Lakeland launches dairy development programme for NI

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Lakeland Dairies has launched a new dairy development programme for the co-operative’s milk suppliers in Northern Ireland.

The new programme is aimed at maximising efficiency and profitability on a sustainable basis for the future. It will work in close association with The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The new initiative was launched on the farm of Alan Irwin, Fintona, Co. Tyrone, together with Alo Duffy, Chairman; Colin Kelso, Vice-Chairman and Niall McCarron, NI Dairy Development Programme, Lakeland Dairies.

Working alongside and across existing CAFRE business development groups, the new programme is designed to further assist suppliers in their improvement of on-farm efficiency, leading to sustainable and profitable growth in their farming businesses.

The Dairy Development Programme will use the findings of locally based research that is relevant to the needs of Lakeland Dairies’ milk supplying farmers in Northern Ireland. It includes technical advice on grassland management, milk solids, dairy herd fertility, quality management and sustainable expansion, among other important areas.

A dedicated dairy specialist, Niall McCarron will work with Lakeland milk suppliers in an advisory capacity. He will also provide a planning and technical service to potential new entrants to milk production. The programme will include a variety of workshops, farm walks and open days exploring dairy farm structures and management practices for milk suppliers.

Alan Irwin farms outside Fintona in Co. Tyrone, milking 200 cows. Cows calve all year round and the current herd performance is 7,000 litres per cow with Butterfat at 4.0% and Protein at 3.46%. Alan plans to expand the herd over the next five years with an aim of milking close to 300 cows by 2023.

At the launch, Lakeland Dairies’ Chairman, Alo Duffy said: “Lakeland Dairies is a leading exporter of high quality dairy foodservice products and ingredients for food industry customers across the world, using milk produced by our highly valued dairy farmer suppliers across Northern Ireland.

“I’m delighted to see this important initiative being launched because it’s essential for dairy farmers to be able to make decisions based on solid expertise and advice and that is exactly what our programme is supporting. We welcome the association with CAFRE in the Lakeland programme.”

Lakeland Dairies operates milk processing sites in Newtownards plus Killeshandra and Bailieborough in Co Cavan.

The co-op recently acquired Fane Valley’s dairy division. Lakeland processes up to 1 billion litres of farm produced milk into a wide range of dairy foodservice products and dairy food ingredients. These are exported to over 70 countries across the globe.