Loan terms are too short and putting pressure on farmers
at culling and replacing those stocks with better fertility genetics coming through,”he said.
While there are plenty benefits to split calving, Mr Patton explained that it involves four extra hours of labour per cow as it is a more complex system.
At present the number of winter milk farmers in Ireland stands at 1,700, which is 10pc of dairy farmers.
This is compared to 3,359 producers registered in 2001. On average farmers receive a 7.5-8c per litre premium for producing winter milk, which for most is not enough.
While Mr Patton said that it could be worthwhile bringing in a scheme to increase the producers of winter milk in Ireland, he stressed that since there’s no shortage of liquid milk through the winter that there may be no point in “robbing Peter to pay Paul”
“As it stands whatever value is available to fund a scheme would have to be returned by the market. Winter milk can’t be paid premium unless there’s increased production,” he said.
He added that spring calving is fine but that co-ops should start discussing the possibilities of split systems with farmers. EXPAND your herd only if it’s right for your farm and your family, a leading dairy expert has said.
According to Teagasc’s Patrick Gowing, dairy farmers should only expand if they feel it’s right for their system and not because they think they have to.
“Why do we all want to expand? Are we expanding to buy a new tractor at the Ploughing and if that’s what you want fair enough but to expand because someone else told you to is not a good enough reason. We need to expand for ourselves so it’ll work for our farm and our families going forward.
“You don’t have to milk 300 cows if you don’t want to. If you are going to expand you need a business plan that is based on reality,” he said.
When expanding Mr Gowing warned that farmers need to take into account grassland infrastructure and focus less on capital costs like milking parlours as grass is the key to sustainable expansion.
He also thinks we should increase our loan terms to reduce pressure on farmers.
“If you’re putting more grass in to the system there’s going to be a cost implication there. If you start with the parlour and slurry storage you’ll end up with no money to invest in the grass.
“A lot of people’s debt term is too short and they’re paying it back too fast. Parlours are going to be there for 30 years why are we paying for them in five? It’s an Irish thing that we don’t want to be in debt and want to get out as fast as we can but it puts pressure on plans.”
It’s cheaper from a feed perspective to have fewer October calvers than it is to allow spring calvers to become lax and left on, says Teagasc analyst Joe Patton