Video: Behind the scenes on the farm that produces Ireland’s best milk
Tom Power, his wife Moya, and his parents Jim and Brid from Ballymullala, Cappagh, Co. Waterford were awarded the top prize in the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.
The Powers milk 234 cows and their milk is supplied to Glanbia.
Speaking at the event, Tom Power said the family are very conscious of the generations that have lived and farmed their land before and they are delighted to host this event today.
"The 4th October 2016 will be a day that we will never forget.
"To be announced as the overall winner of the NDC & Kerrygold National Milk Quality Award was a huge honour and something we are obviously very proud to have achieved.
"Farming has always been in the blood here on the beautiful Drumhills and learning from the generation that went before, we have strived to grow the business and achieve the highest possible standards in milk quality and composition.
"To be recognised for doings so is flattering. Behind every busy farm is a huge support team and it is impossible to thank every person who contributes to our success, however we would like to acknowledge the support we receive from the wider team around us," he said.
Tom took over the farm from his parents in 2001. Jim had a herd of around 70 cows when quotas were introduced in 1984.
The Powers have become increasingly specialised in dairying but plan to continue rearing drystock for sale as yearlings in the years ahead.
Tom has been a member of the Future Focus Discussion Group since 1999 which he finds very useful in seeing how other people are managing different situations and coming up with new ideas.
The 139 hectare farm comprising both owned and leased land, has a 90 ha milking platform.
The milking platform includes 67 ha of owned land and 23 ha of land leased from two different owners. While the overall stocking rate in 2016 was 2.6 LU/ha, the milking platform was stocked at 2.5 cows/ha.
Besides Tom and Jim, one full-time person, Shane Flavin, is employed on the farm. Contractors are used to cut silage and to spread slurry and fertiliser.
Tom believes that good breeding and calving practices are big considerations for quality dairy farming, saying that they actively aim for compact calving and try to avoid late calvers. The Power family place a big emphasis on strong hygiene practices in the farm and on milk recording. Grass however is their key ingredient.
They believe that keeping good quality grass in front of the cows for as long as possible in the year makes a big contribution to milk quality.
The herd of black and white cows on the Power farm come from the more traditional British Friesian type. In more recent years, high EBI sires have been used.
The heifers introduced to the herd this year have similar genetic merit for fertility to the herd average but higher milk production potential. Approximately half of the 2017-born calves are sired by crossbred AI bulls.
• 20 Unit milking parlour;
• 380 Cubicles for cows and heifers;
• Slatted tanks for 100LU;
• Slurry storage capacity for 400LU.
The Powers calve all of their cows in the spring. This year calving started on 18 January and median calving date was 7th February.
The plan for this year is to milk 234 cows. As of 31st May there were 234 dairy cows; 74 replacement heifer calves and 67 yearling replacement heifers on the farm.
The Powers also graze approximately 50 LU of drystock on land away from the milking platform.
Award Winning Farm
The Powers were winners of the 2016 National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Milk Quality Awards competition. That’s why you are here today. This competition rewards excellence in SCC levels, TBC and Thermoduric readings in raw milk as well as a number of on farm factors.
This raw milk is processed into products which are sold on the international markets. It is the first link in the chain.
So, what has marked this farm out as National Winners of this prestigious competition? Firstly, let’s look at the trends in volume and quality supplied to the co-op over the past number of years presented in Table 2.
The Power family has produced milk with consistently low SCC and TBC levels over the years. Limited access to quota has meant that there was little increase in supply between 2010 and 2014 but a 30% increase in the volume sold since then.
Composition of the milk sold has also improved over the 7-year period with fat and protein content increasing by 0.38% and 0.15% respectively. Average annual SCC dropped varied from 121,000 and 173,000 over the 2010-2014 period but with quota removal decreased to 95,000 cells/ml in 2015 and to 76,000 cells/ml in 2016.
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