CAFRE to host ‘efficient and sustainable’ farm walks – Agriland

CAFRE to host ‘efficient and sustainable’ farm walks – Agriland

Farmers during the walk for ‘Efficient and Sustainable’ milk production Source: Daera

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) are hosting a series of six farm walks to illustrate and define ‘Efficient and Sustainable Milk Production’ for local dairy farmers.

The first two farm walks took place on Wednesday, March 27 on the farms of Mark Patterson, Garvagh, Derry and James Murphy, Tempo, Co. Fermanagh.

An additional two farm walks are planned to take place on Tuesday, April 9 at A & W McConnell’s farm, Drumgaw, Co. Armagh, and on Thursday April 11 at James McKay’s farm, Dromara, Co. Down.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) stated that farm walks are held to assist farmers to understand the key measures that can improve environmental and financial performance on farm.

James Murphy farms 110 autumn calving dairy cows on 79ha with 70% of cows calving between mid-August and the end of September.

He said that good quality forage production is key on his farm, with cows grazed and also high-quality silage. All herd replacements are home-bred using 100% AI and a closed herd is maintained.

Carbon technologist with CAFRE, Lauren Curry, gave a presentation on ‘understanding carbon’. Lauren explained the terms associated with greenhouse gases (GHG) and the background to carbon benchmarking of farms.

Lauren discussed the figures for the Murphy farm, and referred to areas where a farms carbon footprint could be reduced.

Farmers at the ‘Efficient and Sustainable milk production’ walk, Source: Daera

She added that dairy farmers can effectively reduce their carbon footprint by showing attention to things, such as, age of first calving, longevity of cows, and balanced use of fertilisers and slurry.

Local CAFRE dairy advisers including Christopher Breen, Trevor Alcorn, Kieran McCartan and Jane Sayers facilitated the large group of dairy farmers who attended the farm walk.

Mr. Murphy uses a weigh band to measure heifer growth rates, and a ‘sense-hub’ system is used to identify heats and rumination in both cows and heifers.

This helps him to achieve a calving pattern on his farm and assists in the achievement of heifers calving at two-years-old.

Daera added that if a dairy farmer adheres to good management, strives to improve efficiencies in feeding, breeding and nutrient management, there will be a positive outcome in terms of carbon.

It is imperative that local farmers gain knowledge of what they can do to improve sustainability and help improve their local environment.

Farmers have faced many challenges in the past and will “no doubt” meet this new one with good knowledge and support, Daera said.

All dairy farmers are invited to enrol for the events on the CAFRE website. Further events in counties Antrim and Tyrone are planned for later in April.