48,000 farmers applied for milk reduction scheme
On the back of the EU’s €150m milk reduction scheme, almost 50,000 farmers have signed up to cut their milk production.

According to figures released by the European Commission, 48,288 dairy farmers from across the European Union have applied to voluntarily reduce their milk production. By the last quarter of 2016 and the end of January 2017, some 861,000t of milk has been taken out of production.

While there was a recovery coming in the global markets even at the time of the launch of the scheme, the European Commission is claiming that the reduction scheme further helped to drive the recovery.

EU average farm gate milk prices have increased by 31% since last summer. The average February milk price was 33c/l across Europe.

Farmers who signed up to the voluntary milk reduction scheme receive 14.1c/l for every litre taken out of production.


In Ireland, payments to some 3,500 farmers who signed up to the first phase of the scheme were made at the end of March. Initially, 4,500 farmers had applied to the milk reduction scheme, but according to the Department, 1,000 farmers opted not to follow through with reducing their milk supply.

The average per-farmer payment is €1,850.

The Department confirmed that phase two of the scheme is oversubscribed.

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How many applied for the milk reduction scheme in your county?

Award-winning Monaghan dairy farm to open gates for farm walk
Dairy farmers and those thinking of entering the sector have been encouraged to visit the McKenna farm, winners of the 2018 Milk Quality Awards, on 12 June.

The McKenna family farm in Co Monaghan, winners of the 2018 Quality Milk Awards, is to host a farm walk and seminar on 12 June 2019.

Organised by the National Dairy Council (NDC) in association with Teagasc, Ornua and Lakeland Dairies, the farm walk will follow a seminar focusing on food and sustainability.

Members of the public are invited to visit the 105-cow dairy farm run by Darran and Denise McKenna from 1.30pm.

Teagasc dairy knowledge transfer specialist Tom O'Dwyer urged farmers to avail of the opportunity to visit the farm: “The McKenna farm is great example of a top-class dairy farm and all dairy farmers and those thinking of entering the sector should come along on 12 June to see the farm for themselves and meet the family.”


Investment in the farm began in 2007, when sheds, parlour and tunnels were constructed to allow the fifth generation farming in Derrygasson build cow numbers from 60 to 105.

On the farm walk, groups will be led around the McKenna farm to cover the following topics:

  • Farm performance, both current and historical.
  • Producing high-quality milk with low SCC and TBC.
  • Sustainable milk production while caring for the environment.
  • Reduced antibiotic use – the case for selective dry cow therapy.
  • Sustainability seminar

    The morning’s seminar will include speakers Dr Marianne Walsh, who is senior nutritionist with the NDC, and award-winning chef and owner of Kai Restaurant in GalwayJess Murphy.

    Jess said: “Food waste is one of the world’s biggest sustainability issues, but [is] easily preventable with the introduction of food education.

    "Not only would this help individuals become more adventurous with what they’re eating, it would help save their hard-earned money.

    “The area of land needed to grow the food that ends up in landfill is larger than the size of China.

    "We have to focus on increasing awareness and education, [they] will be key to tackling this global issue."

    Read more

    Watch: farmers star in new Kerrygold ads

    Monaghan's McKennas scoop top Quality Milk Award

    Kerry cuts milk price
    Kerry Group is the first dairy processor to introduce a price cut for April supplies.

    Kerry Group has set its base price for April milk at 28.94c/l excluding VAT, a spokesperson said this Thursday. This is a 0.5c/l cut on the March base price.

    Based on average April milk solids, the price returned to farmers inclusive of bonuses is 30.96c/l excluding VAT.

    In recent days, Lakeland and Glanbia held their prices for April. The recent positive trend observed on global markets has led IFA dairy chair Tom Phelan to say that "co-ops can and must switch towards a more positive approach on milk prices from now on".

    Dairy analyst Torsten Hemme of the IFCN network said: "Supply is very weak, dairy stocks in storage are low and I’m surprised that future markets are so relaxed", observing that "demand outstripping supply".

    Read more

    Glanbia holds price for April milk supplies

    Call for co-ops to be more ‘positive’ on price

    Listen: optimism mixed with realism from dairy experts

    In pictures: 92-cubicle shed through TAMS
    A new 92-bed cubicle shed was recently constructed with the help of a TAMS grant. William Conlon reports

    Robbie Ennis, in partnership with his father Paul, recently constructed a new 92-cubicle shed on their farm located at Guidenstown in Co Kildare. The farm has steadily expanded over the past 10 years, moving from 140 cows up to the current herd of 250 cows.

