Farmer Focus: Irish dairy research is envy of the Brits

What an amazing summer it’s been. Anyone would think this farming malarkey is easy.

I took a few days off with our discussion group to Moorepark’s Dairy Day in Ireland.

I have to say we were all green with envy at the fantastic research and strong, clear messages on display.

There are not many events in the UK where thousands of farmers are wandering round, and no one is trying to sell them anything.

See also: How to decide if autumn block calving is right for your farm

Overriding themes were: don’t feed too much; use protected urea; use clover; use a dribble bar; and of course the huge gains being seen in cow output from the national Estimated Breeding Index (EBI).

We visited five farmers on the tour and learned about the co-op’s expansion plans. They are doing research and coming up with new products and are able to pay good prices for high solids milk.

Most processors are paying 39 cents per litre (36p/litre) as an average for the spring-calving farms.

Combined with a good climate, the farms can use outside cubicles for low-cost expansion.

Interestingly, many farmers questioned the use of selective dry cow therapy as they have seen cell counts creeping up.

I found the overriding message to be that, if you can work on your business rather than in your business and focus in on problems, you can leave yourself and your business in a better place.

With that in mind, brother James and I had a great couple of days with a business coach to thrash out where we are heading in the next five years.

We came up with some interesting solutions to how we are going to manage the business. Basically, we will manage ourselves and our time more effectively to allow the people in our business to do the same.

We all need to work on the mind at some level. I have an uncle with Alzheimer’s and have seen far too many suicides in my fraternity recently.

I wonder if we need to think of ourselves and our loved ones first, not last. Talk, listen, learn with others and go along to the Doug Avery resilience meetings coming up.

Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie