Why this mixed dairy herd aiming to break new ground in the west
A 100-cow pedigree dairy herd in Co Galway is to become the focus of interest from dairy farmers in the west as pedigree cross-bred cows are introduced to run side by side with the Holsteins-Friesians.
The dairy herd at Mountbellew Agricultural College is being divided equally between Holstein-Friesian and Holstein-Jersey cross-bred cows for comparison under "local farming conditions" in 2018.
Herd manager John Tully said: "What we are doing is looking at how Holstein-Jersey cross cows would perform under the typical farm conditions in this region, so that we can offer the best advice to farmers in the area and to our agricultural students at the college.
"We asked local farmers what they wanted us to do, that would be of benefit to them, and they suggested comparing the performance of cross breds with our Holstein-Friesian herd", he added.
"We are going to look at every aspect of the breeding, herd performance, management, costings, profitability and we will be making that information available to the farmers in this area.
"They will be able to see how the herd performs side by side with the other cows in the herd which are mainly Holstein-Friesian with a few British Friesian, under farming conditions which are very similar to their own farms," he added.
Local farmers feel that results obtained in other areas of the country may not be replicated under the specific conditions which they have to cope with.
All progeny from the herd are sold as calves.
The possible lower return for Holstein-Jersey cross calves will be matched against the higher value of milk produced from the cross breds, contributed to by the higher solids.
Fifty Holstein-Friesian cows from the herd were disposed of at Mountbellew Mart last week to make way for the change over, with prices peaking at €1,700.
The herd is managed as a one-man unit with some relief help and some involvement by agricultural students as part of their agricultural training course for the Teagasc Certificate.
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