Day One of the inaugural Emerald Expo, hosted by the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (www.IHFA.ie) – in association with Alltech – kicked off with 400 farmers from all over Ireland visiting the new Greenfield dairy farm at Clara. This unique Teagasc Dairy program in partnership with the Dept. of Agriculture and Food, Glanbia FBD Trust and AIB, provides family farms with the skills and technologies to profitably grow their businesses.
Meanwhile, back at the Hub, Cillin Hill, Kilkenny, show teams representing 50 of Ireland’s top pedigree dairy herds, were putting the finishing touches to the 175 elite animal entered for the two Days of show classes.
“We have had a tremendous turnout of stock for the event,” confirmed IHFA Chairman Richard Whelan and “the quality of the animals participating in the various classes is excellent.”
Large crowds gathered on Day Two of the Emerald Expo at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny. Judge Anthony Le Trionnaire, from France, commented very positively on the quality of stock throughout the day. But there could be only one overall winner. And that accolade went to John Patterson, from Crumlin, Co. Antrim with his excellent cow Wiltor Goldwyn Lausine.
“Lausine is a tremendous cow and a worthy champion,” declared Charles Gallagher, CEO of IHFA. Richard Whelan, Chairman of IHFA and the Show Coordinator agreed: “We have had a tremendous two days -everyone involved with Emerald Expo has been tremendously enthused by the positive response from the many people who enjoyed the show classes, wide variety of trade stands (50+), cookery demos, networking opportunities and social activities.”
Technical seminars (each lasted 45 minutes and featured two speakers) were sponsored by Alltech, AIB, Dairymaster, Glanbia, IHFA, Pfizer Animal Heath and Richard Keenan & Co. Experts from the trade, Teagasc etc covered topics of interest to livestock farmers. These seminars were chaired by leading Agri personnel such as Michael Dowling of AIB, Dr. Karina Pierce from UCD, Alan Jagoe from Macra na Feirme, Matt Ryan, Nuffield Ireland.
Mech-Fiber remains a unique concept in ruminant nutrition from the diet feeder manufacturer Richard Keenan and Co. The Keenan nutritionist Michael Davey told farmers attending the Emerald Expo technical seminars that Mech Fiber represents an integrated approach to dairy and beef feeding. It focuses on the physical structure of rations to optimise their utilisation in the rumen, thereby increasing Feed Conversion Efficiency (FCE) by up to 30%.
Three out of four Irish dairy herds are infected with IBR: the problem is that not every affected farmer is aware that (s) he has a problem. This was the key message from Pfizer vet. Charles Chavasse. However the presence of antibodies can be easily confirmed from milk samples. Charles advised all milk producers to achieve the highest biosecurity. He concluded: “Vaccination can also play an effective part in helping to manage the IBR problem”.
The Cow Comfort Factor
Dr Dan Ryan of Cows365.com highlighted the role of Preventative Health Management in optimising fertility and minimising health and welfare problems. “Matching feeding systems with the cow’s potential to produce milk is also important. For example, a high EBI cow on a low input, grass based system will come under significant metabolic stress.” Dr Ryan pointed out that new ultrasound scanography enables farmers, their vets and technicians, to assemble useful animal health reports for individual cows, within a month of calving date.”
Dr Donagh Berry, Teagasc told farmers that genomics will play an increasing role in determining future dairy breeding programs. “Within ten years we will have identified specific genes and how they interact to affect milk production and those functional traits of cows which are so important.”
Speaking at Emerald Expo, Tom Ryan, Teagasc farm buildings specialist, said that many farmers will invest in new and updated parlours. Tom said that it should be possible for one person to milk between 105 and 150 cows/hour and allow farmers make better use of their time. He strongly recommended the use of automated drafting systems for larger herds.