    The herd is milked all year round with 80 cows calved in the autumn. Cows are three-quarter bred British Friesian with 483kg of milk solids sold per cow last year off 6,300l delivered. The aim on the farm is to feed on average between 800kg and 1,000kg per cow – per year. Breeding on the farm is progressing well, with 90% of the herd submitted for breeding in the past three weeks. The farm also grows approximately 25 acres of tillage, split between maize and winter wheat, which is used for wholecrop. The milking platform itself is approximately 73ha with 250 cows the maximum the farm can carry, according to Robbie, with young stock brought through to stores on the farm.

    Pictures one and two

    The addition of new housing facilities was something that the farm had been planning for a few years.

    “We needed the shed, particularly for buffer feeding,” Robbie explained.

    Picture two.

    “We would have a good focus on grass on the farm, but the way that the weather is you have to be flexible at the shoulders of the year when weather gets challenging.”

    The shed itself is 28.8m long and 21.5m wide, with feeding on two sides of the shed, giving approximately 50m of feed space, which works out at 540mm/cow. Total floor space of the shed is 619m2, which works out at 6.7m2/cow.

    With cows being milked off cubicles, cow comfort was seen as vital. Passageways are designed to ensure that all cows have two routes to the feed face.

    Pictures three and four

    Internally, the shed is laid out with two double rows of cubicles running down the length of the shed and a single row of cubicles against the back wall of the shed. Head to head cubicles are 2.2m in length, while the single row of cubicles is 2.4m.

    Picture three.

    The lunge zone between the head to head cubicles is 1.05m wide. Cubicles are fitted at 44in (1.15m) centres and are 1.68m to the brisket board. A pipe is used as a brisket board to position cows in the cubicles.

    The back passageway in the shed is 2.45m wide, while the passageway running down the centre of the shed is 2.8m wide. If constructing a cubicle shed, there is a requirement to have passageways of at least 1.8m wide. However, opting for larger passageways can ensure there is less bullying of cows, this can lead to higher occupancy of cubicles. This will help to reduce lameness issues.

    Picture four.

    The main benefit of increased cow comfort and lying times is an increase in milk production, which is particularly important for winter-milking herds. When it comes to cubicle shed design, prioritising cow comfort should always be an aim, while some farmers will be reluctant to invest heavily in facilities that cows may only be in for a few months, the majority of cows in a spring calving system will still probably be milked off cubicles, in some capacity for four-to-six weeks of the year.

    The crossover point where there is no area to feed is 3.5m wide, this is the minimum requirement where you have a drinker in place.

    There are four drinkers in the shed located at the crossover points.

    According to the Department specifications, cubicle sheds are required to provide cows with two routes to the feed face, there should also be no dead ends in passageways.

    Picture five

    Fibre cement sheeting is fitted throughout the entire roof of the shed, with safety cages fitted under all clear roof lights. A continuous opening is in place directly under the eaves along the back of the shed to provide inlet ventilation, while the front of the shed is open. An elevated ridge cap is in place over an opening at the apex of the shed roof to provide outlet ventilation.

    Picture five.

    The shed is 4.9m to the eaves, rising to 7.9m at the apex of the shed. The roof has a 15°slope.

    “We really wanted a shed that had a good flow of air and good movement for cattle, we always had a rough idea of the type of shed we wanted,” Robbie said. All sheeting for the shed was supplied by Tegral.

    Picture six

    Slatted tanks run in an L-shape along the feed-face, with one continuous tank underneath. The tank running along the front of the shed is fitted with 4.4m slats, while the tank running perpendicular to this along the side of the shed, is fitted with 3.8m slats.

    Picture six.

    Total slurry storage capacity in the tanks is approximately 478m3. The tanks are fitted with a circulation pipe to aid with agitation. The slurry can also be pumped from this tank to a 300,000 gallons over-ground slurry storage tank adjoining the new development. The two back passageways in the shed are fitted with automatic Dairy-power scrapers that were supplied and fitted by John Corcoran of Courtwood Dairy Services.


    While a new shed is a substantial investment for any farm, having good facilities on-farm can greatly streamline simple tasks around the yard.

    “The way that farms are gone now you have to be well set-up, you can’t be a slave to it. We have to work long enough hours as it is,” Robbie said. “The shed was finished in January and cows were put straight into it. It has worked very well so far, cows are happy in it and I’m happy with it,” he said.

    Robbie Ennis.

    The total cost of the development came to approximately €200,000 including VAT.

    This includes the cost of constructing a large dungstead adjoining the new shed.

    Robbie is a young farmer and was eligible for a 60% grant on the first €80,000 he invested, which means he is eligible for €48,000 in grant aid. Once grant aid and the VAT element of the shed are claimed, the expected net cost should be circa €130,000, or €1,413/cow place. All barriers, cubicles, water troughs and mats were supplied and fitted by Condon Engineering. O’Dwyer Steel supplied the shed, while concrete work was completed by Murlock Construction – who also erected the shed. Plans for the shed were completed by Grasstec.