Calf shed talks: drainage key to reduce bacteria build-up
Calf Shed Talks is new addition to this year’s Dairy Day on 20 November in Punchestown Event Centre.

As well as taking a close look at ventilation requirements for new and existing calf sheds on the day, the Irish Farmers Journal specialist team will be discussing key aspects to be conscious of when designing your shed.

Drainage

One area that is often forgotten about when it comes to calf sheds is floor slope and drainage.

However, they are some of the main reasons why converting an existing shed into calf accommodation may not work.

The aim with any good design should be to prevent a build-up of moisture in calf pens, which can be achieved through a combination of good drainage and effective ventilation.

However, using enough straw obviously has a vital role to play.

Having a high level of moisture in bedding will greatly increase the risk of a virus surviving or bacteria developing. There is also a greater risk of dirty water spreading infection.

A good floor slope should be able to direct moisture to collection channels.

Poor drainage will also lead to an increase in the requirement of straw for the shed.

Wet bedding will reduce the temperature of the bedding.

With young calves comfortable at a temperature of 10°C to 20°C, wet bedding means calves will have to cope with lower temperatures, which can lead to them becoming more stressed.

This acts to increase the incidences of pneumonia developing.

Low temperatures within a shed will be exacerbated where the bedding is wet or where there is a draught in the shed.

Floor slope

Where straw is used, there should be a floor slope of 1:20.

The slope must be able to cope with moisture and direct it towards drainage channels.

One option that will be examined is to leave a solid area in the pen where calves feed, using a board to prevent straw from encroaching on this area.

This is where a large proportion of soiling would occur and could greatly reduce straw usage within the pen.

Cleaning this solid area daily could be a very effective way of reducing bacterial build-up within your calf shed.

Floor slope comes even more into focus around automatic milk feeders to cope with the higher level of urine and dung produced in such a small area.

Adding value to milk – international best practise
What can you expect to hear about issues outside the farmgate at Dairy Day 2018 asks Jack Kennedy.

There are three stages at Dairy Day 2018, with one stage focusing on issues outside the farm gate. Last year, on this stage we had the chairs of all the co-ops up to discuss visions and plans for their co-op as dairy farms expanded and developed.

North and south, the message from the chairs was that the development and equipment was now in place in Ireland and the next stage of the development process was to add value to the milk to deliver a better milk price.

With these comments, the theme for the this year’s stage was born – adding value to milk.

The Irish dairy industry is vibrant, growing and looking for new opportunities. Where is the future for added value in the dairy chain? What milk prices can farmers expect in five and 10 years’ time?

We hope to get some answers to these questions at Dairy Day on Tuesday 20 November 2018 in Punchestown.

The first session on this stage will focus on understanding milk and making the most of it. There is a lot of talk in the industry on the alternative juices that are supposedly replacing milk in diets and available in shops all over the country.

Dietician Orla Walsh will set out to discuss the merits of milk and debunk the myths of the dairy-free diets.

Empowerment

The objective of the session is to empower farmers with knowledge of the topic so that they can discuss sensibly the merits of dairy diets at home and abroad so that dairy proteins can get a fair hearing.

The second session is all about adding value to dairy and the intention is to use international best practice to map the right direction for Irish dairy companies.

Yes, many of our dairy companies are already playing in this space and returning value to farmers, but many more are still only climbing up the value ladder.

We will have an Irish industry overview from Irish Farmers Journal agribusiness editor Eoin Lowry as he explains how Irish companies are already adding value.

Following that, James Caffyn from GIRA market intelligence will explain how global dairy companies are adding value to dairy product successfully and returning better milk prices to farmers.

James is a respected consultant with GIRA and has a great handle on what is happening in other leading dairy-producing countries.

Following that, Roisin Hennerty, CEO Ornua Foods Americas and global marketing director, will give an overview of the US market.

Padraig Brennan, director of markets with Bord Bia, is just back from an international trade mission and he will discuss the dairy growth anticipated in Chinese and Asian market.

Session three is about understanding how dairy trade works and what the milk price outlook is on key dairy commodities for the next 12 months.

We will hear from US dairy farmer Llyod Holterman from Wisconsin in the US as he explains how he trades milk.

