Sixty-five Town of Monaghan Co-op (TMC) milk producers and some TMC staff travelled to Germany for the TMC producer trip in mid November2014.
Following arrival in Berlin, and a relaxing overnight stay, the group was up ‘bright and early’ the next morning for a day of two farm visits.
Hof – Decker Farm
The farm, owned by Lutz Decker on the outskirts of Bierbergan in the South Peine Region, milks 220 cows. The farm by all accounts was an exceptional dairy unit with a lot of emphasis placed on cow welfare and productivity levels, all maintained to a high level. Monitoring of daily performance in terms of milk yield, fertility levels and cow locomotion was quite obvious to be seen.
The scope of the land being farmed, approximately 670 acres provided a large base for growing both arable feedstuffs and grassland silage.
The farm also has a large anaerobic digester, or a Biogas unit.
The plant is generating electricity supplied to the National Grid and the excess heat which heats water is piped to approximately 70 homes in the local village Bierbergan.
Local farmers grow Maize crops for the Decker farm; approximately 1400 acres on a contracted basis.
The contract includes an agreed price per ton/ DM delivered and includes a fertilizer, sowing and harvesting service on an agreed rate. The farm also has three large Wind Turbines.
Bentloh Dairy Farm
This farm belonging to Dirk Drogmueller, was by contrast a more typical dairy unit. He had two Lely Robotic Milkers, milking approximately 125 cows in a recently constructed timber-framed Cow Barn.
The farm consisted of 290ha of land divided into arable and grassland cultivation. The cows being milked were more native breeds such as Red & White Friesian, Brown Swiss.
The farm located on the outside of the village had its own ‘Raw Milk Vending Machine’. This allowed the public to purchase cooled, raw milk from the farm at any time using Farm-Labelled glass bottles.
This is legal to do so in Germany, but is closely monitored by the licensing authorities. Following welcoming tea and coffee on the farm, an overnight stay in the town of Gifhorn finished a busy day.
Euroteir Agricultural Show
The main attraction of the trip was the Euroteir Agricultural Show in Hannover, which members attended the next day.
This show is held in a series of large halls at Europe’s largest exhibition centre, attended by over 200,000 people over the duration of four days.
The show was a platform for Animal Housing, Feeding, Animal Health, Milking Parlours and Dairy Equipment. The Agricultural Show was coupled with the Energy Show for Biogas production, packing a full day for everybody to enjoy.
Following the show, a slightly “longer return journey” back to Berlin completed the evening.
The final day allowed the group to go sight see the City of Berlin. It was coincidental that the Berlin Wall was demolished only 25 years ago, the mixture of the old and the new was very evident to be seen.
The sights of the Brandenberg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall and the history of the city were certainly worth seeing.
Following the flight back to Dublin, everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
TMC would like to thank everyone who was on the trip.