Arrabawn Co-op suppliers’ drive for greater efficiencies and profits have been boosted with the launch of a new ‘Milk for Profit’ programme in conjunction with Teagasc.
Officially launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD on the farm of Seamus and Brian Molamphy, Portroe, Co. Tipperary, the ‘Milk for Profit’ programme aims to promote the development of robust dairy systems capable of withstanding milk price volatility.
The Molamphys are one of five development farms within the joint programme. Among the other five farms selected for the programme are those of John Dowd, Kilconly, Tuam and Charlie Whiriskey, Kiltullagh, Athenry.
The five development farms have been selected to demonstrate the benefits of technology adoption and best practice in the areas of financial management and planning, compact calving, grass utilisation, breeding management, herd health and milk quality.
Progress on each farm will be documented and freely available to Arrabawn’s 950 suppliers. A series of workshops and open days will also to be delivered across the Arrabawn catchment to ensure suppliers are adequately informed in their efforts to adopt best practices in areas such as grassland, fertility, milk quality and cost control.
Launching the programme, Minister Creed said: “Recent market volatility in the global dairy sector has highlighted again the need to maximise on-farm efficiency in order to remain competitive. Ireland is one of the world’s leading providers in terms of milk quality and our dairy farmers deserve to be supported with programmes like this that will ultimately help them get the best possible return for their efforts.
“Milk for Profit will ensure the five monitor farms will receive the very best expertise available from Arrabawn and Teagasc, with the on-farm learnings then passed on to other farmers across the co-op’s supplier network.”
Kiltullagh farmer Charlie Whiriskey, who milks 96 cows said that the programme offers a real opportunity to expert assistance and advice from Arrabawn and Teagasc to help drive profit on the farm: “What I would be focussed on is increasing profit, through grass management by getting the best quality grass for the cows and tightening up the calving pattern and cutting down the workload. I know from my own situation, there’s always room for improvement.”
Kilconly farmer John Dowd said that improving efficiencies in the current challenging mark is hugely important. “The programme will help to improve our efficiency and maybe get a closer look at what we are doing and hopefully improve aspects of our farming. From this point of view, it maybe gets us to focus a bit more on our figures.”
Targets for the programme include increasing grass growth and utilisation on farms; upskilling suppliers in the areas of financial planning and budgeting and improving the six week calving rate and calving interval from the current co-op averages of 60% and 389 days, respectively. It will also seek to increase milk solids production per cow through optimum grassland management and improvements in herd fertility and milk quality.
Arrabawn has also established a specific ‘New Entrant Support’ aspect to the programme that will provide a dedicated service to new entrant suppliers, including one to one advice and exclusive meetings tailored to meet their specific needs.
Arrabawn CEO Conor Ryan said: “Maximising efficiencies are critical for any business but were not perhaps the priority over recent years when milk price was artificially high. We are witnessing a slight recovery at the moment but the market will remain challenged and Arrabawn, together with Teagasc, has launched this programme to support farmers in delivering greater efficiencies that will help them cope with price volatility going forward. Through the expertise of our own and Teagasc representatives, we will be working closely with the five development farms in Tipperary, Galway and Offaly to discover ways of improving efficiencies and will be passing that information on to our other suppliers.”
Director of Teagasc, Prof Gerry Boyle said; “Our own analysis has already shown that the most profitable dairy farmers are also the ones that are most likely to have adopted innovative practices on their farms.
For a number of years we have been looking at how to manage volatility in a post-quota environment, not least through efficiencies required to drive profitability at farm level. This programme will give us key insights from five farms across the Arrabawn network and the detail passed on from these farms to other suppliers will be of significant benefit in ensuring those efficiencies are profitable and achievable. We are delighted to be working with Arrabawn on this programme.”