Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

70 in-calf heifers bought by Greenfield trial farm

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Around 70 in-calf heifers have been bought in recent days to restock the dairy herd at the Greenfield dairy research farm in Kilkenny.

The heifers, which are due to calf down in February and March, were bought to replace 50 cows which were culled from the farm herd due to fertility and physical problems.

Some 35 of the 50 cows were culled due to fertility issues, while the remaining 15 were culled for lameness, somatic cell count and other physical problems.

Padraig French, head of Teagasc's dairy production research department, said the cull rate was lower than the national average and lower than expected for 2010 since this was the first year of production at the facility.

"We culled 20pc of the cows in total, and around 14pc of them for fertility issues," he explained.

"That is lower than the national average of 23-24pc and lower than we had budgeted for in the first year. We had budgeted for around 27pc," he said.

The cull cows were sold for €500/hd to a farmer who bought all 50 to milk on and get in calf in early 2011.

The 70 new in-calf heifers were bought from another individual farmer for €1,200/hd. However, the cost to the Greenfield farm is likely to be higher, when veterinary testing, transport and vaccinations are factored in.

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Meanwhile, grass production on the farm exceeded expectations in 2010 and the farm's stocking rate will be considerably higher than expected as a consequence.

Although the original plan was to milk 270 cows in 2011, this has been revised upwards to 320 for next year.

The Greenfield holding, which is located at Clara outside Kilkenny city, is a collaborative venture involving Teagasc, Glanbia, the Agricultural Trust, FBD Trust, AIB and the Phelan family, which owns the land.

The main objectives of the farm is to demonstrate best practice in the design, construction and operation of a grass-based milk production system.

It was developed within the constraints of a commercial farm enterprise and must deliver on set goals in terms of turnover, profit margins and repayment on the original financial investment.

The 112ha holding was formerly a tillage farm but was converted into a low capital cost dairy unit.

It has no farm buildings, apart from a milking parlour and calf rearing facilities.

A stand-off pad for the cows, farm roadways, paddocks and a slurry storage lagoon were installed as part of the farm's conversion.

Irish Independent