Then we will hear from experts in trading – Rik Loeters, director, Trigona Dairy Trade, Netherlands, and Lucas Fuess, director, Market Intelligence Higher Ground, Chicago, US.

Dairy markets

John Lancaster, head of EU Dairy Consulting, INTL FCStone Ireland, will also participate in this session, so if farmers don’t understand what is coming next on dairy markets or what to expect then it won’t be the fault of the speakers.

The final session on this stage is the whole debate over climate change and the environment and what are the challenges and solutions for a growing dairy sector.

We will start with John Fitzgerald, chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, ESRI, and Trinity College Dublin, describing the challenge and then we will hear from voices working in the sector about what and how farmers can manage this challenge.

Noel Meehan from Teagasc will describe what’s happening with the Teagasc and the Dairy Sustainability Ireland initiative on managing nutrients and water from dairy farmers. Ciaran Fitzgerald, food economist with over 30-year experience in the food industry will describe the facts on climate change and the dairy food chain.

Finally John Muldowney, Department of Agriculture, Climate change and Bioenergy policy division, will outline the key challenges and solutions to the climate change limits and targets on farming.

Stage 1 of 3

Beyond the farmgate: overall theme – adding value to milk

  • Session 1: 9.30am to 10.30am – Understanding milk.
  • Session 2; 10.30am to 12pm – Adding value to Irish dairy products.
  • Session 3; 12pm to 1.30pm – Outlook for Irish milk prices.
  • Session 4; 1.30pm to 3pm – Cows, the environment and climate change.
  • For more detail on other stages, see Dairy Day supplement pages 16, 17 and back cover.

    Dairy Day timetable

    Beyond the farm gate: overall theme – adding value to milk

    The Irish dairy industry is vibrant, growing and looking for new opportunities. Where is the future for added value in the dairy chain? What milk prices can farmers expect in five and 10 years’ time?

    Session 1: 9.30 to 10.30

    Understanding milk and making the most of it

    Moderator: Amii McKeever, editor, Irish Country Living.

  • Orla Walsh, self-employed dietitian: The value of dairy – debunking the myths on dairy-free diets.
  • Teddy Cashman, dairy farmer and chair of the NDC: How can dairy farmers meet the challenges of a fast-changing consumer?
  • Session 2: 10.30 to 12.00

    Adding value to dairy – using international best practice to map the right direction for Irish dairy companies.

    Moderator: Jack Kennedy, deputy editor, Irish Farmers Journal.

  • Eoin Lowry, agribusiness editor and deputy editor, Irish Farmers Journal: The Irish dairy Industry overview – what Irish companies are adding value?
  • James Caffyn, GIRA Market intelligence: what global dairy companies are adding value to dairy product successfully and returning better milk prices to farmers?
  • Roisin Hennerty, CEO Ornua Foods Americas and global marketing director: The US market – a perspective.
  • Padraig Brennan, director of markets with Bord Bia: Dairy growth anticipated in Chinese/Asian market?
  • Session 3: 12.00 to 1.30

    Understanding how dairy trade works and what is the milk price outlook on key dairy commodities for the next 12 months?

  • Jack Kennedy to interview US dairy farmer Llyod Holterman, Wisconsin, US.
  • Moderator: Lorcan Allen, Irish Farmers Journal.

  • Rik Loeters, director, Trigona Dairy Trade, Netherlands.
  • Lucas Fuess, director, Market Intelligence Higher Ground Chicago, US.
  • John Lancaster, head of EU dairy consulting, INTL FCStone.
  • Session 4: 1.30 to 3pm

    Climate change and the Environment – what are the challenges and solutions for a growing dairy sector?

    Introduction to session:

  • VIDEO: John Fitzgerald, chair, Climate Change Advisory Council; ESRI and Trinity College Dublin.
  • Moderator: Thomas Hubert, Irish Farmers Journal.

