Greenfield site will bank good profits

The Greenfield demonstration dairy farm in Kilkenny is set to bank €50,000-60,000 following another strong year for dairy returns.

Despite significant falls in milk prices over the last six months, Teagasc's Lawrence Shaloo said that the farm would average over 43c/l for milk in 2014, close to the same price returned during the record milk price year of 2013.

Mr Shaloo, who was speaking at the National Dairy Conference in Dublin last week, told delegates that the management team at the farm were working towards creating a production system that had a break-even point of just 25c/l.

"Our break-even price at Greenfield is currently 30c/l, but we think that there is scope to get that down to 25c/l," he told the 500-strong audience.

Mr Shaloo said that the biggest scope for reducing costs was by reducing the farm maintenance costs that have been running as high as €50,000 a year in recent years.

"We have been spending on things that we probably should've done at the start. For example, we covered the roadways with dust this year. We also put a second feed-face on the stand-off pad. But these are one-offs, and we think that we can save about 3c/l in this regard," he said.

The Moorepark researcher added that fertility was also improving as the herd matured, which would reduce their replacement requirements by close to 10pc.

"There was only 10pc of the herd not in-calf by the end of the breeding season this year," said Mr Shaloo.

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"We will also see output increase because we are renting an extra 8.5ha, which will allow us to carry an extra 25 cows, which in turn will allow us to dilute overhead costs further," he said.

Mr Shaloo estimates that the farm grew up to 13.5t/ha of grass in what was an excellent year for grass growth on Irish farms.

As a result, milk solids were also higher, at 3.7pc protein and 4.7pc butterfat. "We should bank €50,000-60,000 this year after all capital and interest repayments," said Mr Shaloo.

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