Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

'The man in charge dictates grass production on farms not its location'

They mightn't win many All Irelands but they can grow grass

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

"We are seeing very little variation in the location effect of grass production," Teagasc Grass Specialist Michael O'Donovan told dairy farmers at Moorepark 2017.

He said that 10 years ago farmers would have come to Moorepark and said "they are below in cork they can produce 14t of grass no problem, they have dry land and all that".

But he said farmers can go away today and tell themselves that "the fellas in Westmeath and Galway can also grow plenty of grass.

"They mightn't win many All Irelands but they can grow grass," he joked.

Donovan said there is plenty of potential to grow grass in Ireland and the location where you are doesn't have much of an effect on the level you can produce. 

"The man in charge of the grass dictates the level of production and the level of utilisation," he stressed.

"The challenge is to bring more grass into the system and utilise that grass. Plenty of guys will talk about milk yield per cow. But milk yield per cow is not a profitability index.

"Grass utilisation is the key KPI for us. If you can utilise more grass there is more profit in it for you.

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"It you want to expand. you will need to grow more grass if you want to be efficient. Our focus has to be on grazing management. We have to get better at it," he told farmers. 

Further expansion will depend on the adoption of Resilient Technologies which is the theme for today’s open day, which is sponsored by FBD Insurance, and which is attracting thousands of farmers from all over the country and from abroad.

Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle said: “It’s now over two years since milk quotas were abolished and dairy farmers have made significant productivity gains in that period. 

"It shows how the technologies being applied at farm level, especially in relation to animal breeding and grassland management, are fuelling this expansion in a sustainable way.”

Also in attendance the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed said Irish dairy farming is in a very positive position, but it must continue to focus on resilient technologies which allow us to maintain our competitive advantage in milk production. 

"Our unique grass-based milk production, from family farms in Ireland, is a sustainable model. 2017 is designated as the ‘Year of Sustainable Grassland’ to celebrate this most important productive and sustainable source of livestock nutrition.

The benefits of growing and utilising grass to its optimum, is well demonstrated by Teagasc here in Moorepark," he said.

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