  • Noel Meehan, Teagasc: What’s happening with the Teagasc and the Dairy Sustainability Ireland initiative on managing nutrients from dairy farmers?
  • Ciaran Fitzgerald, food economist with over 30 year experience in the food industry: What are the facts on climate change and the dairy food chain?
  • John Muldowney, Department of Agriculture: Key challenges and solutions to the climate change limits and targets on farming.
    Dairy Day: MSD pushing the prevention message
    The company ran an initative seeking out dairy farmers who are focused on best practice in terms of nutrition, genetics, management and animal health.

    Earlier this year, MSD Animal Health global team launched a worldwide animal health initiative called Time to Vaccinate with the aim to provide farmers with information and shared experiences about nutrition, genetics, management and animal health.

    It focuses on the use of preventative medicine alongside good management, which includes aspects of housing, nutrition, hygiene and ventilation.

    Under the Time to Vaccinate initiative, MSD Animal Health Ireland launched a competition called Prevention for Profit. William Minchin said: “The Prevention for Profit competition is aimed at progressive dairy farmers who are maximising their profitability by focusing on four key pillars of production: nutrition, genetics, management and animal health.”

    The competition, launched in August, has attracted wide interest in the dairy farming sector. Four provincial champions and one overall winner were selected by a panel of judges consisting of Prof Michael Doherty, dean and head of the School of Veterinary Medicine at University College Dublin; Mike Magan, dairy farmer and chair of Animal Health Ireland; Aidan Brennan, Irish Farmers Journal dairy editor; and Sarah Campbell, MSD Animal Health technical adviser.

    Minchin said: “As the leading supplier of preventative vaccines to the Irish agricultural industry, MSD Animal Health is a key driver in the campaign to reduce the prevalence of disease on Irish farms. It was evident during this competition and in each individual profile that these selected farmers value the significance of animal health as a contributing factor to the performance of their farming enterprise.”

    Dairy Day: soil fertility and fodder talks in the Skills Hub
    On Dairy Day on 20 November, farmers will get practical tutorials in the Skills Hub designed to help you run your business as efficiently as possible.

    The Skills Hub will be running all day during Dairy Day in Punchestown Event Centre on Tuesday 20 November. The aim of the Skills Hub is to showcase best practice and the efficiencies required to run a dairy farm in Ireland today. The relaxed, short discussions will hopefully get us all thinking about areas on our farms that can be improved. Key areas up for discussion include fodder production, financial management, labour, antibiotic use and getting through Bord Bia inspections.

    No one is going to forget 2018 in a hurry and it’s fair to say no one wants to go through that stress again. Our discussion with Teagasc dairy adviser Richie O’Brien will focus on the issues that came up in 2018 regarding feed and in particular how to avoid problems happening in the future.

    Soil fertility

    Soil fertility improvements have the potential to improve national fodder production dramatically. With well over 65% of Irish soils in index 1 and 2, there is definite scope to improve on this. In the future, if soil fertility is not in a better state on Irish farms, fodder deficits will be an issue again.

    Of course, there are more factors at play such as stocking rates that need to be considered when it comes to maintaining adequate fodder stocks in the future, especially if extreme climatic conditions are to become the norm.

    Similarly, financial management has been a nightmare for some farmers this year. Areas worst affected by the drought have seen annual feed costs more than double. The problem is these costs need to be financed and unfortunately existing debt still has to be paid down. Stephen Connolly from Teagasc will talk about the options available to farmers in this situation.

    Labour shortage

    Another topical issue is that of labour. As the economy improves, it is becoming more difficult to attract good labour and young people to work on dairy farms. We will discuss what really needs to change to attract millennials to work on our farms. A proper start and finish time, straightforward routines, professional contracts and payroll will all be up for debate. Teagasc's Marion Beecher, who specialises in labour productivity and efficiency, will be on hand to talk us through this.

    Well-designed handling units are also key for a calm work environment. This is important for staff and personal safety as well as making routine tasks more straightforward. Noel Byrne will highlight the points to consider when putting a handling unit together.

    International guest Lloyd Holterman will share his secrets on how to manage a large dairy herd without using antibiotics at all. He is farming in partnership in Wisconsin in the United States, milking 950 cows and has been doing just that.

    Finally, the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) has a number of key criteria farmers must fulfil to get though the audit. We will talk to an inspector to find out what’s involved in the audit and the areas that cause most difficulty.