For this week’s Dairy Focus, Agriland made the journey to Co. Limerick to the Maher household farm.
Gearoid and Sarah Maher’s Co. Limerick-based Killuragh herd was the host of this yr’s Pure Friesian open day.
The return to exploit manufacturing has been successful for the Maher household, with the farm being the Dairygold milk high quality award winner in 2021, a Nationwide Dairy Council (NDC) milk high quality finalist in 2022 and NDC ambassador in 2023.
A fourth-generation dairy farmer, Gearoid took over the farm in 2011. Within the years prior the farm had been leased out because of his father being in unwell well being.
In 2018 Gearoid and Sarah entered a farm partnership.
Graduating with an honours diploma in agricultural science Gearoid returned house to the household farm to give attention to dairy farming.
The duty forward was difficult because the infrastructure on farm was outdated and never match for function and the standard of the grassland swards was poor.
Some heavy funding was required to modernise the farm, together with a herd of cows being assembled and the Killuragh prefix re-established with the Irish Holstein Friesian Affiliation (IHFA).
A brand new cubicle shed and milking parlour had been put in on farm, together with grazing infrastructure.
The farm is positioned on a heavy clay-type soil, which suggests a median grazing season would vary from 200-240 days.
Coping with such a farm, Gearoid knew that the cow kind he chosen was going to be important.
He settled on a pure Friesian cow, as he believed it will go well with the farm.
There was additionally a component of custom within the choice as Gearoid’s father and his father earlier than him all bred pedigree Friesian cows.
40 pedigree pure Friesian cows had been bought, the bulk from the Dunum herd and a few from the Gortfadda herd.
This was the inspiration of the farm and these cows had been the institution of the pedigree herd.
106 cows are actually being milked on the farm, with the heavy soil kind which means the farm is stocked at one cow to the acre on the grazing platform.
For breeding, a spotlight has been positioned cow households, with Gearoid wanting on the efficiency of dams and gran-dams.
Breeding for milk and protein was excessive on the listing.
The herd of 106 cows is producing 6,160kg of milk, with common fats of 4.27% and protein of three.59% – which equates to 482kg of milk solids.
The calving interval is near 369 days and the empty price is mostly between 4-5% with a submission price to first service persistently over 90%, and a 70% conception price to first service.
Presently, there are three EX cows 23 VG cows.
Throughout the milking herd there are eight cows on their eighth lactation and older within the herd, demonstrating fertility, well being and longevity attributes.
A difficulty highlighted on the farm was the decrease financial breeding index (EBI), though the EBI of many pure Friesian herd has elevated because the introduction of the carbon sub-index.
Evaluating the Killuragh herd to the nationwide common EBI determine, nationwide common is €140 whereas the Killuragh herd has an EBI of €192.
Fertility for nationwide common is €66 and €118 for the Killuragh herd, whereas the carbon determine nationally is €7 and €21 for the Killuragh herd.
The pure Friesian falls down within the milk sub-index with the nationwide common being €43, whereas the Killuragh herd has a determine of €9.
However based mostly on the manufacturing determine above that is onerous to realize, and has many breeders questioning the figures.
Many breeders noting that the longevity of the cow signifies that over their lifetime, extra milk is produced.
Sustainability has an enormous position to play on the Maher household farm with all kinds of measures being adopted.
A complete of 100kg/ha of chemical nitrogen (N) is used, with all of this unfold the type of protected urea.
All of the slurry is unfold utilizing low emission slurry spreading (LESS), whereas 50% of the farm has a clover content material of between 20-30%; 15% of the silage fields are pink clover.
An extra 10% of the grazing platform has multi-species swards.
Focus feeding has been decreased from 1,200kg/cow to 700kg/cow and the protein proportion from 18% to fifteen% in spring and 16% to 12% in summer season.
Selective dry cow remedy is used on the herd, with solely 10% of the herd receiving antibiotics at drying off in 2022.
Weeds aren’t any lengthy sprayed on the farm with. They’re allowed to develop on the perimeters of paddocks and topped in paddocks.
All water programs are fenced 1.5m from the sting of the drain; there’s additionally 20ac of economic forestry and 4ac of pure forestry.
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