I’m currently in Ballyhaise Teagasc Research College, where I will be getting an in-depth knowledge about its work on dairy and beef. I was warmly welcomed by the lecturers and farm managers, who showed me around their areas of interest.
Firstly, I was shown around the dairy section of the farmyard, which consists of a modern herringbone milking parlour with automatic drafting.
A computerised management programme is used to facilitate record keeping. We then brought the 120 dairy cows in for milking. I thoroughly enjoyed milking the cows as I got to use the automatic gates and clusters. After each cow was milked, each udder was dipped in disinfectant to prevent mastitis.
When the last cow was milked, I was shown how to disinfect and wash the parlour. Terry changed the filter and set the system to wash.
In a separate shed I met Judith, who rears the dairy calves. I bottle-fed a calf with two litres of milk from the milking parlour. The calves are in separate hutches to prevent the spread of scour and other bacterial diseases. The calves are bedded in fresh straw to prevent joint ill.
The dairy herd is spring calving and is part of the Moorepark Dairy Research programme. Donal and Michael showed me their breeding system for the dairy herd. They carefully choose bulls that will suit the outcomes they want to achieve in the herd. In the evening time, we tail-painted the replacement heifers. This will show signs of oestrus; we will check them again tomorrow.
Jodie McGeever is an animal science student at UCD and travels on the professional work experience programme supported by the Irish Farmers Journal and the Agricultural Science Association.