'Less than 50pc of farmers are milk recording - how can they make strides forward?'
Ireland is falling far short on milk recording figures
More farmers are seeking to access pregnancy tests for cows through milk recording, with 30,000 tested this season, according to Munster Cattle Breeding.
Munster AI's Terry Dillon said there has been an increase in uptake on the "simple" test, carried out when milk recording as it requires "no handling".
However, he warned, for a country that is progressing strongly in dairy, we are falling far short on milk recording figures internationally.
"Around 50pc or less farmers are milk recording and if you don't know what your cows are doing and the potential they can get, then how can we make strides forward?" asked Mr Dillon. "It is like buying a car - if you didn't know the mileage, how would you know exactly what you were buying?"
He was talking at a recent open day on the Zurich/Farming Independent Farmer of the Year (Peter and Paula Hynes farm), and said they are using their milk recording data to pick out the best cows to use to breed replacements in their 150 cow herd.
Their Teagasc adviser Grainne Hurley explained how, in five years, the herd have gone from producing 285kg milk solids a hectare to now delivering 400kg-plus this year.
The calves on the Hynes farm are in the top 1pc in the country, with 66pc of the cows milking in their first and second lactations, with the aim to be at 200 cows by next year.
The six week calving rate has risen from 20pc in 2012 to 68pc this year, with the aim of reaching 90pc by 2020. Currently the net profit a hectare is at €720, with the farm aiming for €1,335/ha by 2020 through an increase in cow numbers, along with factors such as improving grass utilised and milk solids per cow.