Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

EBI cows all the talk after discussion group result

Survival rates are shown to be vastly superior with Deise 1250

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

High EBI cows are demonstrating their value on the farms of one of the top discussion groups in the country.

Survey figures from the 17 farms in the Deise 1250 group show that the top 20pc of EBI cows were almost twice as likely to survive beyond their third lactation compared to the bottom 20pc of EBI cows.

In addition to their vastly superior survival rate, high EBI cows also went back in-calf quicker and produced more milk.

The figures were just part of a wide-ranging set of data on display at an open day on one of the member's farms in south Waterford. Hundreds of farmers attended the event at the farm of Liam and Matthew Budds who milk 83 cows in a spring calving system on their 128ac farm.

Their discussion group proved themselves to be one of the best in the country last year when they won the national EBI discussion group competition.

Much of their success is attributed to the high level of grass utilisation achieved on each farm. The group's average of 10.3t dry matter per hectare is 30pc higher than the national average.


The in-depth survey that the group members conducted among themselves also revealed the true extent of the disease issues facing the dairy industry.

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All 17 members' herds tested positive for BVD, with 77pc of the group already resorting to vaccination to control the disease. The incidence of the disease tallies with national figures that estimate that 98pc of Irish dairy herds have been exposed to BVD. However, the group plans to participate fully in the voluntary national eradication scheme that is being launched by Animal Health Ireland next year.

Bulk milk tank analysis also showed that 83pc of the herds had a high incidence of IBR, which again mirrors national averages of 80pc. Two thirds of the group are vaccinating for this disease.

Sixty per cent of the group tested positive for liver fluke and all but one herd tested positive for leptospirosis. The only disease that the Deise 1250 bucked the trend for diseases was neosporosis, with the whole group testing negative despite national averages showing that 17pc of herds have this disease.

Over two thirds of the group are currently over quota despite the fact that over 70pc of the members have bought milk quota over the last four years. The group is targeting a 70pc increase in production by 2020.

Indo Farming