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IGA Diary Summer Tour 2018
Once again, the IGA Dairy Summer tour is almost upon us. It’s always a fantastic day out, and this year’s event promises to be no exception. We caught up with George Ramsbottom of Teagasc ahead of the event to find out more about the theme for this year - and what we can expect on the big day.
An Important Event
“It's a really important event on the farming calendar,” George explains. “It brings together grass folk and dairy farmers. People who maybe haven't seen each other for many months get together and catch up on everything that’s going on in the industry,” he notes. “And then from a technical perspective, it helps people to refocus and reappraise the important things involved in grass and dairy farming.”
Focus on High Profit and High Return
Each year the event has a particular theme, and this time around the focus is on high profit and high return on investment milk production. Attendees will get the chance to tour two different farms – one leased and one owned - that are each making a good return. “We’re very happy to invite Conor and Kevin to host the event this year. They’re two excellent operators,” George says.
Being chosen as a host farmer is definitely something to be proud of, he explains, “It's a kind of a recognition of many years of hard work and to be invited to host is a badge of honour because it's recognition of a job well done.”
This year's hosts both run farms with high profitability, and while they have several common features - like good cows and the utilisation of a lot of grass - there are also many differences which will make for an interesting day.
The Two Farms
First-up will be Conor and Josie Kelleher’s 57-hectare farm at Rearour, Aherla, Co. Cork. In this instance, practically all of the land they farm is owned. The farm has an average of 142 cows grazing and the milking platform stocking rate is 3.4 cows/ha. “Conor is effectively a specialist dairy farmer with just enough heifers to rear for himself,” George notes. “He's highly technically efficient, performing really well and achieving a very high return on profit per hectare.”
The Shinagh Dairy farm is the second farm on the day and is managed by Kevin Ahern. This is a 78-hectare leased farm achieving a high return on investment that Kevin has been managing since it was established in 2011. “This farm was converted from beef to a dairy farm. It was a former AI station,” George says. “Kevin was employed to be the farm manager and he oversaw the development of the farm, including the roadway, water, networks and the construction of a new milking parlour. We know what the initial cost was, we know what the technical performance is on it and we can generate then what the return would be. It’s a very high return and that'll all be presented and discussed on the day. They're two very interesting farms.”
An Unusual Year
It’s been a tough year for dairy farmers and the tour offers a small bit of respite from the day-to-day. “It's been a most unusual year. We went from winter into summer in early May. And now we're back into winter again in July because the grass growth rate has declined to such an extent,” George explains. “So, we're well back on what's required. It’s a really difficult time for farmers and we could do with a break.”
What to Expect on the Day
The event is a big one with an expected attendance of 500-600. “We’ve plenty of help on hand to keep it running, we've done it plenty of times now, so we know what we're doing,” says George. It’s also a great social occasion with many people travelling down the night before the event. The morning begins with registration at a local centre. “This year the centre we've picked is the Cloughduv GAA pitch, which is a great facility with lots of car parking,” he says. “And breakfast rolls will be provided for people who arrive early.” The bus then departs to the first farm where there’ll be a walking tour. “Usually you have three stops,” George explains, “the introductory stand, a second technical stand, and the last one which has a financial focus.” After lunch, it’s off to the next farm for more interesting insights and tips.
Book Your Tickets
The date of the tour is Tuesday, July 24th and the event is sponsored by AIB. You can book through the Irish Grassland Association website.
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