Dairy Day in photos and videos
Our photographers were out and about at Dairy Day in the Punchestown Event Centre last week.

Browse the picture gallery above and watch videos from the event below.

You can send in your photos to us at readerspics@farmersjournal.ie or tweet us @IFJ_PictureDesk

Intervention stocks will be cleared by May next year
The European Commission is likely to clear its intervention stockpile of SMP by next May.

In a dedicated session on dairy markets, a panel including dairy traders and market analysts from Ireland, the US and the Netherlands discussed the health of global dairy markets today and moving into 2019.

In its simplest form, milk supply will continue to drive farmgate milk prices into 2019. A surge in European milk collections in spring 2019 will not be good for dairy market prices said Rik Loeters, director of Trigona Dairy Trade in the Netherlands.

However, if milk supplies remain consistent, there is significant room for dairy prices to rise in 2019, particularly as the EU continues to clear its stocks of SMP in intervention. John Lancaster, head of EU dairy consulting at INTL FCStone, said Irish milk prices for next year are likely to decline to between 28c/l and 30c/l.

He added that European milk prices would need to adjust downwards to match where dairy commodity prices are currently sitting.

On trade in dairy markets, Lucas Fuess, director of market intelligence with HighGround Dairy in Chicago, said he was worried for the future of the US dairy industry to see the EU signing a number of significant trade deals in the last year at the same time as US President Donald Trump was pulling the US out of trade pacts.

He added that the EU had stolen significant market shares from US dairy exporters due to the cheap price of EU skimmed powder in 2018.

Milk supply

1. A spring surge in EU milk will hurt milk prices.

2. New Zealand milk supply looks very strong.

3. US milk supply has grown 33 months in a row and will continue to expand in 2019. Dairy prices

1. There is still a high imbalance between the price of fat and protein.

2. EU intervention stockpile of SMP will be cleared by May.

3. This will help lift milk powder prices similar to 2009/10.

4. €4,000/t to €4,500/t is the new normal for butter prices.

Dairy Day: how to design the perfect handling unit
Noel Byrne has blood sampled thousands of cows for Teagasc. He outlined what he thinks is the perfect handling unit.

The design of handling units is a weak point on dairy farms. There’s loads of thought put into milking parlours and cubicle houses, but the handling unit gets less attention.

Noel Byrne is an animal health technician based in Moorepark. He has carried out blood sampling and body condition scoring on thousands of cows on farms over the course of his career.

Noel’s brief was to design a handling unit for a new milking parlour and to also integrate a handling unit into an existing parlour, where cow flow is not as good.

Noel drawing out the design for his handling unit.

Drafting gate

“I think the first thing to say is that an automatic drafting gate is nearly a certainty in this day and age so I think they should be factored into every design. In terms of the new build, I would like to see cows exit the parlour straight out the front. There should be enough space at the front of the parlour to hold all the cows from that row, so if cows are slow to walk through the drafter it won’t affect the speed of exit from the parlour,” Noel said.

His preferred design involved having the drafting gate in the centre of the yard with cows funnelled towards it. The drafting gate is connected to the crush. Cows are drafted to a holding pen which is then connected to a herringbone crush or AI race

Space

Noel stressed the importance of space in this holding area as cows that are drafted will gather in the furthest away section. This should be at least 20 feet away from the drafting gate.

Noel placed the hoof paring crush in the holding area, but at the side nearest the drafting gate because he said this was “dead area”.

Existing parlours

When it came to the existing milking parlour, he said his preference was to have the same design but facing the other way.

“The key thing is to make sure that cows can leave the yard straight away. On a lot of farms I go to, cows need to be held after milking because there’s not enough space in the collecting yard or because they are being routed back through the yard again. A bigger collecting yard or a new roadway can often make a huge difference to cow flow,” Noel said.

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In pictures: Dairy Day 2018

Dairy Day: tactics for when feed and cash are tight
Teagasc dairy advisor Stephen Connolly gave some practical advice at Dairy Day for when feed and cash is tight.

There are two ways of looking at a feed and cash deficit, according to Stephen.

“There are short- and long-term strategies to dealing with both. In terms of managing a feed shortage, in the short-term I would target feed at dry cows that need it most. This involves body condition scoring [BCS] cows and grouping them based on their condition score and restricting silage to those that are at the target BCS for calving.

“With reasonable-quality silage these cows at BCS 3.25 need to only be fed 10kg dry matter per day, not the 12kg or 13kg that they would eat if unrestricted. Cows are in better BCS than normal this year so there is a really good opportunity to save on silage over the dry period. This will help to save silage, but it will also reduce the risks of over fat cows next spring, which are as big a problem as cows that are too thin,” Stephen said.

Maintenance

On long-term strategies for saving on feed, Stephen said that more emphasis should be placed on the maintenance sub index in the EBI. In a demonstration with three cows with different EBI’s for maintenance, Stephen demonstrated that the higher maintenance value cows will eat about 1.5t of dry matter less over their lifetime.

Using the same cows, he said that long term cash flow problems can be eased by breeding cows that produce more fat and protein. One of the cows in the demonstration with a high predicted difference for fat and protein is predicted to produce over 600kg of milk solids this year at a milk price of 44c/l – 12c/l above base milk price.

“That cow’s milk is worth €2,600 this year, whereas the cow with the low PD for fat and protein will produce milk worth €1,888 even though their milk volume isn’t that much different. Long-term, breeding for higher solids is the best approach to prevent cash flow problems.” Stephen said.

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In pictures: Dairy Day 2018