A leading dairy specialist has discussed with Fermanagh producers how increasing milk components could increase their returns.
Dr. Joe Patton is a Teagasc dairy nutrition and production systems specialist and he gave his talk to Fermanagh Grassland Club’s first meeting of the 2017/18 winter programme recently.
He examined how component base milk pricing could be an option for Northern Ireland dairy farmers.
Looking at the milk scene in Northern Ireland, he said over 80 per cent of milk was manufactured into solid products which was more than twice the amount in the remainder of the United Kingdom.
Currently Northern Ireland’s total cow herd of 311,250 cows yielded an average of 7116 litres with average fat content at 3.98per cent and protein at 3.25 per cent.
He then looked at farm factors affecting milk solids content - 60 per cent in genetics, 30 per cent in nutrition and 10 per cent through management.
In conclusion, Dr. Patton said solids-based products would predominate more in the future and long term milk prices received by farmers would be secured on solids yield.
He suggested that industry should find a full-time specialist to deliver a solution.
Dr Patton has completed a PhD in dairy cow metabolism and fertility interactions and leads the winter milk systems project at Johnstown Castle in Wexford, delivers training and support for regional dairy advisory staff and industry partners and works with several discussion groups.