like-minded individuals.
Research has shown that dairy farmers who are members of a discussion group have improved performance, reduced costs, introduced new technologies quicker and, as a result, they have increased overall farm profit when compared to non-group members.
It is only in the past two years that the concept of discussion groups has evolved in the equine sector. There are currently two such groups serviced by Teagasc -- one based in West Mayo and the other in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
Both groups are working towards the same aim, which is to produce horses that meet the market requirements, whatever sector of the market that may be.
Teagasc believes that the formation of similar groups throughout the country would be of great benefit to breeders and it is our aim that, over the next few years, there will an equine discussion group set up near you.