FRS and co-ops team up for smart milking events
The events are free to attend and will focus on efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Cost effectiveness and efficiency will be the focus of a number of free milking events run by FRS training, Teagasc, Animal Health Ireland (AHI) and a number of dairy co-ops.

The smarter milking events will take place in June and July in counties Waterford, Galway, Kerry and Meath.

Teachings for the event will be based largely on the Best Practice in Milking Course, which has been available to farmers since 2014.

“With the average herd size increasing, combined with larger milking units, the demands on the milker are more challenging,” Padraig O'Connor, of Teagasc said.

“These smarter milking events will outline a practical approach on how dairy farmers and their staff can implement techniques to allow for a more efficient milking process.”

Smarter Milking Schedule of Events (open to all):


Date: Wednesday 20 June 2018

Venue: Andrew Claxtons’ farm, Kilminnin, Stradbally, Co Waterford. Eircode: X42YK57

Kerry Agribusiness

Date: Wednesday 11 July 2018

Venue: John Lawlor's farm, Ballysheen, Abbeydorney, Co Kerry. Eircode: V92 W635

(Parking available at Abbeydorney GAA grounds, shuttle bus service provided.)


Date: Wednesday 18 July 2018

Venue: Tim Kelly's farm, Clorane, Athenry, Co Galway. Eircode: H65 XY05

Lakeland Dairies

Date: Thursday 19 July 2018

Venue: David Hannon's farm, Tir Na Ri Farm Ltd, Derrypatrick, Drumree, Co Meath. Eircode: A85 PD65.

If you are interested in attending the event register now on event page.

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Millionaires of a different kind in Greenfield Kilkenny
While the world watches the soccer millionaires run around Russia, the black and white millionaires often go unnoticed, writes Jack Kennedy.

Peak May and June milk volumes have the capacity to hide individual monster high somatic cell counts (SCC). The last bulk tank SCC result in Kilkenny at 203,000 cells/ml wouldn’t set alarm bells ringing for many farmers, but the fact of the matter is it probably should.

In the last week, we know from detailed individual testing in Kilkenny that we probably have over 20 cows out of the 325 in milk, with at least one-quarter in the millionaire bracket. Yet the bulk tank at 200,000 is very acceptable for many farmers and a long way from the perceived penalty zone over 400,000.

Treatment of these cows with antibiotics can be expensive and unsatisfactory. Research has shown that maybe only 20 to 30% can be cured by antibiotics. It means knowledge in this instance is mostly used as a damage limitation exercise to try and prevent the spread to the rest of the herd. Hence these cows are milked last to try and avoid cross comtaminating clean cows.

Individual treatment depends on indiviual cows. Old, thin cows with multiple bad quarters have left the herd. Young cows with potential and maybe only one bad quarter have been treated with antibiotics.

Grass growth rates have dropped off completely with little or no rain and meal is in at 3kg per head. The milking herd is going into pre-grazing covers of 900kg when they should be going into 1,400kg. By Monday or Tuesday next week, bale silage will have to be introduced unless we get rain.

There are still a good number of cows for AI each day. It varies from seven cows per day down to two or three. Most are repeats but there are some that are only getting served for the first time. The 530 dairy straws have been inseminated so Hereford AI straws are being used at the moment.

The last milk test (Wednesday) shows a result of about 19kg per cow at 3.85% protein and 4.19% fat (1.57kg MS/cow) at 203,000 cell count and 4.81% lactose.

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Animal welfare campaigners protest against live exports
The advocacy group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) staged a demonstration outside the GPO in Dublin this Saturday.

The protest was part of an international campaign organised by UK-based CIWF in several countries this week.

It gave rise to a debate on RTÉ Radio 1's show Countrywide on Saturday morning. Campaigner Caroline Rowley said that regulations on animal welfare during long-distance transport have been breached "regularly" for many years, with cases of breaks and food or water supply requirements not being observed.

She added that CIWF was not against farming but opposed live exports, which in her view absorbs small amounts of cattle and makes money only for a "small number of exporting companies".

Rowley added that according to data she obtained through a freedom of information request, one or two animals die on every shipment to Turkey, with pneumonia a common cause.

IFA livestock chair Angus Woods disagreed, saying that he had been on ships and lorries transporting cattle to Europe or the Middle East and found them to be operating to "the highest of standards".

"It's important for farmers to have positive competition within the marketplace," he added, with live exporters contributing to demand for their animals.

"The purchaser of the animal on the far side, be it in the Netherlands or Turkey, only wants to buy a happy, healthy animal," he said.

In a statement to Countrywide, the Department of Agriculture said: " The standards provided for in Irish legislation in relation to the approval of ships for livestock transport are higher than those which apply in other EU member states and are recognised by the EU Commission as being among the most effective and stringent legislation in force as regards the transport of animals by sea."

Department vets inspect ships and supervise loading operations, the statement added.

The Department is currently funding the World Organisation for Animal Health to support "capacity-building activities relating to the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter in third countries and long-distance transport".

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Live exports of calves exceed 100,000 head

UK calls for evidence for potential live export ban

In pictures: exporting calves from Ireland to the Netherlands

Turkish trade in focus