BY JOHN SEXTON
UPWARDS of 200 young farmers from all over West Cork attended the Spring Farm Walk jointly organised by Teagasc and the Carbery Group at the Shinagh Estates dairy farm on Wednesday of last week.
They were welcomed by Paddy Ryan, chairman, Shinagh Estates, who gave a brief resume on the running of the dairy herd under the guidance of John McNamara (Teagasc) and Kevin Ahern (Farm manager).
Billy Kelleher Cork West regional manager of Teagasc, who spoke about the renewed interest in expanding the dairy industry now that quotas have been lifted. On the three stands which they had erected on the farm, Teagasc advisers were on hand to spell out the ways and means by which farmers can increase production without going to excessive expense.
The Shinagh farm, which is jointly owned by the four West Cork dairy co-ops, was set up as a dairy farm in 2011 and has made rapid progress during the past five years. Back in 2010, the dairy herd was established with the introduction of 200 yearling freisian heifers and the herd now stands at 225, and the option is to go to 300.
At the stands along the walk, both John McNamara and Kevin Ahern went through the day-to-day workings of the herd, while Padraig French (a native of Union Hall), who is one of the leading lecturers on the dairy industry at the research centre in Moorepark, gave an overview on the industry in general and how various farmers handled the over-quota situation.
The once-a-day milking, when properly organised, resulted an increase in the fertility status of many herds. An experiment on cross-breeding, which is being carried out on the farm, crossing Holstein-Jersey-Norweigan Red in a proper rotation, is having beneficial results, especially in the area of improving milk solids.
An interesting feature of this farm walk was the number of questions which the advisers had to field at every stand, which is indicative of the keen interest being shown by all in attendance, who value these walks as a means of keeping their knowledge of all aspects of their industry up to date. Sinead Traynor, technical adviser with Carbery, spoke on the demands which their overseas customers make when they come here on fact-finding missions and, in this respect, the emphasis must be on improving quality all the time. The fact that people in attendance came from as far away as Kinsale and Bantry is indicative of the great interest shown in these farm walks. Other Teagasc personnel present were Ann Malone and Seamus O’Dowd, along with Peter Fleming, chairman of Barryroe Co-Op, and Seamus Daly, deputy CEO, Drinagh Co-Op.